Serving many, many years in a prison that was said to hold the “worst of the worst” men in the world taught me to never underestimate what God can do in someone’s life. Can you fathom someone who has literally done “every evil imaginable under the sun” asking me how they could stop cussing? Well, this didn’t just happen one time, but it happens over and over again.
For most of them, it began with their baptism into the Holy Orthodox Church. Their lives were transformed in those holy waters of baptism. Then came a desire to clean up every part of their lives, including their language. “Father, when I go out to rec I always end up cussing with the other men. I want to stop, but how can I?” How would you answer someone who wants to quit cussing when everyone around them is cussing up a storm?
When the first person asked me that question, I responded with: “Before you go out to recreation, simply make the sign of the Cross over your lips and ask Jesus to be the Lord of your mouth and every word that comes out of it.” The next time I made my rounds by his cell, he greeted me with: “Father, how does that work? Not a single cuss word came out of my mouth!” I smiled and told him that God answered his heartfelt prayer. It was not a one-time forever fix; he should do it every time he got ready to go out to rec.
Over the years, more and more men asked me the same question and I gave the same answer. Some of these men were already Orthodox and others were simply looking into the Orthodox Faith. The result for those who did it was always the same and their response to me was always to same: “How does that work?”
I continue to share this spiritual tool that we have available to us with people all across our country. Anyone who wants help with their cussing, gossip, or even harsh talk toward others receives the same response from me. If you are having any issues with what comes out of your mouth around certain people, try this: Before you meet up with them make the sign of the Cross over your lips and ask Jesus to be the Lord of your mouth and every word that comes of it. Give it a try and let us know how it went. Remember it is not a one-time fix; so continue to do it regularly. In fact, it might be a great way to start each day.
We would like to publish 10,000 pamphlets with this teaching expanded to send into men and women in prisons across the country. If you would like to help cover the costs for this publication and many more of the books, Icons, and pamphlets OCPM sends each month, please prayerfully consider a donation to this ministry.
God bless you and may He be Lord over our mouths each day!!
P.S. If you are struggling with thoughts in your mind, you might try the same type of thing. Make the sign of the Cross over your forehead and ask Jesus to be the Lord over your mind and the thoughts in it. I use this often in my own spiritual warfare and it truly does work.
-Fr. Stephen Powley