One of the most popular modern hymns, "Be Still For the Presence of the Lord" has some important spiritual lessons that you can start applying today.
In 2019, “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord” was voted one of the most popular hymns in the UK, and for a good reason. While the message is profound, the lyrics and melody are simple, inviting worshippers in both contemporary and traditional settings to join in and sing.
Who Wrote 'Be Still for the Presence of the Lord'?
“Be Still for the Presence of the Lord” was written in one hour by British composer Dr. David Evans during a quiet time with God. The basis of the song was birthed from a longstanding frustration in feeling that contemporary music did not focus enough on the majesty and presence of God. Although he participated in contemporary worship at the time, Dr. Evans desired for the lyrics to hold more theological weight. One example that played a part in the lyrics was his belief that God didn’t need to be called down to come and meet with His people because His presence was already there with them and in them.
Is 'Be Still for the Presence of the Lord' Based on a Bible Verse?
There are several Bible verses with similar wording, such as Psalm 46:10a: Be still and know that I am God, but there is no mention of these verses being used as the basis for the song “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord.” And yet, it is a wondrous truth to ponder.
To be still in the presence of the Lord is to believe that God is who he says he is: Conqueror, Deliverer, Omnipresent, Omniscient, etc. When facing battles that life inevitably brings, we must stand still with courage and confidence that God will bring victory. It’s interesting to note that the act of being still is one of faith and is not passive. To be still in the presence of the Lord is to trust Him completely as we pray, fast, and stay in communion with Him and in biblical community.
What Can We Learn from 'Be Still for the Presence of the Lord'?
The song “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord” is rich with imagery and replete with lessons on worship. Some truths include:
1. To acknowledge that God is here, in our presence, is a key component to worshipping in spirit and truth (John 4:24), for the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer (1 Corinthians 6:19), is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) and leads us into all truth.
2. God is near. In 1 Kings 19:11-14, when God told Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD for He would pass by, I imagine Elijah expected His presence to come in the first great and powerful wind that tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake and then a fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper, the presence of the LORD. Like Elijah on the mountainside, we often expect God’s presence to pound the walls of our church buildings when, in fact, His presence is also discovered in standing still with certainty in our spirit that God is there, whether we sense His presence or not. We stand confident in God’s truth, not our feelings.
3. Various forms of physical posture are used throughout the Bible while praying, such as bowing down (Matthew 2:11), kneeling (1 Kings 8:54), lying prostrate (Genesis 18:1-22), and looking up to God (John 11:41-42). “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord” speaks of bowing, which reflects a heart that reveres God. While scripture doesn’t mention a required posture for prayer, the willingness to do so is a beautiful outward expression of what is moving in the heart.
4. In Christ, there is no sin. He was the perfect sacrifice, freeing us from the penalty and power of sin. (Hebrews 10:12) Because of this, we have the reason and ability to worship before the Lord.
5. Rehearsing God’s characteristics in prayer puts the focus on who God is and not necessarily on what God has done for us.& It is a subtle distinction but an important one. While it is good to remember what He has done and continues to do in our lives, God is the subject of worship, not His people.
6. Being still, trusting fully in God’s direction and timing deepens our appreciation for His closeness, His desire to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and His mighty strength.
7. God is always on the move, working behind the scenes in both obvious and mysterious ways. In John 5:17, Jesus said, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”
8. God is worthy of praise. Nothing is too hard, too big, or too small for Him.
Prayers to Be Still for the Presence of the Lord
Below are prayers using some of the above Biblical truths learned from the song “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord”:
1. Lord, I long to worship you in spirit and in truth. Still my worries, fears, and doubts as I stand firm and secure in Your truth. Help me to remain faithful in prayer and sensitive to Your Spirit as I wait and watch for You. In Your strength, I will be still in Your presence. Amen.
2. Heavenly Father, by faith, I believe You are here and near to me. In Romans 8, You tell me that, as Your child, Your Spirit dwells within me. Your presence is here whether I worship You alone or with other believers. Give me discernment when I’m tempted to be swayed by circumstances, what others say, or my feelings. Remind me that the gift of Your nearness is not dependent on who I am but rather Whose I am, and I am Yours. Amen.
3. Lord, I bow before You and humbly ask that You search my heart to see if there is any offensive way in me. Because it is the posture of my heart that matters most, shine Your light into every corner and cleanse every speck of sin so that my heart might be readied with the desire to follow wherever You lead, for You alone are my King, both now and forever. Amen.
4. Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die in my place so that I might receive salvation and have everlasting life. He was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God who chose to endure the cross, bearing its shame, for the sake of the joy that would follow, breaking down every barrier to allow this sinner saved by grace the privilege of fellowshipping with You, Holy God. May the depth of my gratefulness to You and my sinless Savior be seen and heard in everything I do and say today. Be glorified, Lord. Amen.
5. Heavenly Father, I find utter delight in You! When I look up to the heavens, I’m reminded of Your handiwork as it displays Your omniscience, strength, and love for beauty. Nothing escapes Your notice, not one detail. Your Word says You numbered the stars and call them by name. You are majestic, Lord, and I praise You with all my heart, mind, and soul. Amen.
6. Lord, You are always on the move and at work in your children’s lives, both willing and working for Your good pleasure. Rest Your favor on me and the work of my hands as I walk in the ways You prepared for me to do long ago. I welcome Your mercy, grace, and the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin so that I may reflect the love and truth of Jesus Christ more each day. Amen.
7. Mighty God, nothing is too hard, too big, or too small for You! This truth gives me great hope when circumstances loom over me like a dark cloud while also giving me much joy, knowing that because nothing is too insignificant in Your eyes, I can talk with You about anything. You are a good, good Father, and I am forever grateful. Amen.
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Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Kamonwan Wankaew
Cathy Baker is the author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach and Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. She writes from a tiny studio lovingly known as The Tiny House on the Hill in the Foothills of SC. As an author, Hope Writer, and Bible teacher for over twenty-five years, she encourages women to pause and embrace the seemingly small, mundane moments of their day for God’s glory. She invites you to join her in the tiny house where you’re always welcome to come in and take a seat.