Choosing to be still
Have you ever tried to hold a conversation with someone who seemed more interested in their mobile device than they are in you? The subtle but unintended message is that you are less important than some mobile game, online conversation or social media. That’s probably how God feels when He tries to communicate with us. God calls us to be still before Him.
Our hearts, souls and minds are constantly distracted by all the perishable things of this world: work, family, children, church, school, friends, entertainment, financial issues, what we will wear, what we will eat and the list goes on. When we pray, we simply end up babbling and telling God what He already knows.
Matthew 6:7-8 NLT … They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Benefits of being still
From His eternal glorious throne, God calls us to stop babbling and to be still, so we can experience Him.
Psalm 46:10 ESV “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
1. Time to remember God’s goodness
When God set out various laws for His people in the Old Testament, He included many festivals to remember Him by. Festivals, such as the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost and Day of Atonement, forced people to stop whatever they were doing to just focus on God’s goodness and blessings.
Psalm 103:2 NLT Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Why did God do this? Because He knows that we have a tendency to forget Him. When He calls us to be still, He is giving us an opportunity to remember all our blessings and to fill our hearts with His love, joy and hope. When we are constantly distracted or busy, we can even forget that God is in the same room with us – just like Martha did in the book of Luke. Jesus commended Mary for choosing to simply be still and enjoy Him.
Luke 10:40-41 ESV But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
2. Time to rest and be restored
The stresses of the world can wear us down. When God created us, He set a time-out mechanism to ensure that we can remain spiritually healthy and alive. It is called the Sabbath rest. Yet many of us stubbornly refuse to honour the Sabbath and choose to be busy all the time.
King David said in Psalm 23 that God restored him when He made him to lie down and led him to still waters. It is impossible for anyone to experience God’s restoration if we don’t first stop and cut out our daily distractions. It’s healthy to call a “time out” on a regular basis. God promises to renew us inwardly when we slow down and allow Him to work in us.
Isaiah 40:31 ESV but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
3. Time to listen for revelations
The Bible records how God spoke to the prophet Elijah in a still and quiet voice. If we constantly allow the noise of this world to flood our lives, we drown out God’s quiet voice.
When God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, He will quietly reveal spiritual truths, wisdom and knowledge. He will even show us what to pray for. This enables us to live in His divine anointing and power, and not our own. Who would not want God’s anointing for a more fulfilling life?
John 16:13 ESV When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
4. Time to reflect and recalibrate
Any driver who doesn’t pause to check if he is heading in the right direction is foolish. It is the same with our own lives. God is like the master navigator who will keep us out of trouble and lead us towards His good path. When we fail to stop before God to ask, “Father, am I heading in a direction that pleases You? Do I need to change directions?”, we do ourselves a great disservice.
Job 6:24 ESV “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.
5. Time to practice self-control
Choosing to be still is a great test of our ability to focus and control the restlessness of our minds and bodies. Even a dog can be trained to be calm and still. We too have to undergo similar training.
The benefits of such training will spill over into other aspects of our lives as we find ourselves becoming more gentle, patient and kind towards others. We are less quick to become agitated or say inappropriate things.
6. Time to seek His deliverance
There will be times when we will feel overwhelmed and in need of deliverance from our personal struggles, pain, and sorrows. We must stop and call out to Him, so God can help us.
Psalm 62:1 ESV For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
Taking time to be still and meditate on God’s character and promises builds our faith and spiritual strength. This in turn prepares us to stand up against spiritual attacks.
7. Time to detoxify from worldly distractions
Sometimes, we just need to abstain from the things of this world that corrupt our spiritual life.
Taking time away to be still is a way to fast from the distractions of this world.
8. Time to honour God
Most importantly, the reason we make time to be still before God is to submit our hearts before Him and acknowledge that He is more important than all that this world can offer.
We should, in fact, make this a priority – instead of giving God the leftover bits of each day. It is disrespectful to give anyone our leftovers, let alone God!
Don’t miss what God wants to reveal
Whenever God has something important to reveal to His people, He chooses times when we are still, not when we are frantic or distracted.
God led Elijah alone into the mountain to talk with him alone and called Moses when he was on his own in the wilderness. Jesus called Simon and Andrew to follow Him after they spent a night at work, not during. The Holy Spirit came powerfully upon the disciples as they were praying in an upper room. We too need to be still before God or we may miss what He wants to reveal to us.
1 Samuel 12:16 ESV Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes.
Practical steps in being still before God
1. Call a regular time out
First, let us set a regular quiet time with God and mark it in our diaries, protecting it as we would a date with any important person. Get away from our routines and spend time in a peaceful environment, whether it is out in nature or in a favourite room etc.
2. Put away all distractions
We should set aside anything that might distract us from being still. This includes all mobile devices, appointments and even one’s own children.
Here, we can follow King David’s example. Despite having to attend to many important matters regarding his kingdom, King David often chose to set aside those earthly issues and quieted himself down to seek God first.
3. Spend some time in reverent worship
We welcome God’s presence when we worship and acknowledge His sovereignty. Even though we cannot see Him, we should be mindful of our posture before God. We should remember whose presence we are in. Our hearts should remain reverent and bowed down before God.
4. Wait on God
Waiting on God is a very important discipline. God develops our character as we wait, not when we try to rush Him.
As we invite the Holy Spirit to speak with us, we must be open to His conviction or His commands. We should not only expect to hear things we want to hear. We must be ready to confess our sins as convicted by the Holy Spirit, so our communications with God are not hindered.
Isaiah 59:2 ESV … your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
At the same time, we ought to give thanks and acknowledge all God’s goodness in our lives. This draws us closer to our Father in heaven.
5. Meditate on God’s Word
When we meditate on God’s Word, we should pause and think about why each word or topic is included there. Expect the Holy Spirit to speak with us. God loves to teach His children something new.
There will be times we won’t hear from God immediately but we should not give up. God always answers our prayers. Sometimes, His answers may be hindered by spiritual warfare. We should persevere in waiting on God because He is the sole source of our hope. God will never fail us and His answers will come.
Psalm 62:5 ESV For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
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