A Guide To Intercessory Prayer
by Rev. Richard W. LaFountain

Step One: "Be Still"
"Be still and know that I am thy God..." Psalm 46:10

Without a doubt the most difficult step in intercessory prayer is this one – keep silence, be still. Learn this step and you will transform your prayer life. Remember your mind is like an undisciplined child running constantly and refusing to be dominated. It wants it own way. It is like a wild stallion that does not want to be tamed, bridled and or ruled. It wanders wherever it wishes. It clamors for its own way. It speeds ahead to its own agenda. It refuses to be brought under control. But God says it must be bridled. Peter urges us to "gird up the loins of your mind." (1 Peter 1:13) Paul says, "Bring every thought into the captivity of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

A Secret
There is a secret that God reveals to his servants that is hidden from all other men. It is the secret of his presence. He delights to walk and talk with us but he will only do so in the "Secret place of the Most High." Therefore David exalts the mystery of that secret retreat with God alone where God shadows over his own with his protective presence. Jesus said that the secret place for believers is the "closet of prayer" in Matthew 6:6. The Greek word translated in KJV is "tameion" which means a closet, secret or inner chamber, or a storehouse – thus "a closet." He is very specific about it. "When you have entered into your "tameion" (secret chamber), shut the door…and pray in secret!" God longs to have that romantic secret chamber of interlude with each of us.

A Command (not a suggestion)
God has given his people express commands governing the turbulence of their own hearts and the peace that he offers and expects. None stands out so markedly as Isaiah 30:15 "In quietness and confidence will be your strength and you would not..." It declares that the Lord's purpose is for his people to return to Him to find quietness and confidence before Him. The indictment was that his people "WOULD NOT," therefore they had no peace.

  1. Psalm 4:4 "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still."
  2. Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am thy God..."
  3. Isaiah 30:15 "In quietness and confidence will be your strength and you would not..."
  4. Isaiah 32:17 "The effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever."
  5. Isaiah 41:1 "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment."
  6. I Kings 19:12 "After the earthquate a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
  7. Ecclesiastes 3:7 "A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;"
  8. Habakkuk 2:20 "But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."
  9. Mark 4:39 "And he arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
  10. Revelation 8:1 "And there was silence in heaven for about the space of a half hour."
It is the mandate of God that we still ourselves before him in order to find his peace and hear his voice. So thus we have as the first and most important step in the believer's prayer life to still ourselves before the Lord.

Priority – "I set the Lord always before me..."
What is first in your life? David testified that he always, meaning every day, "set the Lord before me." (Psalm 16:8) The word used here is the same used in Exodus 20:3 for the command "to have (to place) no other Gods before Him." God is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another. (Exodus 34:14) There is room for only one on the Throne of Omnipotence. Either God, the Lord, is first and supreme and before all others or someone (maybe you?), or something else is first (your agenda, day-timer?) and on the throne. Jesus indicates the same priority theme in Matthew 6:33 when he commands that we "Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will fall in place."

Listen – Hear His Voice
We live in a busy, noisy, tumultuous society. There is noise and constant demands for our attention every waking hour. There may not be any quiet Judean hillsides for us to retreat to daily for prayer. Therefore we must find an inner solitude in the Lord's presence. Elijah, the mighty prevailing intercessor, learned this lesson when in weariness of the battle he fled into the wilderness. God sent first the wind and storm, then the earthquake and finally the fire. But God was not in them. After this there was "a still small voice." God was found, not in the spectacular, but in the stillness.

Quiet Rest
Rest is important to God. The tireless Creator rested the seventh day from all his work. He commands us to do the same on the Lord’s Day. He enforced the year of Jubilee for the land to rest. So too, he wants us to rest in Him. Get this message from Isaiah 40. "The Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint, neither is He weary…" But they that wait on the Lord will renew their strength. God doesn’t need to rest, we do!

Isaiah 40:28-31
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Wait on the Lord
In the age of cell phones, microwaves, satellite TVs, high speed computers, and nano-second processing, we don’t like to wait. But waiting on God is an important biblical principle. Most of us are in a constant frenetic hurry. We don’t like to wait. We don’t have time to wait. Waiting is a waste of time. So we don’t wait and we miss God’s train of blessing. Waiting is part of the blessing of prayer. It requires that we put aside the rush of life and sit still and just wait. The point of prayer is not getting stuff from God. The point of prayer is getting God! Take skiing for example. The thrill of skiing is not in the arrival at the bottom of the hill, but in the joy of getting there – so it is with seeking God. The delight of prayer is not getting the answers, but being in the presence of the One who freely gives us all things.

  • Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
  • Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.
  • Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

One Desire – "Behold His Beauty"
David again is a wonderful example of one who learned about the secret place of stillness before God. He declares, "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after." What is that one thing that consumed his desire? It was to behold the beauty of the Lord, then secondly to inquire in his temple. Beholding God’s beauty begins in the quiet place of stillness. Then it blossoms into worship, the second step of our intercessory prayer strategy. One desire… what is yours?

Songs of Quietness

  • There is a quiet place, far from the noise and pace, where God can soothe the troubled heart. Sheltered by tree and flower, and in that quiet hour, we find a new, new day.
  • In the Garden: I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me and he talks with me. And he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
  • Be Still My Soul: Be still my soul, the Lord is on they side. Bear patiently thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change he faithful will remain.

Try singing these songs quietly, even mentally, to help quiet your heart and mind.

Even Heaven requires silence
Revelation 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

As you attempt to train yourself in these prayer disciplines remember that learning new habits takes time. Don’t try to apply all of the steps at the same time. May I suggest that you discipline yourself in this step of silence only for at least 2 weeks, 10 minutes per day before going on to the next step.

Practical Disciplines

  1. Enter into your secret chamber, your closet. Find a quiet undisturbed place. Once you are alone before God "Shut the door." Block out all distractions but God Himself.

  2. Kneel or lay prostrate in the Lord's presence. (Only under real medical prohibition should you do otherwise. Kneeling or prostrate are worship positions.) You need not be uncomfortable but neither should you be lazy in prayer. Philippians 2:10-11 "every knee shall bow…confessing Jesus as Lord."

  3. Make your mind a sanctuary. Make your mind stop its commotion and noise! Listen to the din of confused voices reminding you of duties, tasks and obligations. Then silence them! Your mind is not a noisy playground. It is a sanctuary. Your mind is yours. Make it obey you.

  4. Slow down! Remember "relax" is the word for "be still" in Hebrew. Consciously loose the tension of every muscle. It won't come naturally so work at learning to be quiet! 1 Thessalonians 4:11 "Study (force yourself) to be quiet."

  5. Set apart a significant amount of time to learn this slowing down process. Give yourself time to slow down. You cannot stop a train on a dime. It takes time to slow down to a stop. You cannot get still in 10 seconds and often it takes more than a 3-minute timer. 10 minutes is a good target, but it might not be long enough. Give God some room to work in you.

  6. Fix your eyes on Jesus - behold the beauty of the Lord. Like the angels in heaven and all creatures before the throne present yourself to God in stillness. Imagine yourself prostrate at his feet before his throne.

  7. Take a few deep breaths. At first take long slow deep breaths. Hold it a few seconds. Let it out slowly. Control it! You'll be amazed at how it begins to quiet your body, which in turn effects thoughts too. Remember, if you cannot control your body, you cannot expect to control you spirit either. 1 Corinthians 9:27 "…I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection..."

  8. Refuse to go on to the next step until the body and mind have obeyed you. If they are not subject to your will, neither will the rest of your thoughts in prayer. If you cannot bring your own body and mind into subjection how will you wrestle with spiritual forces and win? Proverbs 24:10 "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small."

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. – Mark 4:39

Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. No portion of this may be copied, filed, or republished in any form without the express written consent of the author Richard W. LaFountain. It may be used in the church context for prayer training as long as the copyright and web address remains printed thereon.