Purpose of this Session
Closely associated with the prayer of praise and worship is the prayer of waiting upon God. Like praise and worship there are many layers to this prayer. We will touch upon some of them here, but the real lessons are in practising prayer. When we do it, we understand it, not the other way around.
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17 KJV)
In the busy world we live in we can fail to practise this kind of prayer. We have grown so accustomed to ‘microwave’ results that often we fail to understand that God’s schedule is often less hurried than our own. We get busy with the work of ministry, whether in the church or marketplace, the demands of family life etc, yet fail to stop and listen. We then wonder why we feel so tired?
“But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
(Is 40:31 NKJV)
In this form of prayer we cease from our own works and wait upon God.
John and Carol Arnott of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship rightly point out in their ‘Soaking In God’s Presence’ Guide:
“Jesus says, "Ask and you will receive". We're very good at the asking part but how about the 'receiving'? If we are the ones who are doing all the talking, it's a pretty one-way conversation. Soaking is the listening part of our conversation with Him. It's laying aside time to lie down and receive from Him.”
Jesus made it very clear that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), yet our lifestyles so betray the fact that we much prefer to be doing things for God, rather than simply being with God. We quote again from the Arnott’s:
“Human Beings (not Doings)
At first we may have an internal Mary/Martha struggle. We feel like Martha that we should be "doing" something. But this is Mary time. Martha got caught up in the busyness of serving Jesus. Mary got caught up in Him. Soaking is not about how much we can accomplish by our own efforts. It's about God's action in us. “
To wait upon the Lord is to love Him and give of ourselves to His presence. In Corinthians we find Paul quoting Isaiah. He says:
“But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”” (1Cor 2:9)
The original verse from Isaiah 64:4 says:
“For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Is 64:4 NKJV)
The Amplified Bible translates this:
“For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.” (Is 64:4 AMP)
Sometimes, in order for God to act on our behalf, we need to stop acting and wait.
As we still ourselves before Him and wait in His presence we are filled and prepared for obedience when He does call upon us to act. The purpose of waiting is to be equipped for service. Even the disciples, who had walked for three years with Jesus, and who had enjoyed 40 days of post-resurrection teaching concerning the Kingdom of God, were warned not to try anything until they had tarried (waited) for the infilling of the Holy Spirit which would equip them for the work (Luke 24:49).
The Soaking Leaflet prepared by the Arnotts (whose church has been instrumental in restoring this kind of prayer into the church body) concludes with the following instruction concerning waiting upon God:
One of the main barriers to encountering God is that we are simply trying too hard. God's top tip to us is "just relax". In Psalm 46:10, He put it this way, "Be still and know that I am God". Literally translated this means, "Cease striving and know that I am God". The way to know God is through peace and stillness.
A peaceful environment on the outside helps us to come to peace on the inside. When we soak we simply put on some quiet instrumental or worship music and lie down. At first our minds will be whirring with thoughts, but we don't try and wrestle them. We just wait for them to settle, submitting our mind to the Holy Spirit. Meditating on the fact that the Lord is in our spirits, we believe He is right there with us. If we get distracted we don't become frustrated, we just simply turn our attention back to the Lord.
We have found that lying down is the best posture. It helps us physically relax and focus on the Lord. As we lie down it's a statement to God that we are laying down our agendas. We are surrendering control. We surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit. It may feel foolish and offend our pride. Soaking is an act of humility.
Soaking is a dedication: "God this is time just for you." Soaking is an invitation: "God do what you want in me." Soaking is an expectation: "Thank you Father for what you are accomplishing as I rest in you." We come to Him like little children believing that He has good things for us. "If you then know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him."
Rest and Restoration
Soaking is a Psalm 23 experience. He makes us to lie down in green pastures and He leads us by still waters. He restores our soul. As part of the restoration process we may find ourselves responding physically or emotionally. We might laugh, cry, or shake as the Holy Spirit works in us. The Holy Spirit might give us a vision or bring a memory to mind that He wants to heal. Often we enter into a deep rest, even falling asleep. Even if we don't feel anything happening we believe that the Lord is working in our spirit.
Abide in the Vine
Intimacy with God is the key to fruitfulness in every area of our lives. As we become more aware of His presence in us ... so do other people. As we become more affected by His presence in us ... so do those around us. By taking time in the secret place with God, we start to walk by spirit in everyday life. We find that rather than striving to achieve things for God, He is building His kingdom through us. "Not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit."
How to Soak
· Find a comfortable place to lie down.
· Allow the busyness of your thoughts to quieten down (don't fight them).
· Invite the Holy Spirit to soak you in His presence.
· Pray and surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit ... mind, body and soul.
· Focus on the Lord's presence within you.
· Rest in faith, believing He is working in you.
· Take as much time as you can.
(Try to give at least 20 minutes to start to relax and receive.)
· Get up refreshed and full of the Holy Spirit.
· Watch as God changes you and the world around you. “
Waiting on God is where we listen for instruction, and see what the Father is doing. Jesus said that He spoke nothing He had not heard from the Father, and did nothing He had not already witnessed the Father doing. As we wait on God a settled faith and abiding presence allows us to accomplish the works God has already prepared for us:
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11 NKJV)
Other Scriptures: Psalm 23:1-3; Psalm 4:4; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:9-11; Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 55:1-3; Luke 10:39