Though the word "still" is rarely used in the scriptures, the concept is indispensable for preparing ourselves to hear and feel the spirit. It is also key to understanding the principal way the Lord communicates with us.
"Still" comes from the root "to be quiet" or "to put in place or to stand." The Hebrew word for "still" means "to rest; to cease; to wait with silent expectation and submission." (Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "still" as motionless; not moving from one place; stationary; remaining in the same position or attitude; abstaining from action. "Still" also means silent; quiet; free from commotion; gentle in disposition; meek; calm; settled; unperturbed in mind. With respect to water (as in "He leadeth me beside the still waters"): having an unruffled surface, without waves or violent current; motionless or flowing imperceptibly.
The word "still" is used in scripture and in the teachings of the brethren in two contexts.
First is the commandment for us to be still in order to be able to feel, hear and understand the voice of the Lord. By being still, we are, in effect, in our closets free of noise, unburdened by restlessness and thereby open to divine communication. (See Psalms 4:4)
The second context is how God communicates with us. While he is unrestricted in how that communication can come, in fact, most typically, he speaks to us through a still, small voice. Thus, when Elijah was commanded to stand upon the mount before the Lord, the Lord was not in the great, strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire but came as a "still small voice." (1 Kings 19:11-12)
Notwithstanding that it is a still small voice, if our hearts are prepared through stillness, that voice "whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often it maketh my bones to quake." (D&C 85:6)
Sometimes it seems all of nature conspires against this stillness. There is too much noise in our lives. There is the decibel-type noise of iPods, TVs and radios in our cars. It is almost as though we consciously or subconsciously seek noise and disquiet.
Of course, there is also the spiritual disquietude of sin. If we are not careful, we can become like Nephi's brothers. Even though they had been spoken to "in a still small voice," they "were past feeling" and could not "feel his words." (1 Nephi 17:45)Still must meet still for that deep communication to be felt in our beings.
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News. E-mail: email@example.com