40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 24

Today, we are on Day 24, and we continue our time focusing on the practice of Solitude.

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 15, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19, Day 20, Day 21, Day 22, Day 23 if you missed them)

Language as a window

I love languages. If I could choose any superpower, I would probably choose the ability to speak and understand all languages. I love learning Biblical Hebrew and Greek words, and seeing how much detail they bring us. There are many words I hold close to my heart that aren’t in my native tongue. I’ve shared how the word hineni impacted me and my relationship with God, and many of you responded the same! Languages give us insight into the people and culture who speak them. 

When I learned Spanish, it didn’t just allow me to communicate. It opened up a window for me into the culture here in Mexico. You can learn a lot about a culture through its language. There are words in Spanish that we don’t have an equivalent word for in English. This is fascinating to me. And there are some words that seem identical, but they aren’t used the same culturally.

Both English and Spanish have words with Latin roots. Both use the word content. In the US, if you hear someone say they are content, it could mean they have all they need. But increasingly, it is used to express when someone didn’t quite get what they wanted. You’re ok. You’re content (but you’re not thrilled, is the likely subtext). When I was first in Mexico, I was perplexed at how often people here said they were very content. Muy contento. I discovered that when someone here uses the word content, they are thrilled, they are saying they are very happy. The difference in how the word is used tells us something about the two cultures. 

Back to Biblical language,

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 46:10-11

This phrase be still and know has stood out to people in the Psalms through the ages. What is the psalmist telling us God wants from us right then? It’s not suffering or sacrifice or even good works, but a twofold instruction from God: to be still and to know.

Because we are millennia removed from the culture and language this was written in, there is treasure to be found in the original language. The word translated be still here is raphah. It can mean to sink, to let drop, to relax, be idle, or let go. It is used in a wide variety of ways in the Bible. The word translated know is also an important one, and we’ll dive into that tomorrow.

There’s a beautiful use of this word in Judges 19:9 that we miss in modern translations. The NIV says plainly, the day is nearly over. In the NKJV, it says the day is drawing toward evening. In Hebrew, the word is raphah , so we could say, the day was relaxing into night. Lovely.

Raphah is also the word used in Exodus 5:17-18, where Pharoah punishes the Hebrew slaves with even more work, as Moses seeks to free them. He accuses them of being too relaxed as to being lazy in their work.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.    Selah

Psalm 46:10-11

The words be still now open up more to us. In light of this word, it seems that the psalmist isn’t just speaking to us of a prayer posture of stillness, but of the internal and external way we are invited to be with God.  Psalm 46 talks about God and His great works. He is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in trouble. Because He dwells with His people, they will not fall. The Almighty is with us. He is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done. Because our God is our strength, we can relax in His presence. God is our refuge. We aren’t relying on our plans or how clever or well-prepared we are.

Relax. You are in the presence of the Great I AM. You are safe in His presence. Your soul, your body, all of you can relax in Him.

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:

We see the beautiful overlapping of Jesus’s practices here: prayer, rest, Scripture, solitude, and silence with Him—rhythms that flow, intersect, and overlap. Think back over our time in this challenge. You’ve come a long way in 24 days! We could spend a month, a year even on each of the practices instead of 5 days, but the seeds you are planting now will continue to grow long after the 40 days have concluded. Look over the notes you’ve made from Day 1 to now and note anything that surprises you. Day by day, the Holy Spirit is at work in you. There might even be perspectives or actions you struggled with that you find a bit easier now!

Action steps:

Yesterday we focused our time with God on receiving the love He has for us. We’ll continue with this today, accepting this posture of rest God invites us to. We receive His love from a posture of rest—not earning, not striving. Let your mind and your body find rest in Him today. If you’ve found writing out Scripture helpful, this is a perfect time to do so.

Pray together:

Father, help us rest in you today. Help us set aside our worries and fears, and remember that you are our refuge. You are our refuge and our strength. We do not need to be strong because you are strong for us. Because you dwell with us, we will not fall. We can rest in your presence. What a gift! Help us experience you this way today. In the name of Jesus we pray together, amen.

♥ Samantha