Being still in God’s presence sounds wonderful, but it’s such an unfamiliar practice in our busy culture.
The goal is to “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts” and minds by submitting all we are to Him and allowing His stillness to refresh our souls.
In this fast-paced world, we rarely get to experience stillness and peace, but Scriptures so often speaks to the importance of resting in God’s presence.
1. Begin with a few minutes of praise and prayer.
Recite verses about God’s goodness and sing songs that lift your heart toward heaven and orient your mind on God.
“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” Psalm 31:19.
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” Exodus 34:6.
Then pour out your heart and tell God about all the things going on in your life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Picture yourself physically taking one burden after another, placing them at His feet, and letting them lay there. Then rest.
2. Meditate on a passage.
When I have a hard time quieting my mind, I like to meditate on Psalm 46:10:
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”
Focus on one word at a time, letting your mind linger on that one word for a few seconds before moving on to the next word. Gradually increase the time frame between each word, until you’ve reached the end and your mind is at rest.
3. Use your imagination.
The Bible includes many descriptive passages of God. I find it helpful to imagine God seated on His throne, using passages like Revelation 4-6 to inform my imagination.
“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne,” Revelation 4:2-3.
Can you picture that? Keep reading; it gets even more wild and beautiful from there. As I imagine Him high and lifted up, I kneel down and bow my face to the ground, picturing myself in the heavenly throne room, joining the angels and the elders in singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and then being still in His presence.
4. Jot down distracting thoughts.
Sometimes, when I’m trying to quiet down my mind, I start to remember all sorts of things like birthday gift ideas, spring cleaning tasks, and meal plans. If that happens to you, grab a pen, write it down, and then return your attention to the Lord. Release those distracting thoughts, knowing you can come back to them later.
5. Recite a prayer of stillness.
God wants you to draw close to Him, and His Spirit is eager to help you pursue God. Ask HIm to help calm your mind like Jesus calmed the storming sea. This can even be an imaginative prayer: Your thoughts are the waves that Jesus commands to be calm.
Acknowledge your racing thoughts and ask the Holy Spirit to rule over them and help your mind rest in His presence. Here’s a prayer for stillness that I wrote a while ago that I still use today.
6. Start small.
Begin with 30 seconds or a minute of stillness. And while 30 seconds may not seem like much, as you begin to incorporate this practice of stillness into your spiritual life, you’ll find it gets easier as the years go by. Then build up to 5 or 10 minutes. It’s in this place of communion with God that we quiet ourselves enough to hear what the Spirit wants to say to us. We often miss His still, small voice in the rush of everyday life.
“The greatest blessing connected with stillness is that we can hear eternity; we can hear the voice of the Eternal One as He speaks to our conscience,” Ole Hallesby, Norwegian theologian, said.
7. Stillness isn’t always quiet and picturesque.
“Hannah must have felt so much turmoil the day Peninnah (her husband’s other wife) threw it in her face that she didn’t have a child. I can almost see her wailing before God, crying out, and pleading for a miracle. In fact, she was making such a fuss that Eli (the priest) thought she was drunk. She wasn’t. Hannah was a desperate woman full of sorrow who simply could not wait still any longer.
“I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord,” 1 Samuel 1:15.
Stillness is trusting God.
This word, still, can go so many directions, but all I see in this picture is that Hannah prayed. Yes, she felt bitter from an empty womb turned gaping wound refusing to heal, but in all this – Hannah prayed. She trusted God. So what if she yelled and cried and looked like a drunken hot mess; she was pouring it all out to the living God – the only One she could trust to eventually deliver her from grief.
It’s perfectly okay for stillness to mean begging, pleading, and wailing, as long as it always ends with trusting. Hannah grappled with God. Because she trusted Him with her deepest pain, she stayed in the presence of a stillness that can only come from the Almighty.
Do you know that, oftentimes, stillness comes after the emotional dam finally breaks? I have no idea why, but it’s usually necessary to lose it before the process of healing begins. You can trust God with your deepest pain. Through it, He will lead you deeper into stillness.”
8. Commit to practicing stillness.
Jennifer Kostick said this about the commitment involved in practicing stillness in her article, “Stillness Requires Commitment.”
“Stillness is sweet. It’s sweet because it’s hard earned, draped in humility, and the focus is completely on God. There’s nothing self-seeking about living still. People who long for stillness must accept that it’s not going to be easy. Stillness requires commitment. It’s a commitment to say, ‘Your will be done, Lord.’ It’s a commitment to keep on when everything is turning upside down. Embrace the great mystery of stillness and commit to small victories.”
God refreshes us in our stillness.
Those are some of the ways I’ve begun to practice stillness and rest in my quiet time. I’ve found such refreshment and joy in just a few moments of stillness with God.