"Be Still" Invites Viewers to Discover Contemplative Prayer
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2006 7 Apr
Do you find it hard to connect with God in the midst of our frenzied world?
People use technology like cell phones, e-mail, and pagers to clamor for your attention, and media assault your senses with information overload. A packed schedule places constant demands on you as you try to fit too many activities into too little time. No wonder it’s often challenging to heed God’s call in Psalms 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Now a new DVD, "Be Still," aims to help you discover the time-honored practice of contemplative prayer. A myriad of Christian authors, speakers, and ministers discuss turning off the world’s voices so you can tune into God’s voice. Through silent reflection on Scripture verses, they say, you can discover a fresh message from God that will bring you peace when you’re troubled and passion when you’re fatigued.
"Be Still" creator Amy Reinhold wanted to pursue the project with her husband Judge (who narrates the film) after they experienced the power of contemplative prayer in their small group Bible study. “My husband and I wanted to find a way to introduce others in the modern church to this beautiful early church practice,” she says. “We wanted people to know that you don’t have to be a super scholar or saint to experience this type of listening prayer and intimacy with God.”
In contemplative prayer, the focus is on listening to God instead of talking to Him. Rather than presenting God with a list of requests of what you want Him to do for you, you simply seek to know more about God Himself.
“I like to think of it as any good relationship,” Reinhold says. “Imagine if you went to spend time with one of your favorite people, and they handed you their grocery list and said they had to go, but they had a really great time with you and would come back to pick up everything from you later … or if you called a close friend to share something very intimate, and that person simply talked for a while and then hung up before you said a word. God yearns for an intimate relationship with us. I think if we truly want to know God, we will seek Him, and as we start to experience His presence, we will crave more of Him in every area of our lives.”
You might protest that you don’t have time for contemplative prayer. But "Be Still" emphasizes that the practice isn’t a frivolous escape from the world, but an essential part of a busy person’s life, because it helps order your priorities, gives you strength for each day, and can even lower your blood pressure and improve your breathing. “If we never make the time to do this, we will continue to carry more and more of the weight of the world every day,” Reinhold says.
Making time for contemplative prayer is simple to do, she says. “Make an appointment to spend a little time with God each day. Don’t place an expectation on yourself that isn’t practical, or you will never stick to it. Look for times to stop and grab ‘be still’ moments. One of my favorite times is when I pull into the driveway after being out in traffic or running errands. There is a perfect silence just as I turn the car off and the door is still closed. Sometimes I will sit in the driveway with the Lord for five or 10 minutes before I go into the house. We have these moments all throughout our day, but if we don’t make time to learn to recognize them, we won’t notice them and will miss God’s little gifts of silence and peace.”
You can engage in contemplative prayer anywhere at any time, either by yourself or with others. Essentially, "Be Still" mentions, you become a portable sanctuary as you do. The DVD includes practical tips from Dr. Henry Cloud on how to start the practice – including choosing a consistent time and place for it, so it becomes a regular part of your life.
The modern Christian leaders interviewed on "Be Still" also discuss some Christians throughout history – such as Francis of Assisi, C.S. Lewis, Evelyn Underhill, Madame Guyon, and Brother Lawrence – whose practice of contemplative prayer inspires them.
“The thing that struck me was thinking of these historical figures as real people, really struggling with how to live a life pleasing to God,” says Reinhold. “It’s easy to think of people who spend time listening to God as spiritually elite, or people who are ‘holier than me’, but God wants to speak to everyone who would seek Him, not just those who live a seemingly perfect spiritual life.”
"Be Still" emphasizes how the timeless truths of Scripture come alive in fresh ways when you meditate on them through contemplative prayer. In fact, Reinhold says, contemplative prayer is a valuable way to increase your appetite for God’s Word.
“One of the things we are constantly running into is people wishing they would spend more time studying the Bible. This is a way they can take the pressure off by just taking a passage and spending time with it. God’s Word will not return to Him void. Even if we nibble, it will fill us. But if we don’t ever take a bite, we will starve spiritually. We wanted to do this project to provide a way to experience Scripture in a fresh way, without having a list of things you had to study and do. All you have to do is read and listen. God will do the rest.”
Besides the interviews and practical tips it offers, "Be Still" also features contemporary Christian music artist Ginny Owens performing her song “Be Still,” some Scripture verses to use for contemplative prayer and Web links to www.foxfaith.com and www.bestillprayer.com.
Reinhold hopes viewers will fall in love with contemplative prayer, and in the process, fall more in love with God. The first time she and others in her small group tried it, she says, “It was such an authentic experience. I know each of us carried the peace and intimacy we experienced with us for days.”
Featuring interviews with Dr. Henry Cloud, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Dallas Willard and more, "Be Still" releases on DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Tuesday, April 4, 2006. Click here for more information.