A place called “Still”

Very frequently Jesus went out early in the morning to pray.  Where do you think he went?

“Well, probably outside somewhere.” you say.

“Or maybe he walked along the Sea of Galilee.”

I’d say you’re likely right on both counts.

I have another thought.  Prayer is something we do, something in which we engage. But it may even be more a place to which we actually go. And I think that place is called Still.

Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” …Psalm 46:10

Ever been to Still?  I discover that a surprising number of Christ followers aren’t sure they ever have been. Certainly not with much regularity.

Here’s how my friend John Doyel describes the place of Still:

” … let me tell you about a place that I love to go.  I cannot post any pictures of it because it does not have a physical location.  You cannot walk, run, drive or fly there and there is no public transportation system.  However, you can be there in an instant and it is by far the best place that I have ever been.  I cannot describe to you what it looks like because it is not a place you can see. I guess you could imagine some surroundings but I don’t because it is not a place I see but it is a place I sense. Let me introduce you to this place from Psalm 46:10;

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

I had a pastor tell me has hasn’t been quiet like this for a long time.  I know he’s not alone. Again, I defer to my friend John Doyel:

“(Still) is the most wonderful place you can be and you can be there anywhere and at any time. You can take a deep breath or two and remember that He is in control. You can lift your head up and see His power and His grace.  We are His children and He loves us unconditionally and unendingly.”

I think Doyel is right.

But how do you get to Still?  That’s a good question.

Maybe for beginners you could start your day or end your day by sitting in your favorite chair for 5 minutes and just be completely quiet. Quiet as in totally silent. Sit up straight.  Not rigid, but not slouched either.  Place your hands on your thighs turned upward, ready to receive.  Just sit there rhythmically breathing in and breathing out, concentrating on your breathing.

Breathe in the words, “Jesus Christ” and then exhale the words “Son of God.”  Breathe in the words “Have mercy on me” and breathe out “a sinner.” Do it again, and then again, over and over.

Or try this breath prayer, the one the priest Eli gave to the young Samuel (I Samuel 3).

Breathe in “Speak Lord” and exhale “your servant is listening.”

Or how about the first line of Psalm 23, breathing in “The Lord is my shepherd” and exhaling “I shall not want.”

Just sit quietly, repeating the breath prayers over and over, breathing in words and exhaling words.  In due time, I hope and pray that you find the place called Still. I believe you will. All kinds of these can happen in Still.

And yes, of course, my friend John Doyel is right when he says you don’t really even have to go there. You are already there because the Spirit of God is within you.  Yes, that’s true. But usually I can’t get there without being very intentional. Even when I am, there are lots of times I don’t get there, for whatever reason. Maybe that’s called, “Don’s engine is revving way to tight, even at 5am.”

What kinds of things do you think Jesus might have heard when he when to the place of Still? Actually, I have a strong suspicion. I will tell you what I think tomorrow.

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