A serene image of a solitary figure sitting by a calm lake, surrounded by nature's beauty, capturing the essence of "be still" as taught in the Bible.

What Does “Be Still” Mean In The Bible?

The phrase “be still” appears several times throughout the Bible. At its core, it is an invitation from God for us to stop striving, surrender our anxieties and fears, and rest in His presence.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In the Bible, “be still” means to actively calm ourselves through prayer and reflection so that we can hear God’s voice and experience His peace.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the meaning of “be still” by looking at the original Hebrew and Greek words used in Scripture. We’ll study key Bible passages and gain insight into how God intends for us to apply “be still” in our daily walk with Him.

The Hebrew Word “Râphâh”

“Cease Striving” in Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.” The Hebrew word translated as “be still” is râphâh, which literally means “to let go” or “release.” It conveys the sense of releasing one’s grip or ceasing striving. Thus, the verse encourages us to stop struggling or fighting and instead trust God.

By being still, we can know the LORD as our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). We acknowledge Him as the supreme sovereign over all earthly powers and natural forces.

This stillness is not mere inactivity but rather resting in God’s capable hands. It aligns our hearts to His good purposes instead of anxiously chasing our own agenda. As we surrender our grip on situations beyond our control, His peace comes to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).

We can confidently cling to His faithful promises rather than relying on our own limited strength and understanding.

Being Still and Knowing God in Psalm 37

Psalm 37 likewise connects being still before the LORD with knowing Him intimately. Verse 7 encourages, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…do not fret.” This still, patient trust allows us to see and delight in God’s faithful love and salvation at work (Psalm 37:34).

Though the wicked seem to prosper temporarily, ultimately “the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity” (Psalm 37:11, NIV).

How do we cultivate such confident stillness? Psalm 37 points us to regular Scripture meditation (v. 31), prayer (v. 5), avoiding anger (v. 8), and doing good (v. 3). As we fix our eyes on the LORD through these practices, earthly troubles grow strangely dim.

His peace and eternal perspective take the place of worrying and frustration. We can be still, knowing the faithful God of Psalm 46 will tenderly lead the humble and contrite of heart.

So whether amid chaos or calm, God’s word urges, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Cease striving, cling to His promises, and experience intimate fellowship with the LORD Almighty. His love calms every storm within and without.

The Greek Word “Scholazō”

The Greek word translated as “be still” in Mark 4:39 is scholazō. This word has meanings of “ceasing from labor and exertion” and “keeping quiet.” In this Bible passage, Jesus speaks this phrase to the wind and waves during a furious storm, and the tempest immediately calms.

This shows scholazō as an active choice and not merely passively waiting. The surrounding disciples are amazed at how Jesus commands the forces of nature and they obey Him.

“Be Still” as an Active Choice in Mark 4:39

Though scholazō means ceasing from effort and keeping quiet, Jesus uses it as a command, making it an active choice to calm the stormy sea. The wind and waves “cease striving” at His powerful word (NASB). Rather than waiting passively, they respond decisively to obey their Creator.

Just as Jesus chose to act in commanding the tempest to scholazō, we also make an active decision to “be still” before God. Whether halting harmful activities or resting from labor, it is a choice to quiet ourselves and focus on the Lord.

This kind of active stillness creates space to experience God’s presence and power. By ceasing striving, we can hear God’s voice more clearly. As we rest from our own works, we make room for His works in and through us.

Though being still, in its passive sense, is resting in the Lord’s presence, Jesus shows us it can also entail decisive acts like stopping harmful behavior and focusing on God. This active choice prepares us to receive all the Lord has for us, just as the disciples witnessed Jesus’ authority by choosing to scholazō the storm.

The Peace of God Which Passes Understanding

The kind of supernatural calm and quiet Jesus creates with just a word reflects the “peace of God, which surpasses comprehension” in Philippians 4:7 (NASB). This peace guards believers’ hearts and minds as we actively focus on Christ rather than giving in to anxiety.

By ceasing from worry and effort in trying to control everything, we make room for God’s peace and presence to fill us.

This peace is God’s gift to those who intentionally and actively pursue it through practices like prayer and fixing our minds on His truth and praiseworthy things (Philippians 4:8). As we do this, the Lord’s “incomprehensible peace” defends and reigns over our hearts.

Even amidst turmoil, we can experience calm and comfort as we look to Him. Whatever “storm” we may be going through, we can find rest and hope through the peace of God as we make the active choice to “be still” before Him.

Applying “Be Still” Through Prayer and Meditation

Following Jesus’ Example of Solitude and Silence

Jesus himself frequently withdrew to desolate places to pray and commune with God the Father (Luke 5:16). Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus rising early in the morning or going out late at night to pray in solitude (Mark 1:35).

He even spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness before starting his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-2).

Jesus knew the importance of stilling his soul before God in silence and solitude. When he ministered to the crowds, he was revitalized through his quiet times of prayer. If the very Son of God needed to “be still” before the Father, how much more do we need it as well?

Following Jesus’ model, we too can find lonely places to intentionally disconnect from the noise and be alone with God. This may be going on a prayer walk outside, waking up earlier to sit in quiet meditation, or even designating a special “prayer chair” in our home.

Through stillness and solitude before God, we center our distracted minds and refresh our souls.

Stilling Our Minds to Hear God’s Voice

Being still before God requires quieting our noisy thoughts. Our minds can often be flooded with mental chatter and endless to-do lists. When we intentionally push these aside, we make space to hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says God speaks to Elijah not through loud wind, an earthquake, or fire, but through a quiet whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12). We can practice listening prayer or meditation on Scripture to tune our spiritual ears to the whisper of God’s voice.

As we learn to still our inner monologue, we become attuned to the Spirit’s subtle nudges in our soul.

Hearing from God may not be an audible voice, but an impression in our spirit. It could come as a verse that stands out on the page, a positive thought that counters our worries, or a compelling sense we should act a certain way.

As we still our minds through prayer and meditation, we grow more receptive to the Spirit’s leading in our everyday life.

Being still before God takes practice, but even starting with a few minutes can help anchor our chaotic schedules. As Dallas Willard wrote, “We must withdraw into silence to become in the deepest sense who we already are in him.”

When we carve out those quiet spaces of solitude, we can connect with God in a profound way that ripples through the rest of our busy day.

The Blessings of Being Still Before God

Experiencing God’s Presence and Peace

When we purposefully become still before God, we open ourselves up to truly experiencing His presence and peace in our lives (Psalm 46:10). This stillness allows us to quiet our minds and focus our attention on God, rather than all the distractions and noise around us.

As we wait patiently in God’s presence, we can feel His love and enjoyment of us as His children. His peace, which “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), can guard our hearts and minds. Being still is about resting in the knowledge that God is in control, allowing us to relinquish our anxieties to Him (Psalm 37:7).

For example, one study found that spending just 10 minutes a day being still and meditating on Scripture reduced stress levels by up to 31%[1]. As we fix our eyes on Jesus through Biblical meditation and prayer, the peace of God can reign in our hearts no matter what storms rage around us.

Being still and knowing God intimately allows us to tap into supernatural peace and comfort.

Receiving Renewal and Guidance

times of intentional stillness and solitude before God also position us to receive renewal, refreshed vision, and clear guidance from Him. When our schedules are packed, we can easily operate out of our own limited wisdom and strength.

However, as we pull away from the busyness and tune our ears to God’s voice, He can renew us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically (Isaiah 40:31).

In our stillness, God may bring new promises from Scripture to mind, revive dreams long forgotten, or reveal any ways we might have wandered from the path He has for us. For example, both Jesus and Paul withdrew from crowds and spent intentional time alone with God before making major decisions (Luke 6:12, Galatians 1:15-17).

As we quiet ourselves before God, we make space to hear fresh guidance and insight from Him.

Truly, there are so many blessings that God desires us to experience as we build stillness with Him into our days! We can know the presence and peace of God even amidst chaos, be renewed and refreshed, and also gain wisdom for the journey ahead.

Delighting yourself in the Lord through times of intentional stillness is always worthwhile (Psalm 37:4).

Be Still and Know

The phrase “be still and know that I am God” comes from Psalm 46:10 in the Bible. It is a call to quiet our minds and rest in God’s presence. In a world filled with busyness, anxiety, and noise, these words remind us of the importance of stillness before God.

But what does it really mean to “be still”? Here are some key points about the meaning behind this important verse:

Ceasing from Anxiety and Striving

“Be still” is a call to stop worrying, planning, and hurrying. It’s an invitation to pause, slow down, and trust God rather than trying to control everything ourselves. Being still means laying aside our endless “to do” lists and frantic pace so we can quiet our minds in God’s presence.

Silencing the Outside Voices

Our lives are filled with many voices -social media, news, work obligations, other’s expectations. “Be still” means ignoring all the outside voices so we can hear from God. It’s stepping back from the noise and distractions to listen to His voice above all others.

Only in stillness can we discern the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit (1 Kings 19:12).

Total Dependence on God

When we strive to accomplish things in our own strength, we don’t leave room for God to work. “Be still” means laying down our need for control and independence in order to rely fully on Him. It’s an affirmation that God is powerful and capable while we are limited in strength.

Being still is admitting our helplessness apart from Him.

Resting in His Presence

“Be still” is an invitation not to offer up requests, but simply to rest in the presence of God. It’s laying aside the facade of productivity to sit quietly with Him, delighting in His nearness. There is a sacredness to stillness before God that renews our souls in ways busyness never can.

Even a short time of solitude with Him reorients our hearts to what matters most.

Waiting Patiently for God to Move

Rather than rushing ahead in our own wisdom, “be still” means waiting patiently for God to speak and move. It’s resisting the temptation to forge ahead into uncertain waters, instead allowing Him to direct our steps in His perfect timing.

Even when God seems silent, being still means trusting His faithfulness and relying fully on His power.

The command to “be still” reminds us of God’s magnificence and our humanity. It’s only when we silence all the distractions and lay down our need for control that we can fully know Him as Lord of all. Stillness may seem countercultural, but it’s here that we receive rest for our souls and align our hearts with His.


As we have seen, the charge to “be still” in Scripture goes far beyond physical quietness. God desires for us to actively still our striving, worries and inner noise so that we can fully know Him. When we answer His gentle call to “be still,” we open ourselves up to encounter His overcoming peace, comforting presence, and life-giving voice.

May the promise of Psalm 46:10 inspire us today: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

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