One of the most powerful directives in the scriptures can be found in the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
". . . Be still and know that I am God." (D&C 101:16.)The word still, according to Webster's dictionary, means "to become motionless or silent: quiet." How appropriate it is for us to be still when experiencing the things of God.
That message was forcefully given by Moses to the children of Israel after they were freed by the Egyptians, who later hardened their hearts and pursued after the Israelites with horses and chariots. A frightening time, indeed! The scriptures tell us the children of Israel, who had been in bondage for 430 years, were "sore afraid" and complained to Moses that he had taken them away "to die in the wilderness."
"Stand still," Moses commanded as he told his people to fear not, "and see the salvation of the Lord, which he shall shew to you. . . ." (Ex. 14:13.)
Undoubtedly, we will not have such a dramatic happening in our lives. But when we are still and quiet, we put ourselves in a position to receive answers to our prayers, inspiration in our lives and peace to our souls. We are more receptive to the things of the Spirit, thereby enabling us to grow closer to the Lord.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, when he was a counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in the April 1983 general conference of the feeling of peace that had come to him during a quiet moment in prayer.
"Recently," he said, "while wrestling in my mind with a problem I thought to be of serious consequence I went to my knees in prayer. There came into my mind a feeling of peace and the words of the Lord,
Be still and know that I am God.' I turned to the scripture and read this reassuring statement spoken to the Prophet Joseph Smith 150 years ago:Let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.' " (D&C 101:16.)
We, too, can experience that feeling of peace through our own prayers if we just take the time, quietly and reverently, to listen for answers.
When that happens, the Spirit has a chance to touch lives.
Such was the case some years ago, when the cast of the Hill Cumorah Pageant listened with rapt attention to President Harold B. Lee during a special sacrament meeting for cast members in Rochester, N.Y. President Lee spoke on the meaning of the sacrament and the renewal of one's covenants at the time of the partaking of the sacrament. It was a powerful, moving address.
After President Lee finished his speech and was leaving the chapel, cast members respectfully stood, many with bowed heads and closed eyes, and quietly, reverently began humming the tune "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."
When the cast finished humming all verses of the hymn, there were few dry eyes among cast members. Many were crying openly. It was a moment that few in the congregation will ever forget – a moment that came in a quiet stillness that invited the Spirit to come in. (See Church News, Aug. 4, 1973, p. 3.)
"Be still and know that I am God," the Prophet Joseph Smith was told by the Lord more than a century and a half ago. And because the Prophet complied, he became a mighty instrument in the hands of the Lord and opened the doors, closed for many centuries, of the gospel, enabling the Restoration to be ushered in.
"Be still and know that I am God" is such sound counsel for us, as well. In this day and age when we hear so many loud voices attempting to entice us onto paths that could lead us to destruction, it is important that we take time for quiet reflection, and feel the inspiration of the Lord that comes to us – not in a "great and strong wind," nor in an earthquake, nor in a fire, but in a still, small voice. (See 1 Kings 19:11-12.)
Is not the characteristic of having a quietness about us in matters of the Lord included in the attribute of being submissive to the will of God? In being submissive, do we not listen in stillness to what the Lord would have us do?
Perhaps there is no place on earth that we can do that more than in a holy temple of God. The 53rd such sacred temple in the Church was dedicated this past week in Monticello, Utah. In the temples, away from the din of the outside world, we can seek to know the mind of the Lord that He may instruct us. (See I Cor. 2:16.) There, in the quiet stillness of a sacred edifice, we can draw close to God.