Immersing into electric solitude
“Soaking prayer” has been a buzzword in Christian renewal over the past decade. However, it is more than the latest religious trend. Throughout the ages, those who walked closest to God were those who basked in his electric radiance. Those who best knew him, were those who allowed their thoughts and interior turbulence to be silenced, and drank deeply from the living streams of life.
“Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!” (Song of Solomon 5:1).
It is clear that we are tasked to drink constantly from the river of life, and all too often, we take a sip – drink of his sweetness for a season – then return to our patterns of strife. We know that walking in the Spirit must become a lifestyle. But without waiting and lingering in his midst, we forfeit intense kingdom revelation and power. Most of all, we miss God himself and his destiny for our lives.
If we literally miss a day without pulling aside to drink of his new wine – to miss out on his “rivers of pleasure,” his never ending delight – I count the day a waste. I work much better under the inebriating peace of his nearness, and the best work is often done when I’m too sloshed to get off the floor.
Americans want results – productivity. God just wants to get us plastered in his love.
Soaking prayer, or contemplation, is simply the practice of the presence of God. It is a place of stillness and meditation, wherein we enter the “secret place of the Most High,” merely for the sake of being near to him. It is a response and a culmination of intimacy, wherein we cease to perform for God, and instead choose simply to be with him. It is a posture of rest and repose, wherein we literally baste in his power and closeness as he flows over us and through us. We encounter the supernatural.
“I still believe that all spiritual life consists of practicing God’s presence, and that anyone who practices it correctly will soon attain spiritual fulfillment. To accomplish this, it is necessary for the heart to be emptied of everything that would offend God. He wants to possess your heart completely,” writes Brother Lawrence, a renowned 17th century monk, known widely for walking in a supernatural deluge of the Holy Spirit, marked with joy, simplicity and humility. Lawrence cultivated such a manifest presence in his everyday life, that people would travel from miles around just to watch him wash dishes.
I am convinced that it is all a matter of our desire – we can each have as much of God’s manifest presence in our lives as our hearts truly want. We have to get hungry. No measure of prayer, reading or spiritual discipline can replace the fire of passionate hunger which God desires from us. And how can we ever become hungry for him, unless we stop to taste and see that he is good? If we truly want more of God’s presence in our lives, we will get it.
“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men,’” (Is. 29:13). And yet, when the flame of divine love does begin to kindle in our souls, we know that “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him,” (2 Chron. 16:9).
There is no form. No methodology to the practice of his presence. It relies heavily on silence – on listening – but the only DNA which separates it from other systems, is that it is not a system … it is a relationship.
“This is what the sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. …’” (Is. 30:15).
In the place of his nearness, in hearing his still small voice, we are supercharged. We can do super-human feats and receive heavenly visitations. Taking the time to experience God kindles the fire of heaven until it is raging within us. It is my belief that, in today’s postmodern era, the discontinuity of life, the discontentment with religious formulas and the evident limits of rationalist thinking are simply signposts to a cultural cry for true spiritual intimacy.
Who still believes in the supernatural? More tend to worship a dead god that lives in a building. But there is a generation of new mystics on the rise, who will unlock the mysteries of God that have been sealed and hidden throughout the ages. This is because they do more than believe he is alive – they believe he is near, and they walk with him like Enoch. They will walk in unprecedented revelatory power that will even put the first century apostles to shame. In fact, it’s already beginning. Many are young people – the first fruits of the army foretold by the prophet Joel – who do not rest on the laurels of a seminary degree, but simply understand their access to the war room of heaven itself. There is a rapid maturation process when one dwells with God.
We are also on the brink of seeing a full restoration of the contemplative monastic tradition of divine listening in the vein of St. John of the Cross, Teresa and others, which has been largely lost in the modern era. And it will be amplified in these latter day rains of God’s glory.
My inner man must first learn to “be still and know that he is God” (Ps. 46:10), before I can hear the thunder in the distance. My pride has so geared me to trust in human strength and my own stubborn efforts to succeed – even to succeed in spiritual matters – that I am unable to truly quiet myself and just be with him. Feels unproductive. What will it take for us to just lie down and trust God?
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still,” (Ex 14:14).
“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. … There remains, then, a rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest,” (Heb. 4:1).
Even as we long to rest in God, so the Son of Man is still seeking a place to rest his head. We are his resting place. The emerging church is shaking off dead works, turning her eyes back to the fiery passion of her savior.
There are a people arising who hunger for the deeper undercurrents, no longer content with the mental gyrations of churchy legalisms. The coming generation longs for true intimacy with God alone, out of which will flow true power. And the reality of the spiritual realm, with signs, wonders and miracles – which are needed to reach a world in critical darkness – will only come forth through the cultivation of soaking in God’s presence. The inner chamber of his glory, opened by the blood of Christ, is the secret source of all power.
“There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God. Only those who have experienced it can understand. However, I don’t advise you to practice it for the sole purpose of gaining consolation for your problems. Seek it, rather, because God wills it and out of love for him. If I were a preacher, I would preach nothing but practicing the presence of God,” says Lawrence.
Yes, there is kingdom work to be done. There is a world hungry for the true gospel of Jesus Christ. There are goals to be accomplished and battles to be won. But the work begins in the closet. It begins with knowing God, and not just about him. Being with him, and not just doing for him. Listening to him, and not just talking at him. This does not always sound like practical Christianity. Christianity was never practical.
When we first stop, and just tap into the vine – our fruitfulness multiplies. We can no longer afford to serve for intimacy. We must learn to serve from a posture of intimacy, receiving his love which is so freely given. Soaking in his love will naturally propel us forward into supernatural Christian service.