Has your brain ever been so full that you couldn’t possibly think about another thing? Or perhaps your mind is troubled and anxiety and fear are taking over to the point you cannot make good decisions. If either of these describes you or if you find yourself somewhere in between then this post on learning to be still is for you.
Because we really weren’t meant to live in hyper mode. I know, you didn’t make this happen (well maybe some parts of it, if we are being completely transparent here) but you are running at a speed that is unhealthy to you in all areas of your life and it is time to be still.
We will get to that in a moment. First, I want to talk about what God means when he says to be still.
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What Does it Mean When God Says to Be Still?
God wants us to allow Him to work in our lives. He wants us to trust Him as Almighty God, the great Yahweh, provider and protector. He wants us to give our struggles and stresses to Him and leave them there.
When the children of Israel were sandwiched between the Red Sea and Pharoah’s mighty army, they cried out in fear and what does Moses tell them?
“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.” (Exodus 14:13)
He is telling them to do nothing. Why? Because God had it. Just like He has whatever is going on in your life today.
When we are running around putting out fires and trying to solve problems ourselves, we are often trying to do God’s work for Him. When we do this, we wear ourselves into a frazzled mess because, obviously, we are not God.
To be still means to allow God to work. To step aside and patiently wait for Him to take care of your situation.
Be Still and Know that I am God
The concept of “be still” comes from Psalm 46:10.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The entire Psalm is about how great and powerful God is. Here He is telling everyone (wicked nations included) to stop struggling and resisting the one true God.
Far too often we do struggle and resist God. Maybe not on purpose or even consciously, but we find ourselves trying to force God’s will or praying for only the outcome we desire and not for His will to be done. We run ahead of God, refuse to give up control, or even outright resist what we know is His will.
All of these things are the opposite of being still. However, you are here because you are learning to be still so let’s take a look at this psalm and see how we can use it to quiet our minds and hearts. We can be still because:
- God is our refuge and strength (vs 1)
- God is always here to help us in trouble (vs 1)
- God is in the midst of His people (vs 5)
- God keeps us steady and secure (vs 5)
- God is all powerful (vs 6)
- He brings peace (vs 9)
Looking to grow your faith and be more intentional about prayer and bible study? Check out all of our spiritual growth resources!
Learning to Be Still: 4 Reminders for Mothers
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Like anything, learning to be still takes practice. We need to get our thoughts and our hearts to focus on God and not on the world around us. We need to control what we are thinking about and how we are reacting.
I suggest you work on one area at a time. While there are a lot of different areas in which we need to learn to be still, I have three that are a great place to start.
- Controlling our emotions
- Focusing while praying
- Applying God’s word in our lives
Controlling our Emotions
Learning to be still begins with controlling our emotions. Actually, it probably begins with controlling our thoughts. Paul was wise when he wrote Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Learning to be still comes with learning to control our thoughts. Anything that does not show up on this list of Paul’s needs to be dismissed. Fear, you do not belong. Jealousy, you are not welcome. Worry, you are not on the list.
When our thoughts are not focused on God then our emotions are all over the place. We move without praying, become frustrated, angry, anxious, and far too often act without God’s leading.
Have you ever gotten impatient and went ahead on your own? Perhaps you even knew it was God’s will but He wasn’t moving quite fast enough to suit you. How did that turn out? I bet you wish you had learned to be still first and patiently wait.
What about working yourself into a frenzy about something that may or may not be about to happen? Is your job threatened or your health failing? Big life changes can cause us to become anxious, fearful, and stressed. These are the times in which learning to be still pays off because we are not ruled by our emotions, we are ruled by God’s peace and joy.
Focusing While Praying
Have you ever begun your prayer with a complete focus on God and the next thing you know, you are planning your grocery list? Me too! Ugh!
How are we ever going to learn to be still if we can’t focus for five minutes??
Here are a few ideas that work for me:
- Write your prayers down. You will be focusing on each word as you write. This works really well for studying Bible verses as well.
- Less is better, at least at first. While we would all love to say we spent thirty full minutes deep in prayer, the reality of it is that few of us have trained ourselves for that kind of stillness. Start small. Five minutes, three minutes of uninterrupted (I mean from your own thoughts!) prayers and then slowly increase your time. Keep pulling your thoughts back to your prayer.
- Pray scripture. Praying God’s word back to Him is not only effective but helps us focus on our prayer because we are taking His word and turning it into our own prayer which helps us focus on every word. I explain more about praying scripture in “Why Praying the Psalms in a Blessing and How to Go About It”
As we learn to be still in our prayer life it will flow over to other areas of our lives. The same with scripture. When we read scripture and still our own thoughts, God’s voice can be heard.
Applying God’s Word to Our Lives
Just like praying scripture, you will find that the more you apply God’s word to your life, the more you will learn to be still. The concentrated act of living God’s word lends itself to being still because your focus and trust are placed on Him.
Here are a few verses to apply to your life as you are learning to be still.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
We can learn to be still while we are rejoicing in God’s grace and goodness. When we see God working in our lives and actually recognize it as Him then we are learning to wait on Him more and more.
Giving thanks is a wonderful way to be still. It might not sound like it, but just like I mentioned in the last paragraph, by recognizing that God is working in your life you learn to wait on Him.
We have mentioned prayer already, but I neglected to say that by praying throughout the day, we are constantly reaffirming our trust and commitment to God. Some situations require us to lay them at His feet over and over.
When we pray, we are connecting to him and growing our relationship. Both of these lead to being still because as we draw closer to Him, our confidence grows and it becomes easier to allow Him to lead.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 5:25-34)
If money troubles are preventing you from being still, take these verses to heart. Study them, embrace them, believe them, pray them.
There is comfort in learning to be still as well as a sense of relief. We were never meant to shoulder the negative of this world alone. God is with us, He’s simply waiting for us to put our trust in Him.
Hi, I’m Heather from Lessons from Home. I’m in love with my five kids, homeschooling, and all things chocolate. At lessons from home I share my parenting journey along with the lessons God teaches me as I learn to follow Him wherever He leads. Healing from loss is a major part of my story as my family walks the dark path of grief after losing my beautiful 8 year old daughter.