|"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." - Psalm 4:4 (KJV)
Soaking prayer sprang out of the Toronto revival that gained national attention in the late '90s. The hub of the excitement, the Toronto Airport Church, developed the center and network for the alternative form of worship. Led by Pastors John and Carol Arnott, the Soaking Prayer Network was designed to allow millions to experience God’s love and peace.
Be Still My Soul
By Jennifer E. Jones
Silence is a killer. Take the most confident person in the world, put him or her in a room with no music and no social interaction, and watch the madness slowly set in. We’ve created a world full of noise, because no one truly wants to be quiet.
What is it about silence that makes some of us come undone? Is it the fear that something will pop out and scare us? Is it the unsettling boredom? Or does it force us to face something even scarier?
Just the other night, I came home to find my roommate studying in the living room. I was hungry and decided to make dinner. I sat down across from her on the couch and said, “I’m going to join you. I haven’t had this kind of peace and quiet all day.”
I thought it would be relaxing, but I grew uncomfortable eating my food in silence. I thought, ‘She can hear the mashing of my food inside my mouth. I’m a loud chewer. I know I scraped my fork against my teeth at least twice. I’m probably breathing too loud.’ And just like that, a simple meal had me nervous that my manners and digestion habits were on display. I could barely stand it for five minutes.
Silence takes away all of life’s distractions and leaves us with the one thing that we’re most uneasy about – ourselves. It’s suddenly open season on our flaws and all our neurotic, unattractive behaviors. We like noise. It’s easy to hide in the noise.
Yet, I’m learning that silence is where God seems to do His best work.
For the last few months, I’ve been enjoying a weekly night of prayer at a local church. If you were to drive up on any given Tuesday night, you’d see people walking into the building with Bibles, pillows, and blankets. As you follow them inside, you’ll see the sanctuary dimmed down to its lowest light, soft music playing all throughout, and people scattered on the floor. Some are kneeling at the altar. Some are walking and praying quietly. Others are lying down on the seats. The peace is so thick in the air that you could cut it with a knife… but you wouldn’t want to.
I remember the first time I walked in. I saw people looking so calm that I thought they were sleeping. ‘Who comes here to sleep,’ I pondered. God said, ‘Be kind. For some of these, this is the best rest they’ll get all week.’
They call it “soaking prayer.” It is the act of being silent before the Lord and simply waiting on His manifest presence. Some participants lie down, sit up, or stand, but the posture of the heart and mind is still. It is at times accompanied with soft worship music or done in complete silence. However it is done, it draws the believer into a more intimate fellowship with God.
It sounds easy. Just sit there in the presence of God, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can be. The first few times I went, it took forever for my mind to stop thinking. I would lie there for 30 minutes just thinking over my day, where I’ll go for coffee afterwards, what I have to do at work the next day, who I’m still not speaking to and why. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m constantly going, going, going in my head. The simple request to “relax” isn’t in my vocabulary.
Then there's the act of being still. I couldn’t just lie there. I had to fight the urge to get up, walk around and pray for peace in the Middle East or the end of world hunger. But God repeated one phrase to me until I got it in my head: “Rest in me.”
“Be still and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10 KJV]
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” [Psalms 130:5 NIV]
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." [Exodus 14:14 NIV]
These are the kinds of verses He would bring to my mind. They are also the verses that busy-bodies and performance-based, approval-seekers wrestle with. “Lord, I have to be doing something. I can’t just sit still and let You speak to me and bless me and love me. I must be actively working for your grace. That’s how it works, right?”
There is nothing further from the truth.
It took months for me to learn how to be still. Yet while I was there -- at times feeling lazy and unproductive -- God was working on me. Pretty soon, I noticed changes in my behavior. Thought patterns shifted. My stubborn streak started to yield to authority. I was no longer obsessing over being “tragically” single. Burdens that I had carried for years seemed to lift off easily. Most importantly, it drew me closer to Him to the point where I almost effortlessly call on the Lord and He is there.
So I ask you, where are you finding your rest today? Is it in your Blackberry scheduling? Is it in ABC dramas like Grey’s Anatomy? Is it in your constant need to have people and noise surrounding you at all times?
Don’t hide from the silence. It is under the cloak of quietness that God reveals His truest nature. And it is there that your rescue is coming.
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