The art of learning to BE still…


Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Psalm 37:7

Most things we want to get good at, we practice. If we want to be a runner we go to the gym and modify the way we eat to improve our energy level. If we want to be a teacher we go to college and study education. If we want to be a driver we learn about traffic laws, practice driving, and obtain a drivers license.

Being something requires hard work and sacrifice, but we are willing to do it to obtain the end goal.

So what about being still? Could it be that this also requires hard work and practice? Studying, learning, and maybe even sacrificing in order to actually become competent in the skill of stillness.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.”

We often read this verse as a nice thought, a good piece of information, maybe a nice suggestion – but how many of us actually decide to put some effort into practicing this skill?

Maybe we try to sit still in prayer for a few minutes but then get bored, fall asleep, or even get so overwhelmed by other racing thoughts and emotions that we can’t handle the stillness – so we give up.

I get it. Being still is tough. It’s a very vulnerable place. The thoughts that enter our minds in quiet places can be weird and even scary sometimes. Emotions can feel overwhelming. But God doesn’t ask us just to be still. He asks that we be still in the center of His presence. That can be even more intimidating. Stillness itself is a vulnerable choice but being vulnerable in the presence of God? Even tougher.

So how do we get there? How do we hone the art of stillness in the presence of God?

If we want to be still we must practice and prepare.

First of all, prepare your heart to look for redemption rather than condemnation. If you are going to sit alone in the presence of God some of your past sins and sorrows are going to pop up, and that is good and to be expected. Just let them. And realize the goal of the Holy Spirit is to help you heal from, release, and repent regarding these things. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

Second, don’t shame yourself for thoughts and emotions that wander. They are going to wander. It’s not just a possibility. It’s a given. I use something called the breath prayer to keep myself mindful of His Spirit. It works. If you don’t know what breath prayer is, please read the information at this link. Bottom line, don’t beat yourself up for having wandering thoughts in the presence of God, just bring them back and refocus on your time with Him. Bring them back as many times as it takes. You will find they wander less and less as you learn to practice this art of stillness.

Third, recognize that there may be dull spots. You aren’t going to have a deep spiritual feeling of encounter every time you get still in the presence of God.  And that’s ok. You don’t need to. Being still in the presence of God is so much deeper than an emotional experience. At times you will feel deeply connected, and other times you may not. One thing I do to help with this is pray every day that God will increase my passion and desire for Him, so that despite the presence or absence of emotions – I continue to seek more of Him and less of me.

I hope these things help. I cannot begin to explain all the ways in which my relationship with Him has deepened since I started just being still in His presence. And not only greater depth, but a much more profound sense of calm and peace has begun to wash over me – not just in my prayer and still time – but throughout my day.

If we want to learn to be calmed by and in the presence of God, it is something we must practice – daily.

Be still.



  1. Christine says

    Great information Stephanie. I always give myself a hard time for all the wandering thoughts. I appreciate that you excuse those and say they will become less with practice.

    • stephanieclayton says

      And when we beat ourselves up they often come on even stronger! Just accept them, redirect your mind, and keep connecting with the Lord 🙂

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