The Holy Spirit is moving in the earth today and God is inviting His people to pursue Him like never before. Our Heavenly Father desires communion with His children. He desires for believers to come into a place of intimacy with Him through prayer, worship and meditation. As the psalmist declares,
This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face… (Ps. 24:6a, NASB)
King David was a man after God’s heart and he longed for the presence of the Lord. He wrote of this desire for more of God:
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11, NLT)
Soaking prayer is about experiencing intimacy with God. Through this kind of contemplative prayer, we set apart regular time exclusively to spend with our Heavenly Father. Intimacy with God begins when we diligently pursue Him with our whole heart.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, God’s deepest desire has been to restore fellowship with mankind. Over the centuries, those whose hearts were tender toward God have cried out to Him, “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel.”
This desperate cry to know the Father did not go unheard, for God revealed Himself, first through the prophets of the Old Testament. Then when the fullness of time had come, the Son of God took on the form of man and came to live among His creation. Jesus told his disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection opened the door for renewed relationship with the Father for all mankind. Now there is no more separation between God and man because of sin. The Bible tells us,
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV)
After Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within believers. So today we can have God’s presence on the inside of us, and access to His throne through worship and prayer at all times.
Intimacy in the Presence of God
Yet so many times when we come before the Lord in prayer we do so with our list of things that we want or need. Often we are the ones doing all the talking. But God wants to have communion with us, which is a two-way conversation.
“There must be time for Him, just to love Him and to have Him love us,” says Carol Arnott, “no other agendas, no shopping list or prayer requests. “We need to put loving Him first, because only as we are filled with His love do we have love to give away.”
“One of my pet peeves is seeing the way some people react when God’s presence comes strongly in a meeting. It is as though they can’t seem to stay and rest in that presence. They receive prayer and within five to ten minutes, they are on their way. God wants so much more than a five-minute fling.”
The Bible says “We have not because we ask not.” So asking is not a bad thing; it’s Scriptural. But there is much more to prayer than just asking.
Jesus taught his disciples to, “keep on asking, and you will receive…” But we often forget the next part of that passage where Jesus also said “keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9, NLT)
We understand the ‘asking’ part of this portion of Scripture. So what are we to be ‘seeking’, and what is on the other side of the door on which we are ‘knocking’?
David gives us the answer to this question when he declares,
When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek.’ (Psalm 27:8, NKJV)
When we seek the Lord through soaking prayer, we are asking for the Holy Spirit to come and manifest His presence to us. Jesus taught that we can and should ask for the Holy Spirit to be a reality in our lives:
If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:11-13, NKJV, italics added)
When we are born again, the Holy Spirit comes and lives on the inside of us. However, we can also ask for an experiential manifestation of His holy presence in prayer. When we ask for the Holy Spirit, we receive the Holy Spirit!
Prayer is the key. Intimacy comes from relationship. One of the best ways to have intimacy with God is to spend quality time soaking in His presence.
Isaiah 64:4 says God “…acts for the one who waits for Him.” The Amplified version states, “God … who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who earnestly waits for Him.” In other words, God is waiting on us to wait on Him.
Mary and Martha: Finding the ‘One Thing’
Many times Christians struggle between the ‘Mary’ side of our devotion to God and the ‘Martha’ side of wanting to do the will of the Lord.
The Bible tells us what happened when Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha.
Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! (Luke 10:39-41, NLT)
Like Martha, we often feel like we should be ‘doing’ something for God. We want to be obedient to the call of God on our lives and to fulfill His destiny in our generation — and that’s a good thing. But like Martha, we often get caught up in the busyness of serving Jesus.
But Mary got caught up in loving Him.
Soaking prayer opens the door for us to get caught up in loving Jesus, just as Mary did. It is not about how much we can accomplish in prayer by our own efforts. It’s about making God the first place in our lives and enjoying our relationship with Him.
Jesus praised Mary for her devotion to Him.
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42, NLT, italics added)
So what was the one thing that Mary understood? King David gives us this revelation:
The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. (Psalm 27:4, NLT, italics added)
Soaking prayer is time set aside for dedication to the Lord and to declare to Him that “You are my one thing.” It is a promise to God that “this time is set aside just for you.” Soaking prayer is an invitation to the Father, declaring “God, do what you want to in me. Here I am. I am yours, and you are mine.”
Jim Goll explains, “Contemplative prayer immerses us into the silence of God and helps us let go of control of our own life that leans on the props of this world for fulfillment. It is communion with God that increases our awareness of His presence. As we become more aware of His presence we are more willing to submit to the Holy Spirit’s cleansing work of purification bringing us to a place of surrender.” 1
Soaking Prayer Through the Centuries?
Over the centuries, one of the key ways that believers have sought to know God in a more intimate way was through this kind of contemplative prayer. In recent years this practice has come to be known as ‘Soaking Prayer’.
According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, the word ‘contemplate’ means, “To view or consider with continued attention. To meditate on.” The word ‘meditate’ means, “A definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply.”
Soaking prayer is often referred to as an inward journey in the Spirit. In simple terms, it’s just ‘hanging out’ with Jesus, and letting Him do whatever He wants to do in our lives.
In previous revivals believers referred to this intimate communion with God as ‘waiting on the Lord,’ or ‘tarrying’ as they lingered in prayer, expecting God’s revival blessings. Although ‘soaking’ includes waiting on the Lord, in this present move of the Spirit it means much more than that. To ‘soak’ in God’s presence is to rest in His love rather than to ‘strive’ in prayer.
Regarding contemplative or ‘soaking’ prayer, Andrew Murray wrote, “Here is the secret of a life of prayer. Take time in the inner chamber to bow down and worship; and wait on Him until He unveils Himself, and takes possession of you, and goes out with you to show how a man can live and walk in abiding fellowship with an unseen Lord.” 2
Bible reading and prayer are not enough to fulfill the longing in our soul for intimacy with God. Through soaking prayer we can take time alone with the Father, not asking for anything, but merely enjoying more of Him.
But soaking prayer is nothing new. In a Seventeenth Century monastery, a cook named Brother Lawrence gave his life to the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” He learned to cultivate the deep presence of God so thoroughly in his own heart that he was able to joyfully proclaim, “I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart.” 3
As we rest expectantly in prayer, the Holy Spirit will often hover over us to reveal more of God’s love or to renew and repair areas of brokenness in our lives. As the believer soaks in God’s presence, the Lord takes control and begins to draw his or her attention to God’s will in their lives. This could be through a revelation of Scripture, or through impressions or pictures that God will show them.
John Arnott compares soaking prayer to the process of making pickles. “I found a classical Greek word study on the words ‘bapto’, meaning ‘to dip’, and ‘baptidzo’, meaning to immerse. … The recipe called for the raw fruit to be dipped in boiling water to blanch or sterilize the cucumber, using the word ‘bapto’, which means, ‘to dip in and out quickly’. Then it called for the cucumber to be immersed, using the word ‘baptidzo’, and soaked in the brine and the pickling solution for several weeks. What happens during this soaking time is that the marinade or the pickling solution soaks deep into the flesh of the cucumber until it takes on the flavor of the pickling solution so that it no longer tastes like a raw cucumber.”
“This is what we mean by soaking,” Arnott explains. “May you be so marinated in the presence of the Holy Spirit, soaking in the River of God, that you no longer ‘taste’ like your old, raw nature, but you have taken on the flavor of the Holy Spirit. ‘Pickle us Lord, in the marinade of the Holy Spirit. Soak us in your wonderful presence until we become more and more like you.'”