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The Forty-Day Word Fast for Couples: A Spiritual Journey to Eliminate Toxic Words from Your Marriage

The Forty-Day Word Fast for Couples: A Spiritual Journey to Eliminate Toxic Words from Your Marriage

by Tim Cameron

Learn More | Meet Tim Cameron

Chapter 1

It Was All Good—for a While

Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
—Ephesians 5:19

In the creation account, God made light, the earth, vegetation and plants, day and night, and living creatures. After five days, He paused, took a big step back, and said it was good. But on the sixth day, He outdid Himself. The God of the universe, the majestic Creator of heaven and earth, made man and woman. When God finished the sixth day, He took a good long look at what He had done and said it was very good (Gen. 1:31). God had done something as mysterious as it was incredible. He had created two people in His own image.

There was an even more profound reason God was so pleased with what He had done. He had created man and woman with the ability to experience oneness. In marriage they could become one flesh:

Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
—Genesis 2:24

When we take a more in-depth look at the word one in this verse, we discover what God was up to. The Hebrew word for one here is echad.1 It essentially refers to the number 1.

Now, to get why this is profound, we’re going to talk math. Stick with me for a moment here. You might recall from your school days that there are two kinds of numbers: prime numbers and composite numbers. A prime number is only divisible by the actual number and the number 1. Some examples are 2, 3, 5, and 7.

Composite numbers, on the other hand, have greater divisibility. Think of the number 4. It can be divided by 1, 2, and 4. The number 8 is another example; it can be divided by 1, 2, 4, and 8.

Get the picture? If not, that’s OK. Here is the point: the number 1 is neither a prime number nor a composite number. And that’s because it is only divisible by itself.

Let’s apply this to oneness in marriage. God created Adam and Eve for perfect oneness—oneness like what God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit share with one another. Each of the three members of the Trinity is a distinct person with a name (Matt. 28:19). Each also has unique characteristics, such as the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. (See 2 Corinthians 13:14.) Yet the three of them are entirely one.

The same was true for Adam and Eve. Both of them had distinct names and identities, yet God created them for perfect unity in His image. It couldn’t get any better.

Unity Is Where It Started

Imagine with me God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth; Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; and the Holy Spirit—all together as one. See the otherworldly mystery of it and the unparalleled unity the three of them have experienced together always.

Now picture Adam and Eve walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. The gentle wind blows their hair. The smell of majestic gardenias fills the air, their swaying petals wafting a dreamlike odor that engulfs everything. The two of them pick ripe blueberries, dates, figs, and kiwi. Can you taste them—the sweet figs, hearty and full of flavor?

Nothing comes between Adam and Eve—not even clothes. They have been made in the image of God. And there He is! They hear the voice of the Lord, walking in the garden. He’s humming and singing with pleasure over all that’s been created. Let your imagination go wild picturing this.

What do you suppose stood between Adam, Eve, and God? I’ll tell you what: nothing. They experienced

The Intended Power of Words

Have you ever wondered what the voice of God sounds like? It is as unimaginable as it is intoxicating, the thought that God spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden. He blessed them after He created them, and He told them to rule over everything He had formed (Gen. 1:28). He told them what was good to eat (vv. 29–30). And He brought every animal and bird to Adam to see what he would name each one (Gen. 2:19–20).

God has a voice, and He spoke words to create everything. He merely spoke, and His will was performed. The first thing His words created on the formless, void earth was light. The light God formed was the result of the laws of the universe that He created with just four words: “Let there be light.” With only those four words, the laws of electricity, magnetism, gravity, and others shot into place, and light formed.2

It is easy to understand that God’s words are powerful. They are inventive. They do things so far beyond our imagining. We so casually flip through the Bible, but it is God’s voice in writing. It is not just a bunch of words about the Creator assimilated together by various people. The words of God are majestic, awe-inspiring, and life-giving, all in one. They are so powerful and fearful, they can strike terror into people:

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
—Hebrews 12:18–21, NIV

Conversely, I wonder what words Adam and Eve spoke to each other. What kind of power did their words carry? Adam and Eve were created in God’s image and used His very words to take authority over every living thing that moved. Wow! The garden was fashioned of incredible beauty. The fruit, grains, and green plants were exhilarating to the palate. What words were they using to describe it all?

The Garden of Eden was like heaven on earth. In it Adam’s and Eve’s words were an energizing, creative part of their oneness. When God gave oneness to Adam and Eve, He intended it in a far-reaching way. He didn’t give Adam and Eve just His image; He gave them His language also!

Adam and Eve spoke the language of God to each other. It was powerful, creative, and actualizing in each other’s soul. Negative words didn’t exist. Everything was good.

However, one thing was off-limits, and they eventually partook of it. Perfect unity in the garden came to an end.

Words Fell With the Fall

Adam and Eve made some monumentally poor choices. The result was that things were no longer good because of their sin. What’s more, sin did something to the language of Adam and Eve.

  • Adam’s words were filled with fear: “I heard Your voice in the garden and was afraid” (Gen. 3:10).
  • Adam shifted the blame to Eve: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (v. 12).
  • Eve shifted the blame to the serpent: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (v. 13).

Does any of this sound like conversations you share with your spouse? Perhaps yours sound something like this:

  • She says, “Honey, did you eat that last piece of pie—you know, the one we agreed I could have?” He says, “Well, if you would make dessert once in a while, I wouldn’t be so tempted.”
  • He says, “Wow, how did your car get that scratch on the front bumper?” She says, “Goodness, I hadn’t even noticed it. Someone must have dinged the car in the parking lot at work.”
  • She says, “It would really help me if you wouldn’t throw your dirty underwear on the floor in the bathroom for me to pick up later.” He says, “Who do you think picks up all the trash from the floor of the car?”

God gave you words to direct your relationship with your spouse, just as He did Adam and Eve. And I am sure you have figured out by now that your words carry power, just like the first couple’s pronouncements.

God’s original design for Adam’s and Eve’s words was that they would be like His words. Their words were meant to be life-giving, nurturing to their emotions, their entire souls, and their spirits. God’s intentions for your words with your spouse are the same. He wants both of you speaking life, not death, to each other.

Your words in your marriage will lead to intimacy or division. They will infuse it with hope or deliver devastating discouragement. Which will you choose?

The Power of Positive Words

There are so many positive words that will bring life to your spouse. Positive declarations bring healing, relieve anxiety, and deliver encouragement in marriage:

  • Respectful dialogue opens up lines of communication.
  • Comforting utterances soothe the greatest of life’s disappointments.
  • Humble, modest statements issue an invitation to be vulnerable.
  • Kind words produce feelings of euphoria.
  • Words of appreciation create a sense of worth in your spouse.
  • Affectionate words make your spouse feel loved.
  • Compliments give confidence.
  • Calming words soothe anxiety.
  • Affirmation fuels your spouse with energy.
  • Words of commitment establish steadfastness.

I like to say that positive words are like verbal nutrients that hydrate the soul. They will do the same for your marriage. All of them lead in one direction: unity. They give you strength and confidence to tackle life’s most daunting challenges together. When those comforting, uplifting, positive words are lacking, God’s purposes for your marriage will be left dormant.

God’s words produced light. God’s plan is for your words to light the path for others to follow Him. God’s plan in marriage is for your words to always shed light on the walkway that leads to intimacy and unity with your spouse.

Your words will control almost everything that comes to pass in your marriage, from misunderstandings to occasions to celebrate. They give meaning to your actions and sound to your attitudes. When you don’t speak words that need to be said or leave meaningful conversations unsaid, you open the door for speculation—and speculations are seldom positive. Not communicating honestly creates an atmosphere of indifference and unimportance.

But when you take the time to ask questions and find out who this person is you have married, it stops being all about you. You begin to understand this unique and magnificent mate that God called you to. Your words can rekindle life to dead dreams, give hope to hopeless situations, and open a guarded heart. Your tongue has power!

The Work of It

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty on this path to intimacy. You will never see the unity that you desire in your marriage unless you are willing to work hard. As the author of Hebrews said:

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God.
—Hebrews 12:14, MSG

I am writing this book because I am convinced you can find sizzling, set-your-hair-on-fire passion and intimacy in your marriage. You can take control of your marriage and not let it flounder into the kind of emotionless, bland relationships you might see around you. I believe you will find this intimacy by confronting God’s truth about marriage and learning to speak God’s language.

But you’re going to have to work hard. You’ll need to:

  • Stick it out. Don’t let this book fall into your pile of unfinished reads.
  • Carve out time. It’s your most precious commodity.
  • Come out of hiding. This is the hardest part.

Are you sick of starting over and over in your marriage and getting the same results? I was. I became so sick of it I decided to do something. I spent hundreds of hours studying the Word, listening to the Holy Spirit, and devoting my life to one woman. As a result, I stumbled into some of God’s truths about marriage and learned how to speak His language. Here is what I learned: God’s language is always truthful, which is the foundational heart and soul of any relationship. Also, His words are full of kindness, compassion, and encouragement. God’s words call people into their destiny and are never destructive.

Let me quickly get this out of the way. This isn’t a self-help book. The self is useless when it comes to spiritual things (Gal. 5:17; Rom. 8:5–6). Pride deceives us into thinking we can improve our marriage by just changing our routines, trying harder, getting an accountability partner, attending a couples’ weekend, or, if all else fails, joining Marriage Anonymous—if there were such a thing! These are all good things to do, of course, but they are not the remedy for lasting change. They are like taking a water hose to a gigantic forest fire.

This is a book about doing the hard work of learning and then practicing intimacy and pursuing unity in marriage. You are going to reach deep into your heart and change.

Together you will uncover the obstacles that have stood in the way of your God-given heart’s desire for a profound oneness in Christ for yourself and with your spouse. God is the One who placed this insatiable craving in your spirit, soul, and body in the first place. He didn’t do it because He is masochistic and wanted to tease you and see you suffer. No, He wanted to give you this experience. He intends this for you.

You may have brought emotional trauma, relational impediments, or incorrect beliefs into your marriage. If you have roadblocks that have existed in your relationship for a few years or decades, it makes no difference. God’s truth will blast through the most impenetrable stronghold, the darkest lie, the ultimate heartbreak, infidelity, or disloyalty.

“Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
—Jeremiah 23:29, NASB

There are not a lot of things my wife and I haven’t tried in our marriage on the self-help side. When we were first married in the early seventies, seminars galore painted the same picture of the submissive wife and the virile, spiritual man leading the home. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t the religious man those retreats, books, and seminars talked about. I was thrust into profound insecurities. My insecurities paralyzed me, and I had intimacy issues. And my wife quickly saw that she wasn’t the “total woman” those teachings said a woman should be. However, she was and is deeply spiritual.

Here’s the deal: I don’t care how many marriage seminars you have attended or how many books, programs, or counseling sessions you have completed. The point is to be anointed with the freshest oil of the Spirit as you grow deeper into intimacy and unity with Christ and your spouse. The aim is to reach a new level of tenderness, kindness, and intimacy with your spouse, and this only happens with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Unity Travels at the Speed of Intimacy

When God created man and woman, He designed a roadway for them to walk upon. Truth cleared all the obstacles to intimacy. Kindness composed the surface under every step, ensuring a silky smooth path that led in one direction: unity.

You will discover this roadway to a new level of tenderness, kindness, and intimacy with your spouse as you

  • see God’s original design for words,
  • learn to identify the devastating impact of negative words,
  • learn to speak the language of heaven,
  • understand truth in the secret places of the heart,
  • learn the tools to break through roadblocks and strongholds that have stood in the way of greater intimacy, and
  • become offense-proof in your marriage through the forty-day fast of words.

During the forty-day fast of words, you are going to make a discovery. The elusive, mysterious oneness with your spouse your heart has longed for will become a reality. The enemy and the world have perverted God’s design for couples to pursue oneness through speaking words of truth and kindness. You will uncover God’s purposes for your words.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. There is a reason Proverbs 18:21 lists death first. You will clearly understand, perhaps for the first time, the ramifications of complaints, criticism, judgment, gossip, and sarcastic words in your marriage. These words are the “unity busters.” You will discover a biblical way to change the atmosphere in your marriage through fasting words.

Your marriage is like a ship, and your words are the rudder. You will make progress toward intimacy if you are willing to exercise faith in God and trust in your spouse.

And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases. Even so, the tongue is a little part of the body and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles.
—James 3:4–5

Fasting words may sound unique, strange, or outright foreign to you. If you have never fasted, you will experience a fresh, spiritual world. If fasting has been part of your spiritual life (no matter how sporadic), you are going to uncover revelatory truths as you fast words for the first time.

As you practice these truths, the level of intimacy in your marriage is going to increase exponentially. You will learn how to cast off the hindrances that have kept your marriage in the same place year after year.

There are so many books on marriage! Please don’t see this book as just another magic pill to swallow. What you are holding in your hands is a tool. This instrument, properly used, can teach you to rewire the thinking in your brain about your spouse and your marriage and the words you use to sustain or deplete them.

I’m praying you are ready to discover secrets about marriage and experience the heart change that will come. In picking up this book, you are climbing up on a chair and screaming at the absolute top of your voice, “Not us! Our marriage is not going to end up in divorce or mediocrity!” You are ready to contend for your marriage to the last drop of blood. And you will be satisfied with nothing less than intimacy, an intimacy that produces unity. Here’s the invitation: join me for a deep dive into the mysteries of God about intimacy and unity in marriage!

Your Five “I Wills”

Positive declarations will infuse life into your marriage. I want you and your spouse to develop your own repertoire. Let’s call them your five “I Wills.” They’re the things you’re committed to doing each day in your marriage. Here are some examples:

  • I will tell my spouse, [insert name], every day that I love him/her.
  • I will say an encouraging word to [insert name] daily.
  • I will express gratefulness every day for something [insert name] does.
  • I will daily say something positive to [insert name] about our future.
  • I will greet [insert name] with a cheerful word every morning.

As we get started on this journey together, I’m giving you an assignment. Quiet yourself before the Lord, be still, and just listen. Ask Him what your five “I Wills” could be. You might want to take a day or two and just listen to Him speak.

When you are ready, write them down. Consider putting them on a three-by-five index card and laminating it. Then take the next step and memorize them.

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