Active children cannot keep still or sit still. Active workers cannot stop their work even for a little while. They just have to be occupied with something to do. It is really hard to slow them down. In the Christian community, we are no exception. We have one activity after another to get ourselves busy with. We create more and more activities. We are never short of activities. The stillness of the soul is seldom pursued after by the people of God in many Christian communities.
The Bible has several references to this aspect of the stillness of the soul. In Psalm 36:7a, we are instructed to ‘be still before the LORD’. We need to instruct ourselves to be silent before the LORD. We need to quieten our soul before the Almighty God. We need to have that restedness in the LORD. When our mind is preoccupied with many other things, we cannot be still before our loving God. We need to cultivate that stillness before God. One way to cultivate this stillness is to sing songs to the Lord. If I ask you to completely keep quiet and be silent for a certain time, it is very difficult to do.
For me, stillness does not mean complete silence. “Stillness” means “preparing my heart to slowly focus on the Lord and then, immersing myself in His presence.” When I sing songs like “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”, it helps me to focus on our Lord Jesus. I allow the lyrics of the song to minister to me. As I ponder over the richness of its lyrics, I found myself enjoying the presence of the Lord. Other songs like “There is none like You” enables me to acknowledge the reality of God in my life. It helps me to focus on God rather than on self or on others. The stillness of the soul is caught up in the wonderful presence of God.
In Psalm 46:10, it was recorded as “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The wonderful knowledge of God comes through the stillness of the soul. The reality of God touches the innermost being of our soul. To know that God is God, we have to immerse ourselves in His blessed presence. To enter into the very presence of God requires our determination and discipline to spend that undivided, undistracted time with God. Having suitable songs and having solitude help to re-focus our thoughts on the Almighty God. Having the words of God enhances the sweet encounter with God. I have personally learnt the blessedness of God’s wonderful presence in my life. It is my hope and my prayer that each of us will discover this blessedness for ourselves. “Be still” is what the Word of God instructs us. When God is our preoccupation, other things become of no significance. We are caught up in enjoying Him and Him alone and the fellowship with Him is so wonderful and beyond description. Let us, therefore, discipline ourselves to “Be Still” before the Lord our God. Amen.
Another way to cultivate this stillness is to write down your prayers which you want to utter to the Lord. Sometimes, when you want to pray, no thoughts flow through your mind and no words come forth from your mouth. You just have to start writing down what you want to tell God on a notebook or on a piece of paper. One day, while I was in my room, I wanted to pray but no words came out from my mouth. When I started writing down my prayer, I began to see my thought patterns started flowing from my mind. Sometimes, you just have to utter a simple prayer: “Lord God Almighty, I want to talk with You through prayer. Please lead me in prayer. Amen.” The Lord knows the desire of our heart. If you sincerely ask Him, He will answer you. Recently, I discover that writing down my prayers and then, praying them aloud to God enriches my encounter with God. I am able to focus on God and His Word when I learn to cultivate this habit of writing down my prayers.
To me, this is what it means to “be still before the Lord.” Besides praying to God, I also learn to listen to God. It is always good to have pauses in-between prayers so that you can give some time to listen to what God may be speaking to you. As you come to God and learning to wait upon the Lord, you are cultivating the stillness of the soul. Therefore, let us not neglect the necessity of coming to God in such a manner, that is, “be still before the Lord”. May all of us learn to enjoy the presence of the Lord by being still before Him!
Pr George Ang
August 3, 2014