The passage that I've chosen to do my exegesis on is Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.
This is a passage that has drastically changed and is changing my prayer life. I use to say anything and everything to God in my prayers. After all, God is someone we should be open with about everything because we are in relationship with him if we follow him, right? However, this passage teaches me something completely different. It teaches me to choose my words wisely when I am in God's presence. That less just might be more in this situation.
But why would less be more? Why do words seem to matter so much? When I think of the answer to this question, it causes me to think about the people that have spoken the loudest to me in my life. The people that have done so are people that speak very little. Yet when they speak, they resonate the most because they are thought out well before they are said. Maybe this is true for our prayer lives. Maybe we should think out what we want to say before saying them to God.
The next thing that is taught is that if you make a vow to God, be quick to fulfill it. This is also stated earlier in Deuteronomy 23:21. It says it's better not to make a vow than to make a vow and break it. Jesus further adds to this in Matthew 5:33-37 with any commitment to anyone. When reading this, I began to realize how contrary this is to our culture. We frequently make promises we can't keep or as is said in the south "we write checks our butts can't cash." What this is saying to me that this is one of those calls where Christ calls us to be counter-cultural and for us to follow him and not the culture in this incident. We need to be men and women of our word.
The next part is what struck me the most. According to the New Living Translation, it says "Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead." This clashes i n my mind because I've learned that dreams play an important part in Ancient Near Eastern culture. On a more personal note, I'm a dreamer at heart so to hear that what I do is useless activity hits me at my core. However, according to many commentaries, what it means is those who have many troubles may fantasize of performing great and noble acts, but their aspirations are meaningless. Similarly, many words mark a person as a fool.
Bottom line: When it comes to what you promise God, don't make a promise that you are not sure that you can keep. If you make a vow, be quick to fulfill it. Don't use many words, but rather keep it short and sweet so that your words will have value. This goes for not only with God, but with other people as well. If you want your words to mean something, think them through long and hard before saying them.