A Loose Tongue (3 Nephi 26)
Typically, a loose tongue is an undesirable characteristic. It usually means you tend to gossip or can't keep a secret. "Loose tongues sink ships" is a saying meant to depict what happens when people say things that they should keep to themselves. (OK, I know the saying is really "Loose lips sink ships," but "tongues" is more accurate; it just doesn't rhyme with "ships" — work with me here.)
Anyway, as Jesus demonstrates in 3 Nephi 26, a loose tongue can actually be a good thing when it means that the person is enabled to speak words from God:
"And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people, and he loosed their tongues that they could utter." (3 Nephi 26:14)
From a young age, we all learn how to use our tongues to say words. However, they are words that come from our own minds or that we hear or learn from others — they're not typically messages from God. As described in the verse above, such messages come forth when the Lord inspires our minds and loosens our tongues to bring forth His words. If it's the Lord speaking, then even children can bring forth great messages from Him.
So, can the Lord speak through you? Of course He can. If you have the Holy Ghost residing within you — received via laying on of hands after being baptized — then you already have a channel of communication established with God, and you are positioned for God to potentially loosen your tongue and speak through you.
As a follower of Christ, you probably have the desire to speak to others about your faith. But you may be nervous or afraid that you won't know what to say, that you'll become tongue-tied and wind up embarrassing yourself. Pray for the Lord to loosen your tongue and then give it a try. You may well find that the words you speak in such situations won't be your own.
"Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." (Matthew 10:19-20)
Although it's a great blessing for any follower of Christ to have a loosened tongue, it's pretty much a requirement for a minister of Christ. When people listen to us speak, they really want to hear the Lord's words, not ours, so we should always be prayerful that the Lord loosens our tongue and brings forth His words when we speak.
Some years ago, when I was a young member of The Church, I was attending a campout, and we were having a meeting in which many young people were coming forward for prayer for various reasons. I then came forward with what must have sounded like an unusual request. I wanted the brothers to pray for me that my tongue would be loosened. At the time, I stuttered very frequently when speaking, and I knew that if a calling to the ministry was in my future, then God would have to take this condition away in order to prepare me.
One of the brothers prayed for me and, when he was done, an Apostle who was in the circle raised his arm and spoke in the spirit: "Thus saith the Lord — This day I will loosen your tongue." And, just like that, it was done! OK, I still stuttered once in a while, usually when nervous, but it was so much better that I knew God had answered the prayer.
A few years later, I was called into the ministry, and I have since experienced what it's like to have the Spirit of God speak through me when preaching a sermon. When that is occurring, the words come freely with no hesitation or faltering at all — it's a loosened tongue at work! And, since it's the spirit speaking, there's no reason for me to be nervous. God's got it covered. Praise God for this — I consider this one of His miracles in my life.
So, if you want the Lord to speak through you, whether to groups or to individuals, whether you're a minister or not, pray for Him to loosen your tongue. Then, be ready for opportunities to arise. It's natural to be nervous about this, but once you experience how the Spirit speaks through you when you're sharing God's words with others, you will see that you don't need to be nervous. God's got it covered.
Don't use a loose tongue to sink ships. Use it to sink the enemy by bringing forth the Lord's message!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.