There is a desire in our noisy, busy, socially connected world to find — quiet.
This can be a good thing. How will we appreciate the beauty of God’s creation if we never stop to admire it? If we are always going, doing, or coordinating, when will we find the opportunity to learn or follow God’s direction?
God promises to keep us in His perfect peace which passes all understanding. Even so, many Christians are on the hunt for peace through the idea of being “still”.
Admittedly, this view of “being still” is very appealing on the surface. The idea of “disconnecting” with what keeps us moving through our daily schedule makes one hungry for a place free of white noise.
But when you dig a little deeper into this idea of “stillness”, you discover a New Age/Occult/Eastern practice cloaked as an emotional, spiritual experience with God through our “inner selves”.
In various spiritual traditions or beliefs, being “still” means relaxing the body, turning our mind “off” or dismissing thoughts, so the person can go deeper with God. Many Christians espousing this idea will cite Psalm 46:10a “Be still and know that I am God” as a call to “inner stillness”. The problem—this is not what the verse is saying at all.
Take a look at the entire Psalm from which this partial verse is gleaned:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
What we see in verse 10 is God’s call for the nations to stop—pay attention—the Lord will be praised. It is not a personal or individual call to “inner stillness” as it is being used today
I understand the desire to be quiet or still.
Modern life is hectic, fast paced, and we need to make space in our lives for quiet. The “discipline of stillness” (or any spiritual practice which borrows from wisdom literature or traditions outside the Bible) is not the way to achieve it. I practiced Eastern Meditation for eight years. Yes, it provides a sense of well being or a “spiritual high” but is this what the Lord calls us to experience in His presence?
I don’t believe so.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high;I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 131
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Psalm 37:5-7
When the Bible speaks of being quiet, it is not a call to draw within or disengage our mind but rather to express our humility and awe in God’s presence. The Lord is surrounded by worship and praise at all times. Silence in heaven only occurs for half an hour when the Lamb of God breaks the seventh seal. (Revelation 8:1) Indeed, we are called to pray without ceasing, rejoice always.
The Bible does tell us to stop striving in our own strength, stand still, and pay attention to God. That is how we find quiet at His feet.
The meditation we are called to do in scripture is active, participatory with God’s presence. We learn who God is and His will through reading and meditating upon the Bible (which is His word). Even in the example of Mary and Martha, the sister who sat at Jesus feet was engaged by paying attention and listening to what He was teaching.
As Christians, we need not look within for a quiet place or to enjoy the peace which passes all understanding. We have God’s promise. Those things are added to us as we seek God’s presence (daily) through prayer and meditation upon His word.
This informative memoir and Bible study offers one woman’s unique perspective on Christianity, our world’s fascination with the supernatural, and God’s saving grace.