Written By: Pastor Tanner Church
“Be still and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10
In a time that is full of uncertainty and fear a verse like this seems both so needed and so difficult.
Being still is not what I want to do at all but how can I do that?
There is so much happening and so much to worry about and to do.
We struggle so much because the pace of modern life is fast. It’s constant movement and we have become accustomed to this way of life. Being still seems like a far off and uncomfortable thing to do.
I have struggled with this and have come to the place in my life as a husband and father and most of all a Jesus follower where I am not ok with this pace.
Jesus has some incredible and refreshing things for us, but they are only found when we go at his pace which is much slower than ours.
I have been on a journey for a few months now trying to figure this exact thing out. And while I haven’t arrived by any means, I have seen the faithfulness of God and he has shown me things that have been so life giving. Some of what I am going to talk about may seem simple or obvious, but I think that it’s the things we think are simple and have overlooked that are what we need to break through in order to experience the fullness of life that Jesus has for us.
So, lets do it.
I think for a lot of us prayer can be difficult or strange. I think this has a lot to do with an unhealthy idea of prayer. We think prayer is a mental ascent to God who is in some far away location. I must have my mind free from distraction and focus so that God can hear me. I need to have the right words and have it all in the right order so my prayer will work. Expectations like these can make prayer difficult, or at least a bit of a struggle.
Here is how I think about it and how I think the Bible would pose it.
Our soul is the real us. (This might seem random but go with me.) We are not a body, but a soul made in the image of God. Our soul is the real us, what we feel, our personality, our desires, our emotions, everything we are. Our soul is real and and it is unique to each of us. If you were to do an Xray of my entire body (again I know this is random, just go with me) or to look through my body, you would not see a soul. It cannot be seen but it is more of who I am than my entire body. God occupies all the space around us in the same way our souls occupy our bodies. He cannot be seen but he is as real as our soul. God is not in some far off location but very literally in every space around and in us.
God’s closeness to us is crucial in understanding prayer. We don’t have to mentally struggle to connect with a God who is far off. He is closer than your own skin!
Knowledge of this, for me, makes prayer easier. There is no way God could not hear me. He is in the very breath I breath. I don’t have to strain with energy to connect with him, like someone holding there phone as high as they can on the tips of there toes to get better signal. I can just speak with the knowledge that he is listening.
So, find a spot, maybe a chair, a spot on the floor or in your garage. Wherever that spot is, take a few minutes — like 10 or 15 if you can — and talk. Talk about everything. And remember, He is your Father who cares about everything. Big or small. He wants to hear. Thank Him for things in your life, ask him for things you need, apologize for things you have said or done that you know were wrong. Say it all.
Another form of prayer that I love and I think is so life giving is “breathe prayers.”
An old pastor of mine told me about this and I have no idea where it came from but its wonderful. If you are busy or stressed and don’t have time to find a spot or 10 or 15 minutes, you still have time to breathe.
Take a few breaths and talk with your Father. Breathe out anger, shame, worry, and breathe in His love, His peace, His forgiveness. Within a breath, express yourself to God. If it helps to even say what you are breathing out and in under your breath, do it. And remember above everything else, there is no law about this. There is no condemnation here. Practice makes perfect and he sees your steps and is not expecting perfection. He knows and loves you.
What am I supposed to “know” about God?
Psalm 46 says to “Be still and know God” so how am I supposed to know him? And what am I supposed to know about him?
God is a person. He has emotion and preferences like any other person. Obviously, God is very different than us, but nevertheless, He is not an emotionless, human being. He is a person with characteristics and personality.
Imagine how your best friend or spouse would react if you said that you “knew” them but you really only meant you acknowledge that they were are physically present before you. That would not feel good to anyone. We want to be known. We make ourselves known by showing and sharing our emotions and thoughts with people we are close to and care about. We have characteristics and it feels so good when the people who we love and are close to recognize those characteristics and see us for who we have shown ourselves to be.
One of the most harmful things that can happen to a person is to be seen and known by someones idea of you and not who you really are. So, what are we to “know” about God? That he is a person who wants to be seen and recognized by who He has shown himself to be and not by our idea of him. To recognize that he has shown who he is and how he wants to be known and loved through his word. We need to “know” who God is, how he has presented himself who he has shown himself to be.
One of the best ways to know God and show him love in a way that he loves to receive it, is through worship.
This can for sure look like singing but it is not limited to that. John 4:25 says to worship God in spirit and in truth. This means to worship him with your true self. Who you truly are. Your personhood and your personality pressed into God. Enjoying him and his presence.
We have made worship hard. Something that is difficult and that seems like we have to work for it. It’s not true. We are literally made to worship. It comes as easy to us as anything does. We focus on and rejoice in so many things throughout our day. This is natural and easy for us because it was placed in us by God himself. Simply rejoicing in, focusing on and being in his presence is worship to him. He loves it.
So, throughout your day, when you have a pause or a free moment, just rest and be in his presence as a righteous and loved son or daughter of God. That is worship and that is knowing him and giving him love in a form that he loves because of who he is.
My last encouragement for all of us is this: Christians are notorious for trying really hard to do these things and then we fail.
So, lets not try really hard, but lets train really hard. You don’t try to run a marathon. You train. You make little steps forward every day. We are on a journey and if you mess up or fall short, go again, get back up, train harder. God sees our training and our work and he loves it and it means so much to him in and of itself. He is your Father and he loves you.
So, my thought and challenge for myself and for you, if you are willing, is to acknowledge that God is closer to me than I am probably comfortable with and I can speak to him easily.
There is no strain or pressure, but speaking as one does to a friend.
And, to explore who God has shown himself to be and not whatever my idea of him is (which is informed by parents, pastors, politics, friends, culture, movies, and the list goes on and on).
God has shown himself as his true self in his word. A great place to start is the Gospels. Jesus is said to be the visible image of an invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and everything he did and said is what his Father in heaven does and says.
I truly believe that if we spend time in prayer and communicate to God our thoughts and feelings, it will give us a sense of his closeness and true affection and love for us as well as making us feel known. And if we spend time knowing God for who he is, our relationship will expand and thrive is a way that is special and beautiful.
Some potentially helpful tools and books to read are:
– The album “Forever Amen” by Stephanie Gretzinger
– Psalm 139
– Matthew 6 (The Lords Prayer)
– The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
– The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer