Many of us are familiar with Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
But what does being still really look like? Why does God call us to “be still?” How exactly do we go about this?
When thinking of what it means to be still or silent before God, we may have feelings either of anticipation or anxiety. Some of this is influenced by our experiences, but also a great deal by our temperament. Those who lean more toward introversion usually find it easier than their extroverted friends. Nonetheless, it is important for all of us to lean into the command to “be still.” Learning to do this is both a gift and a discipline.
I believe God is always present and speaking, but it is up to us to position ourselves to hear and experience Him. If we do pay attention for a moment, we become aware there are a myriad of voices in our mind, the voice of self, the world, others, and the enemy that seem to clamor the loudest. It is when we learn to more and more tune out those voices, we began to clearly hear the quiet voice of God speaking messages of love, truth, and wisdom. Isaiah 30:15 tells us “In repentance (turning toward God) and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength”.
So how do we “be still”? First of all, it is not going to happen overnight, and like all disciplines, it involves training and practice. It is important to remember it is a process, and your desire and effort, not your success, are pleasing to God. Here are a few ways you can train yourself to “Be still.”
Pray. Before you begin, pray, telling God of your desire to hear and experience Him deeper, ask for protection, ask Him to sanctify and bless this time, and offer it as an act of worship to the One you love.
Breathe. Most likely the first thing you will experience when you become still is what Henri Nouwen refers to as “monkeys jumping around in a banana tree”, a myriad of racing thoughts, images, and, and confusing ideas. Don’t despair, that is normal. I find it helpful to breathe deeply, inhaling through the nose for 7 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, then exhaling through the mouth for 8 seconds. Do this for at least 8-10 times or until your mind begins to settle.
Hold Your Palms up and down. Holding your palms downward on your lap, bring to mind whatever is weighing on your heart and mind and give it to God, envisioning your cares slipping from your downward palms into Gods sovereign hands. After spending some time doing this, turn your palms upward on your lap as an expression of your desire to receive from God the forgiveness, peace, comfort, healing, or whatever He has for you
Practice Centering Prayer. Choose a calming word (examples: Jesus, grace, peace) As you breathe slowly and evenly, focusing on Jesus’ loving presence in and around you and quietly say the word from time to time.
With all of these, remember you do not need to make anything happen, nor is there a right way to do them; simply be open to whatever God has for you. The continuing practice of this discipline actually causes changes in the brain, thus we are being “transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2) as we do them. May God bless you as you pursue stillness.
By Debbie Grainger, Certified Temperament Counselor
The Life In Abundance office has a prayer closet to provide for quiet times with the Lord. If you are interested in reserving this closet during business hours, please contact us.