Why It Is Vital to Hold Still

Have you ever tried to keep a puppy quiet when he was awake and ready for action? Impossible, isn’t it? Sometimes I think that’s how we must appear to God.

When we set out to live a life of prayer, walking and talking with God, there are times we absolutely must hold still.

In Psalm 46:10, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Did you know that being still is a form of prayer? It is a form of communicating and interacting with God. When we are still, He is not. He is working on us from the inside out, doing all kinds of things we can’t comprehend … and some things we can comprehend, like recalibrating us, healing us, redirecting us, tending His garden in our hearts.

Contemplative prayer is one way to “be still” before God. We can learn more about this from the fourth century Desert Fathers, or the more recent writings of Thomas Merton, and Cynthia Bourgeault (Centering Prayer).

But even without reading a book, God can also teach us to be still.

About ten years ago, I lived in Russia as a visiting university lecturer. I lived in Siberia and traveled on occasion to Moscow and to other cities where I gave guest lectures. Conditions were rough, and I became injured a lot, and encountered many exhausting situations. I found myself very often going to some place in the city, like the river in Moscow, or someplace with a view, wherever I was, and just standing and staring. Not staring at anything in particular; just holding perfectly still and “being.” I did this so often, and I credit having done this with the fact that I remained sane, no matter what happened.

It wasn’t until much later, when I learned about contemplative prayer, that I realized God was teaching me to be still. I needed those times of just “being,” so He could recalibrate me and keep me on course, no matter what craziness was going on around me.

Today I find myself doing the same. But more intentionally. I have to take time out each day, and sometimes more than once, throughout the day, to just be still. When I do, I intentionally surrender to God, and invite Him to be in that moment with me. I don’t talk to Him, or listen, or approach Him with my concerns or any kind of agenda. That’s not what “being still” is all about. Instead I just purpose myself to sit with Him, quietly, just aware of His presence and nothing more.

I know He is there, and I know He is doing things in my heart, because I can feel the difference later in the day. But in that moment, all I purpose to do is just “be” with Him.

It makes all the difference in the world.

Have you tried to just sit with God, quietly, no agenda, just “being” present with Him?

It’s not easy to do, in our world of distractions and rambling thoughts. But try it. Even if you can sustain it only for a minute, try it. Even if you have to keep bringing your thoughts back to silence, try it. Submit quietly to God. Tell Him you want to just sit in His presence. Invite Him to join you, and just be with Him.

You will come to appreciate these times of stillness before God. You will find yourself wanting, needing to do this more and more.