One of the most commonly known lines in the Psalms comes from chapter 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” When we think about praying, there are three really helpful ideas in this statement: to be still, to know God, and to know yourself. With inventions like the clock, the lightbulb, and the iPhone, our natural tendency towards hurry and efficiency has only increased. The invitation of prayer is the invitation to be still — to stop playing God over your own life for a moment. To put productivity and busyness aside for a bit, to release control, and to return to the created order.
But stillness is only where prayer starts. In that stillness, we begin to know God and to start to see things from God’s perspective. We are all addicted to ego and control, prone to go about our lives like we are the center. Stillness is the quiet space where God migrates from the periphery back to the center — and prayer pours forth effortlessly from a life with God at the center. Lastly, beyond self-help and ego management, prayer is an invitation to really know yourself. When we live in constant noise, we forget our own mortality and forget who we are. But when we remember our mortality, we recover who we are. When I pray, when I see myself as I really am from God’s perspective, I behold not only my own smallness but also how valuable I truly am to God.
This week, we want to recover a vision of what it means when God says to “be still and know that I am God.”
- Why do you think we stay busy? What does busyness do for us?
- What is your response to the idea of being still? Does it bring up anxiety? Do you long for it? Maybe both?
- Do you have any regular rhythm of “being still”? If so, share what it is and what it’s been like for you.
Practice for Tonight
Last week, we explored forming a regular rhythm of prayer for the duration of this season. Tonight, we want to debrief how that’s been going. Whether you want to talk together as a whole group or break into smaller groups, spend time updating each other on what that experience has been like for you. Some questions to help guide that time, should you need it, might be:
- What prayer rhythm did I want to try through this series?
- What has been good about it? (e.g. it feels more natural than I thought it would, I had a cool moment with God, I am feeling more centered each day, etc.)
- What has been difficult? (e.g. I haven’t been able to keep the rhythm as often as I thought, it’s felt frustrating or boring, I don’t know if I’m doing it right, etc.)
- What changes to your rhythm do you think would be good?
Practice for the Week Ahead
Pick a consistent time — perhaps the first or last minutes of your daily routine. It may be the final moments before rushing off on your morning commute, the sudden silence right after dropping the kids at school, the daily run out of the office for lunch break, or after your roommates leave in the morning. And try to make the time consistent, since there is no such thing as a habit or priority that doesn’t happen consistently.
Next choose an ordinary place — your favorite chair, the back porch steps, the upstairs balcony, or the window seat of the city bus — and let it become a sort of “ordinary holy ground.” Set a timer, so you don’t have to keep checking the clock, and then be quiet and still. Wait. Start with two minutes. (Bump it up as you feel ready.)
Sit up straight with your two feet planted firmly on the ground, hands open on your lap. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly three times. Pray something simple like, “Here I am, Lord,” or “Come, Holy Spirit,” or “Lord, have mercy.”
The purpose of this stillness is not revelation, though it’s nice when that happens. The purpose is consent — consenting to the work of God’s Spirit, which is deeper than understanding or words. Practice this silence as a sacrificial offering to God. After the timer goes off, let spoken prayer follow as a response.
Close in Prayer
Before you end your time together, pray, asking the Spirit of God to fill and empower you to pray as you can. Take some time to pray for other prayer requests as they come up.