Soaking vs. Quiet Time
Before I get into this too deeply, let me state emphatically that I believe in spending quiet time with God. We live in a world full of chaos and distraction. Anxiety and eye candy continually compete for our attention and we constantly have to re-focus our attention on heaven. Without this precious time with the Master we’re prone to wander aimlessly, and listen to every voice BUT His.
Personally, I have to get up early in the morning before anyone wakes up, otherwise I would never have my quiet time with the Father. I’m sure those of you with young kids know what I mean.
What is “Soaking”?
In it’s most basic form, soaking is the practice of finding a quiet place to spend time with God, emptying your mind of all distraction and attempting to get into contact with the Holy Spirit.
For most, it rarely remains at this basic level.
During my stint at the Elijah List (2001-2008), the practice of soaking grew immensely popular in the prophetic church, and continues to do so. Usually, the “soaker” has a soaking CD playing in the background that is conducive to the soaking experience. Most of the time, these CDs have music playing, with a prophet or “prophetic person” either speaking, prophesying or singing with the music. Elijah List contributors such as Todd Bentley, Stacey Campbell and the Kansas City prophets (Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, Paul Cain, etc.) have released entire series of worship CDs created for this very purpose.
To the spiritually young and immature, the practice of soaking seems SO RIGHT. They think: “Who wouldn’t want to get in contact with God’s Holy Spirit? What better way to experience the Presence of God? The people who practice it prophesy a LOT and they seem so ‘spiritual,’ this MUST be the right way to do things … Right?”
The Marketing of Deception
Soaking has been marketed as a shortcut into the presence of God, delivered a la carte without the need for personal prayer time or study in His word. Let’s take a look at a recent article by Gary Oates and I’ll show you what I mean…
The key is where your focus is … on the things of God or on things of this world. Bible reading and prayer are not enough. We must take time alone with Him, not asking for anything but more of Him, more of His fullness, more of His Presence in our everyday lives. God releases power through us as we dwell in intimacy with Him. The natural outworking of His Presence is miracles.
How do we “soak”? We soak like a sponge. Put a dry sponge in a bucket of water and slowly the water permeates the sponge. This is the same as soaking in God’s Presence. The more we soak, the more we become filled with His Spirit.
I’m often asked, “What do you do in your time of seeking His Presence?” I don’t have a set formula. In my life, it varies from time to time, but the basic components are as follows:
First, I go into a private room, lock the door, and get on the floor before the Lord. It doesn’t matter whether you sit or lie down. What’s most important is the attitude of your heart.
Second, I repent of any sin in my life and I receive God’s forgiveness.
Third, I worship the Lord in both my native language (English) and in the language of the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, I do the vital prayer of Romans 6:13 that has transformed my life: “…present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Fifth, I begin to recall experiences with the Lord (i.e., healings, miracles, provision) where He has manifested Himself in wonderful ways. This creates more of an expectancy and awareness of His Presence as I relive these times.
I tell the Lord: “God, I want more of You, more of Your Presence, more of Your fullness in my life. Fill me with more of You.” I may repeat this statement many times as I wait on the Lord and focus on Him.
Then, I get quiet and that’s when I begin to hear His voice. Many times, I begin to have visions and supernatural experiences.
The key here is learning to wait in solitude. I cannot overemphasize the importance of waiting on the Lord until I experience His manifest Presence daily. I don’t come out of that private room until I have experienced His Presence.
During our soaking times, we position ourselves to receive impressions, nudges, quiet whispers, pictures, angelic visitations, and supernatural revelations. Here is a partial list of what to expect:
- Dreams (Job 33:14-16; Genesis 28:10-16)
- Visions (Daniel 7:1-3,9; Acts 16:9-10)
- Trances (Acts 10:9-17, 11:5)
- Out of body experiences (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
- Angelic visitations (Luke 1:57,11-17; Acts 12:7-10)
- Being transported in the Spirit (Acts 8:39-40)
Experiencing the true intimate Presence of the living God will radically change your life. People describe His manifest Presence in different ways. To some, it is heat, electricity, or shaking. To others, it is lightness, peace, or weeping.
Experiencing the manifest Presence is not the goal but the gateway to the supernatural realm. It’s the beginning. We go into the spirit realm where we can see Him, hear His voice, walk with Him, and be empowered by Him.
Isaiah 64:4 says God “acts for the one who waits for Him.” The Amplified Bible states, “God…who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.” He’s waiting on us to wait on Him. (Source)
The Supernatural IS Real
I am not a non-spiritual, closed-minded person and I am NOT a cessationist … not at all! Nor do I believe in a distant God who ONLY speaks through the written Word (although that is our primary source). He is very willing to speak to His Children. But God is a purposeful God, and when He speaks, there is a reason behind it, and it will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS line up with His written Word.
Having said that, I find a very serious danger in Gary Oates’ (and the prophetic movement’s) approach to spending time (or “soaking”) in the presence of God, and here’s why:
First and foremost, the supernatural byproducts of soaking that Gary has listed above are NOT the danger to a young christian.
Read through the article again.
How much of it emphasized the Word and prayer? Not much … in fact, the Word and prayer are “not enough,” according to Gary.
Now, compare that to the amount of space dedicated to promoting the supernatural and the “touchy-feely,” experiential possibilities that might take place during a person’s time with God.
Clearly, something is out of balance here.
To say things like “Bible reading and prayer are not enough” belittles the very elements that are needed to safeguard your communication and experience with God.
We must realize that we have an entire generation of youth (and older people) who are desperately, and recklessly, seeking supernatural encounters from ANY source (just watch the news and look at your TV guide). Additionally, new converts often have an extreme hunger to experience God in a very “real” way.
Personally, I think hunger for God is a BEAUTIFUL thing. But we cannot assume that, just because they go to church (even a prophetic church), that their foundation in the Word and prayer is strong. In fact, of the 7 years that I spent working for the Elijah List and going to the Vineyard, very, VERY few had a strong knowledge of the Word.
I need to ask, if a person doesn’t know the Word, how is he/she going to recognize the voice of the Almighty? How is he/she going to differentiate between the “Touch” of the Holy Spirit and the touch of another spirit?
It’s simple …. They won’t.
A Soaker’s Defense
Most of the time, if they have any scriptural knowledge at all, advocates of soaking will bring up scriptures that mention “waiting on God” to defend their practice. For example, they have used the following:
I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God [is] my defense.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation [is] from Him.
Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
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.”
When they use these Scriptures, they are blatantly taking the Word of God out of context. Go back and read the surrounding verses (or the entire chapter). Almost every time, the writer is telling people to wait for God to defend them against their enemies. And we SHOULD wait on God to defend us… He is our Salvation!
We MUST understand this: waiting on God, at least from a scriptural perspective, has nothing to do with your prayer life. It has to do with God and His willingness to fight for us!
Let me reiterate, there is GREAT value in spending quiet time with God, but the soaking approach and “scriptural” defense of those who practice soaking is weak, at best.
Who Am I to Judge?
First … before you throw up the “Judge Not” scriptures as a (flimsy) defense, read my post entitled “Judge Not? – Nonsense! Yeshua Told Us to Judge!” After you read the post, I hope you will understand that you have been duped (we all have) …now please continue reading.
It is VERY scriptural to judge fruit.
In fact, Jesus told us:
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by [its] fruit.
Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
I’ve seen this fruit time and again.
Because people desire a “have-it-your-way” supernatural experience, they are prone to seek supernatural fulfillment through carnal (sensual) means. Trained by the world (and the pulpit) to pay attention to, and feed, our senses, they feel they’ve encountered the Spirit of God when their senses are tickled by ANY supernatural force. Because it makes their senses feel good, they are very reluctant to even remotely consider that they have been deceived.
It never fails. Every time, those who try to empty their minds and have little or no foundation in the Word, they open themselves up wide for deceiving spirits. Convinced that they are more spiritual because they are hearing voices, “manifesting” and feeling things, they leave behind the tools that are their very lifeline to God… the Word and prayer. Those so-called prophets who promote soaking should know that only those with a solid foundation in the Word of God and prayer will be able to discern between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the voice of another.
Remember This: If you market an experience-driven method of reaching out to the supernatural, promising supernatural encounters at the expense of a solid foundation in the Word (and calling it “intimacy with God”), you will destroy whoever practices your method.
It’s always best to stick with what works. Supernatural things MAY happen, but they will always be a result of spending the time with the Lord in the methods He gave us long ago… the Word and prayer.