The Ultimate Guide to Soaking in God’s Presence
By Alice Clarke
Let’s just think about summer for a second, shall we? Relaxing in the sun, taking a dip in the pool, marinated steaks grilling on the barbeque…
Those are the days we dream about through a cold winter. But what does that have to do with soaking?
All of these activities are a picture of what soaking in the presence of God is like. When we sit out in the sunshine we’re resting, taking the goodness of the sun into our bodies, just like soaking is resting and receiving the goodness of the Holy Spirit.
When you’re in a pool, you’re covered all over in water, soaking wet. As soon as you get out, you get everything you touch wet. In the same way, when you spend time immersed in God’s presence, it affects your whole life and everything around you.
When you marinate a steak, the marinade gets right into the fibres of the meat, tenderizing and flavouring it. Resting in God’s presence softens your heart, it makes you more like Jesus, and it changes you in a way that you can’t un-change.
Put simply: Soaking in the presence of God completely transforms us.
If you’re new to the idea of soaking, or you’re looking for a refresher, here’s a soaking 101:
What is Soaking?
Soaking is a way to receive from God. In their book, Preparing for the Glory, John and Carol Arnott, founding pastors of Catch The Fire, describe soaking as, “...intentionally getting into the presence of God by faith, and just being with Him.” (p155)
It’s about taking the focus off yourself and what you can do in your God time (like praying and Bible reading) and letting Him move how He wants to.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV). When we spend time with Him, we find a place of rest.
Who Started it?
Resting in God’s presence isn’t a new concept. Christians have been waiting on the presence of the Holy Spirit for thousands of years. But the specific idea of soaking that we’re talking about here came out of the Toronto Blessing in 1994.
As people received prayer in the revival meetings, most of them would fall to the ground under the power of God’s presence. In Manifestations and Prophetic Symbolism, John Arnott talks about his experience as a leader in those meetings, “one thing that God made clear to us right from the beginning was that we shouldn’t try to get people up or move them, we were simply to let them stay on the floor and ‘soak’ in His presence because that is where He would meet with them and minister to them.” (p16-17).
Some people would get up and walk away after lying down for three minutes. But the people that stayed on the floor for more time received more. They were more transformed as they waited in God’s presence.
Out of that experience, people began to lie down and welcome God’s presence in public meetings and at home, and realized that they continued to receive in a powerful way.
How do I Soak?
Here are some simple steps to help you get started.
Get quiet and comfortable. Soaking is about resting, so it makes no sense to be too hot, too cold, or stuck in a crowded room. Some people soak on the floor with a pillow or on a couch.
Play some relaxing music. Music really helps your mind to focus. Put on some worship music that is relaxing for you. Music without words is ideal because it’ll allow you more freedom to focus on what the Holy Spirit is saying. There’s even a whole genre of soaking music to pick from.
Welcome the Holy Spirit. Simply pray, “I welcome you Holy Spirit.” It doesn’t need to be longer or fancier than that. In Matthew 7, Jesus reminds us that God is a kind father who gives good gifts! He’s ready and waiting to give you what you need.
Get rid of distractions. Put your phone on silent, close your laptop, go to a room where there’s not a pile of laundry to fold. You’ll know what distracts you, and you’ll get better at removing those distractions the more you soak. Carol Arnott keeps a notepad next to her and makes a list of everything that comes into her head - that way she’s got a note of anything she might need to remember for later.
Listen to what God has to say - God might speak to you through words, pictures, memories, or Bible verses.
How long should I soak? Some experienced soakers suggest that your mind won’t fully switch off until you’ve been resting for 15 minutes. In the School of Ministry, Toronto, the weekly soaking session is just shy of two hours long. Some people take one song at a time. Let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit. It will take time to build up stamina, but practice always helps!
Keep practicing. Soaking is probably not something you’re going to nail overnight. As John and Carol Arnott say in Preparing for the Glory, “This takes practice; we have very busy minds and very busy lives, and it takes some practice to learn to get quiet.” (p153)
What Difference Does it Make?
For every person who spends time in the presence of God, there is a different result [LINK]. Here are some of the outcomes that people report
You feel more peaceful. Jesus is the prince of peace. If there’s one thing we need in our kinda hectic lives it’s his real peace that creates calm in the storms of life: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:4, NIV)
You receive inner transformation without noticing it. When you spend time soaking, it allows God to work on your heart. Sometimes you won’t even know it happened.
When the School of Ministry in Toronto included soaking as a regular part of the student’s routine, they saw a dramatic difference. “Partly for 2 reasons,” describes Gordon Harris, Catch The Fire College director, “One, because they were just having time now, you know, listening to God about the things that were rolling around in their hearts already… the other part was that it actually, it put them in the position of taking more ownership, because previously the ownership would be ‘I have a problem, or I’m struggling with this, so help me.’”
You’re more aware of God’s presence. Gordon described how regular soaking changed things for his wife, Cathy, “For a whole year, Cathy soaked in the morning for an hour or half an hour or something, and her ability to sense God’s presence dramatically ramped up in that year.”
When you spend time with someone, you get to know them better. It’s the same with soaking. When you’re regularly in the presence of God in your personal time, you get to know what it looks like when He moves in other people, too.
You have more to give. “As you become more filled with the Holy Spirit, that’s when the desire to give Him away to others is born. This is what it means to minister to others out of the overflow,” say John and Carol Arnott in The Invitation (p33). As you soak, you’ll receive God’s heart for those around you. He’ll give you the energy and the love you need to give in a way you couldn’t on your own.