Thursday, March 19, 2009

Being still

Anne recently asked: "The thing i need to learn and find hard to do is to sit still and listen to God. i need to figure out how to do that coz normally i pray and my mind starts thinking of all the things i have to do before work. How do i sit still??"

First thing I'd say is figure out what helps you "get your head in the game." Listening to worship music can often help with this. Reading a few passages from the Bible can too. Also, position yourself best you can to avoid distractions. I've mentioned here before that I often sit in front of a window with the rest of the room behind me so I don't see the other things that need doing (dishes, laundry, computer, to-do list).

Occasionally I get down on my knees, face-down on the floor to pray, like in "child's pose" (only thing to notice there is if the carpet needs cleaning). But there are times too that I'm totally focused with God, and I'm sitting in the middle of a coffee shop or cafe with my laptop. So don't feel like you can only be still and hear from God while all alone in an empty room.

The second thing I'd say is pray with a pen in your hand. Have some paper in front of you. When thoughts about what you need to do today or tomorrow come to your mind - and they will - jot them down to clear your mind and know you've now got a reminder for later. Don't worry that these thoughts are popping in your head - just take your pen, deal with them quickly, and move on.

I also encourage you to write down anything you feel God may be impressing on your heart. Write what you think He is saying to You as you pray or read, or what you think the Bible passage you just read means. Record whatever is bouncing around in your mind - thoughts, verses, questions, whatever. You can re-read these the next time you sit down to pray and listen, and that can be helpful too. For me, even just holding the pen to the paper helps me stay focused on what I'm doing now.

Maybe someone else will have more to suggest. What helps you "be still" and focused when praying?

I catch an early morning flight tomorrow to do a women's retreat this weekend with Cornerstone Christian Church. (prayers for the weekend welcomed.) We're headed to a resort in the Pocono mountains for some relaxation and time with God. I'm excited. I'm also secretly hoping to squeeze in a massage or a pedicure before I head home on Sunday since there's a spa at the resort. When they gave me the details and asked me last year if I'd do this retreat, I thought, Are you kidding?! You had me at the word "spa!"

Before you get all envious about that (admit it, you did!), you should know that sometimes I spend the weekend in rustic retreat centers. You know, the kind where you bring your own linens, or sleep in bunk beds, or see snakes by your cabin door, or get bitten by spiders while you sleep, or have no heat and it's late fall. That can be it's own kind of fun - especially when enduring it all with some girlfreinds in God. But, yes, I'm looking forward to this weekend, in this hotel, with these ladies. :)
But I'll be wishing all of you were there. Have a good weekend!


  1. Your post on sitting still was very helpful. I don't know if I've ever really done that. I've been praying to hear that still small voice that everyone talks about and now I know why I haven't. You never get too old to learn something. I'm sure I've known that and heard it preached and talked about but just sitting still before God - I don't think I have. Praise God He doesn't hold those kind of things against us because He has certainly been good to me and done some miraculous things in my life.

    The poconos? Wow, I've heard about the bridal sweet in one of the hotels there. There was a red heart shaped hot tub in the bedroom. The couple that told us about it (family members) recently built a new home on Qwarrie Point and guess what's in their bedroom. Your right, I saw it with my own eyes. The whole house is unbelieveable. I'm sorry, I got off the subject but I just had to tell you.

    Back to the serious part. I pray that your weekend will go as you and God have planned it and that you do get to the spa.
    Have a great time,

  2. Just sent up a prayer for travel mercies, and kingdom impact! I also prayed that you get some "still" time with God and that you get some time at the spa!

    Be blessed with a wonderful weekend!

  3. I have struggled with being still-this year I am committed to making this practice a reality. I started with Lent- I have begun to set still before the Lord before going to bed- the last hour- I have my bible- prayers, and others reading for Lent- I choose a person or persons. world, Body of Christ, Women in blog world, church etc to pray for each night.
    I have my journel-which I don't get to every night but some. This time has become very valuable and important to me- I must admit that I still have not captured the listening altogether so please pray I can master this also. Some time I play music others not. Some nights I just have complete quiet- this is all from a woman who slept with the tv on or music. so for the person who ask the question begin asking God to open the way for you to get still before Him. I also read everything I see about bing still-which lead me here today. God will show the way which works est for you. He did me. Be Blessed!

    Lord bless Rachel weekend fill her with the power of Your holy Spirit and let Thy anointing rest upon all. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen

  4. My mind can flip around from one subject to another in a second. My prayerlife came alive when I wrote my prayers (in a simple code to keep hurts, etc. from anyone reading them). Not only did I stay focused on the Lord, but I now am blessed as I re-read these journals and see the mighty hand of gracious God in my life and my friends and family. REading the answered prayers encourages me in the present when fear is shaking my faith.

    This series on prayer is a blessing. Thank you.

  5. I really struggle in this area and I know that one of the reason is because I have ADD or something, I'm not claiming it on myself but man I have always had a hard time focusing and my son is the same way so I am really aware of it now. I have been in a 40 day fast until Easter with my church and I'm fasting dinner, (I still cook for my children) so during that time and after they go to bed I have been really trying to sit quite with the Lord. I want to experience that still small voice also. Its difficult but I refuse to give up. I don't do it every night as my schedule will not permit and sometimes I need to just watch unimportant things on TV to relax but I have been really trying and I know that it has greatly improved my relationship with Him. Thank Rachael and I prayed right when I read about your retreat and I know that it will be very successful and can't wait to hear about. Be safe and God bless
    Ingyr, Columbus, OH

  6. I am so faithful in getting up early to pray, read my devotional, "Praying the Names of God", and doing some writing, but I am missing the being still part.

    It is so hard to do. I am going to work to incorporate some "still" time in my mornings. That has always been a struggle for me.

    I think we tend to feel that if we are still, something is not getting done. It's not the same with God. He wants us to be still and know Him.

    Blessings to you on your trip!

  7. I find it easiest to be still at night before I go to bed, morning for me is too hectic. I need to not go to bed for the quiet prayer time, because I fall asleep! I sit in the dark, close my eyes and pray. When I find my mind wandering, which is almost ALL the time, I pray right then "Lord, help me focus my mind on You and not on all these distractions." He hears and He quiets my mind. I find that I can easily spend 15 minutes in focused prayer and meditation this way. Sometimes I even can spend 20-25 minutes this way, but not too often. I find that God speaks to me sometimes during my prayer time, but more often afterwards. Sometimes as I crawl in to bed, a hymn will spring into my mind. Or as I am drifting off to sleep, an answer to one of my prayer requests will enter my thoughts.

    I hope some of my experiences help others to be more comfortable in finding their quiet time.


  8. I'll admit I often have a hard time sitting still and focusing on God in that time I've set aside to do just that. I once heard a Pastor say if things are popping into your head while you are trying to pray, maybe that's what you should be praying about! I liked that thought and it often has helped me redirect my attentions. However, I still struggle with the focus sometimes...thank you for the suggestions Rachel, I'm sure I'll try them.

    Hope you had a lovely weekend at the retreat and were able to squeeze in something pampering and fun. Hold onto that memory for the next time you are lying in a bunk bed wondering if that is something crawling on your leg or just an itch!!

  9. My quiet time has been such a blessing. I am a Quaker and we have Open Worship which is waiting on the Lord to speak and then share what the Lord has directed to us. there are a few days when nothing is spoken. I have used a picture to help focus.

    at home, when I first started quiet time, (I have cats) they would try to bother me, I had a discussion with them that I would cuddle them only after my time with the Lord. I prayed that my cats would go find something else to do in the name of Jesus. They will sit outside my door and wait. It is so funny to see; how when you want to spend time, and put Satan in check, how God works out that "me and him" time: if you REALLY want, that time with him.

    I started out a hour before the days events, put my coffee on, walk the dog, feed the cats and then its time with God. Now it is an hour and a half and I don't mind at all. Soon it will be two. I pray with my coffee cup and pen or typewriter. It is very hard to pray when your stomach is growling or you have to use the restroom. Do those things first and then your time with Him won't be interrupted. God bless your time with him!

  10. Rachel,

    I felt so guilty about not posting a recipe on Zoe's blog. Now there is one there. You would be welcome to my house any time for dinner. Come to VA much?
    I will be at She Speaks and I deliver
    tee hee

  11. Rachel, I just read a book on Praying in Color, it is a quick read about doodling when you pray, putting the person you are praying for in the center of a shape and coloring while you concentrate on them, by drawing flowers or other shapes. You can also add words like healing, calm, etc. I found this is also helpful to me when I just don't know what to pray, like my friends daughter who is 22 and has stage 3 ovarian cancer, when I want to shout and cry and hope, and comfort.

  12. Waaaaayyy cool idea, that
    "praying in color" thing is! Thanks for sharing that.

    I like how it connects words with pictures with emotions. I plan to try it. Furthermore, how great it would be to give your completed picture to the person you were praying for. They'd have a tangible form of your prayers for them! I'm not much of an artist, but this idea really intrigues me.

  13. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing. The Lord keeps speaking to me about being still and He used your words from God to bless me and encourage me.

    Thank you!

    Nice to meet you and I pray that you have a wonderful Monday. : )



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