First Timothy 4:7 instructs us to “discipline [ourselves] for the purpose of godliness”. Discipline is the path to seeking and making the best choices for our fleeting life.
It may not be a very exciting word, but the rewards of discipline are everything we want from life. And it’s well worth the effort of cultivating it, even when our attempts fall short.
Scripture speaks of many godly disciplines; today, we look at one:
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Stillness is key to understanding and knowing God. Without taking the necessary time to still ourselves, we tend to be our own gods, solving our own problems, managing our own lives. This never leads to anything good. The godly person understands that he/she must take the time to be still.
The word ‘still’ in this verse is a verb. Being still is something we do. It is a practice, something that takes effort and intentionality on our part. The Hebrew expression for ‘still’ is ‘raphah’ and literally means to let go, sink down, relax, relinquish control.
Without taking the necessary time to still ourselves, we tend to be our own gods
In short, you could say stillness is doing nothing. It’s letting go of the striving and controlling, the worry and anxiety, the disappointments and failures, the hurts and lack of forgiveness, and the injustices and fears.
The soundness of solitude
Stillness reminds us that God is God and we are not. How?
- It reminds us of God’s sovereignty. Busyness is deceptive. We can feel important, powerful, and in control when we are busy. Activity often gives us a sense of safety and security. Busyness can drown out the reality of our pain and limitations. By stilling ourselves, ceasing from work and activity, and spending time alone with God, we are reminded that God alone is sovereign — and that we are not. Yes, we can make wise choices but, ultimately, God is sovereign. Without Him, we labour in vain.
- It reminds us that God can’t be controlled — but He can be known. Let’s face it. God’s sovereignty can be scary. What if He doesn’t heal me or my loved one? What if He doesn’t come through for me in the way I think is best? What if He isn’t really for me or have my best interests at heart? What if it’s His will to strip me of everything? Stillness forces us to face these questions and fears and honestly take a look at the nature of God. It forces us to grapple with hard realities and reject quick, easy solutions. It is only in spiritual stillness that we truly and deeply ask, “Who are You, God?” Only in stillness can we ask hard questions and, in the waiting, grow in understanding. Stillness allows us to be led down the path of intimacy with God.
- It allows us to experience God’s nearness. Sometimes you’ll hear someone talk about how God “got their attention”. Most often, they will refer back to a major event or crisis of some sort in their life that God spoke through. But God often speaks in hushes (remember Elijah in 1 Kings 19?). We don’t necessarily need big moves from God in order to hear Him. If we are still and quiet, we can often hear His voice. And sometimes, it’s only in the still and quiet that we hear His voice and know His presence. If you are waiting on God to speak to you, consider perhaps He is waiting on you to get still and quiet enough to hear Him.
Only in stillness can we ask hard questions and, in the waiting, grow in understanding
- It gives the opportunity to exchange weakness for strength. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In quietness and trust is your strength.” Quieting ourselves before God represents humility, trust, and submission. As we humble ourselves and embrace His sovereignty, as we look to Him as our hope, God will help us in our weakness. Faith pleases Him. True humility and trust please God and move Him to help us. It’s the way He has designed for us to tap into His strength. There is a great exchange of strength that happens in the stillness.
To practice the discipline of being still, we can:
- Choose a time and a place for practising stillness every day. Stillness is best done in solitude, so be sure your time and place is secluded.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Be physically still in your quiet place.
- Quiet your mind.
- Sit with your disappointments. Feel the reality of your limitations, letdowns and everything that’s undone. It really is okay!
- Offer this time to the Lord in faith. Tell Him you wish to deliberately acknowledge His sovereignty and control over your life. Invite Him to reveal Himself to you in the stillness and give Him the floor.
- Wait for the Lord. Don’t go into your time with an agenda. Simply sit before Him. If worries and thoughts take your mind down a rabbit trail, gently tell yourself this is not the time for that and again invite the Lord to speak.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise You for You are Sovereign. Please teach us to be still and know that You are God. Help us, Father, to discipline ourselves into being still, so that we do not revert to being our own gods. May we learn to hear you speak to us in our life situations. We humbly submit ourselves to you, Sovereign God. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.