"Be still and know that I am God."
~ Psalm 46:10
~ Psalm 46:10
We live in an age of words, don't we? Perhaps too many words. Especially in areas of the world where we are urged to voice our opinions and make our views known to anyone who will hear us. We have online news, blogs, newspapers, publications, books, magazines -- and those are just written words! Sometimes I experience information overload and just desire someone to give me what I want to know in a concise way. I don't want to sift through tons of websites for the facts. Sometimes all this information becomes way too much to handle and a straight-to-the-point article suffices quite nicely! Less is more, right?
In a chapter on the Lord's prayer, author Kenneth Bailey reminds us of the following advice that Jesus shared with his followers prior to teaching them how to pray.
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
The author then recalls that Jesus occasionally spent all night in prayer to his Father. An example of few words and then long nights of prayer? How does that work exactly? "Did prayer for Jesus include long periods of Spirit-filled silent communication with God that was beyond the need for words?"
The author continues:
"The Fathers of the Eastern Churches certainly thought so. In the seventh century, Isaac the Syrian wrote about 'stillness,' which in his writings has been summarized as 'a deliberate denial of the gift of words for the sake of achieving inner silence, in the midst of which a person can hear the presence of God. It is standing unceasingly, silent, and prayerfully before God.'" (pg. 92)
That's kind of deep so reread that last quote again. How many of us have been taught this form of prayer in our places of worship? I hope that you have and I'm just a late learner. I found this quite impressive. Instead of trying to fill my prayer time with words, words and more words from me, I need to be silent, to be still, to stand in awe of the Almighty! Wow.
I'm thinking this is going to take some self-discipline. It's very difficult for me to be still -- especially my mind. I can physically be still, but my mind continues thinking of things to blog, thinking of people I need to contact, places I should go, things I need to be doing. Ugh, it's hard to be still. But I think it will be worthwhile to get to this place that Isaac the Syrian described.
I love this verse the author shared. It summed it up pretty well.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 reads,
Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.
I need to hear more from God rather than fill our time together with my words. How about you? Do you struggle with being still before God? Is this something you were taught from your parents or in your places of worship?
For some reason writing this post reminded me of I Kings 19 and the time when the prophet Elijah was standing in God's presence. Maybe I'll blog about that sometime.
Quotes from Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey