I was recently given a book with a very odd title: Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, by Tyler Staton. Mr. Staton is the lead pastor of a church in Oregon and the national director of the the 24-7 Prayer Movement in the United States. The book cover tells me that it will “open or reopen the lines of communication with your Creator,” and will show you how to “practice multiple positions of prayer, including silence, persistence, confession, and more. I want to share with you for this Sabbath message the first of the monks’ prayer postures—“Be still and know.”
Mr. Staton begins the second chapter reminding us of how truly difficult it is to “be still,” compared to the days before the invention of the clock, the light bulb, and the I-phone. For example, a 2019 survey found the average I-phone user was staring at his phone screen for over five hours each day! He includes an anecdote about the Christian philosopher, Dallas Willard, who was asked, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?” After a long pause he answered, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life!” So if hurry, along with “busyness and overload,” crowds God out of many Christians’ lives, learning to “be still” is a good antidote.
For being still, Mr. Staton suggests that his readers try this method, and perhaps you would like to try it sometime this Sabbath day!
- First, create a daily ritual. Choose an ordinary quiet place like your favorite chair in your bedroom.
- Second, sit straight up with your two feet planted firmly on the floor.
- Third, lay your hands in your lap, palms open, facing up.
- Fourth, close your eyes and breathe in deeply and slowly three times.
- Fifth, pray something simple and invitational like “Here I am Lord” or “Come, Holy Spirit.”
- Sixth, be quiet. Be still. Wait!
- Seventh, set a goal of at least two minutes before you open your eyes. Gradually work this up over a period of weeks to ten minutes.
When I tried this, I kept repeating to myself, “Be still and know that I am God” to keep out distracting thoughts. Finally, I decided it had been a good five minutes and opened my eyes. When I looked at my watch, it had only been two and a half minutes!
God help us all to learn to “Be still” in this hurried, frantic world of instant gratification. The Sabbath is a great time to practice this!