Many years ago, when I longed for extra spiritual nourishment, a wise friend suggested I buy an mp3 player so I'd be able to listen to sermons and audio books with ease. My first response was that I hated sticking anything into my ears! But … on further reflection, I realised I could buy headphones which covered my ears rather than ear buds that went inside them. A few weeks later, my beloved gave me the perfect gift for our wedding anniversary—a lovely little mp3 player. I was thrilled. And oh the sustenance and joy I’ve received through it!
Best of all, mindless chores don’t bore me any longer—as my hands get busy with a task, my soul feasts on scrumptious spiritual delicacies. I love it. A few weeks ago, I was shocked to witness the sudden demise of my wonderful mp3 player. A search on the internet revealed that mp3s are not fashionable any more—phones seem to have replaced them. I was desperate to get another. What to do?
My son had an extra Creative Zen I could use. Hooray! Problem solved. I immediately downloaded audio books and CD’s into it and have been enjoying it to my heart’s content. My new player is similar to what I owned before, but while my old player came on instantly, I had to keep pressing the ‘on’ button many times in this one in order to turn it on. One day, after I pressed the on switch, I got busy with another task for a few moments. What a surprise to find that my player did come on soon enough without my aiding the process. So apparently, all that extra pressing was completely unnecessary! Fancy that! I only needed a little patience!
In this digital age, we often demand quick responses and don’t like to be kept waiting. You and I have forgotten what it is to be still. What does it mean to be still before God in prayer? Does it mean that I only pray once about a need and then leave it to God? In Luke 18, though, Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a widow who kept coming to a judge till he finally gave in—a story about persevering in prayer. In my own experience too I have discovered that God asks me to keep pressing on in prayer for needs of the world and the needs of my family.
What then does it mean to ‘Be still’ as we come before Him? Perhaps it means that we remember that only God can make a difference to the situation we are praying about. When I am still before Him, I acknowledge His Lordship; I give Him total freedom to bestow His answer in His way and His time. It’s not my pressing the ‘God’ button a dozen times that summons God’s help. No—He is working on my behalf even before I cry out to Him. He is always in control, even if evidence seems to point to the contrary. All my efforts won’t make His answers arrive faster. But when I pray in dependence on Him, with thanksgiving, my trust in Him grows and deepens. Perhaps what God expects of me is to pray once about it—then, to thank Him often in faith for His answers that will arrive at His appointed time. After all, prayer is more about developing a love relationship with God more than anything else.
The book of James reminds us that our well made plans often will go awry unless they are part of God’s purpose for us. Perhaps being still means coming to Him first—before I make my plans—so that I can hear Him and follow His lead. Perhaps being still is allowing God to have His God-hat on? Perhaps being still is knowing that without His Presence in my life I can do nothing of value or significance. Perhaps being still is learning an inward stillness or finding a peace that nothing could destroy?
Is God calling you to ‘Be still’ today?
Are you up to the challenge?
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14