How to Experience the Depth of God's Love Through Soaking
I pray that out of [God’s] glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
My first experience of the power of soaking prayer came about nine months after I came into the renewal. When I first encountered “the River” and the teachings of the Father Heart of God, I suddenly became aware that my prior Christian experience had not managed to establish myself solidly in the love of God. Although I was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, when I pictured my relationship to God’s love, I would see a vision of myself alone at night in a driving rainstorm, struggling up the side of a jagged cliff, moving toward a warm, safe, lighted cabin which I felt like I could never really reach. I was subconsciously convinced that even if I did reach it, it would not be long before I would find myself once more in the darkness to begin the struggle all over again.
When I began to soak in the presence of God, this issue was front-and-center in my mind, and it remained there for a long time. During that time, I gladly received the teaching on the love of God and eagerly expected Him to confirm it during my times of soaking, but for a long time it seemed like nothing was happening. While people all around me were getting “blasted” by the Holy Spirit and hearing God speak or having open visions of the Father, I honestly did not hear, see, feel, or smell anything to give me any indication that anything was happening to me.
About nine months later, however, the Lord suddenly drew me up into the vision of being lost on the mountainside, except that this time everything changed. In the vision, I suddenly reached the cabin, went inside. Instantly God surrounded me with a warm, almost palpable experience of His love pressing in on me from every side. I turned around to see the door close behind me and then vanish completely, and I heard the Lord say to me:
“You are now inside My love and you will never leave it.”
At that precise moment, all of the fear, insecurity and doubt that I had wrestled with for my entire Christian life vanished completely and the scripture that says: "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God”, became one hundred per cent true in my life. There has never been a moment since that time that I have doubted that the love of God holds me completely secure against anything the world or the devil can throw at me.
This revelation is the foundation of the fulfillment of the prayer that Paul prays for the Ephesians not just the understanding that they dwell fully in God, but that God dwells fully in them. After God establishes the believer in His love, it is then possible to move into an understanding of the fact that Jesus is seated within and working powerfully in and through us. This, in turn, brings us into an experiential awareness of the love of God, which goes far beyond the ability of our minds to comprehend, as Paul wrote: “To know this love that surpasses knowledge.” God never meant for His love to be simply a concept. He wants you experience it, because experiencing it will irrevocably change you.
HOW SOAKING WORKS
Soaking allows the Holy Spirit to work in our Body, Soul and Spirit.
God speaks to our body, through our five natural senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Information comes to us about the natural world through these avenues. There is then our consciousness, which contains the will, the memory and the understanding. These allow us to analyze the information we are receiving in light of experience and then decide to act or not. After this is the subconscious, which consists of our emotions and intuition. In the center is the spirit, which in someone who is born again is joined to Christ and forms the fountainhead of revelation that flows out to illuminate the soul.
A couple of years ago the Lord used this discription and a teaching about how lightning strikes during a thunderstorm to illustrate for me the way that the Holy Spirit acts to transform us when we soak. During a thunderstorm, a negative electrical charge builds along the bottom side of a cloud until it is so strong that a series of invisible pulses of electricity begin to grow down towards the positively charged ground below. When the trail has moved close enough to the earth, it opens up a highly conductive pathway for electrical charge to flow, and the massive electrical charge in the earth flashes up along the pathway, producing the visible discharge of energy that we see as a lightning strike.
In applying this teaching to the action of the Holy Spirit, we consider that the spirit within us is the Earth, and our senses are the thunderclouds overhead. As natural beings, we perceive God and the truth about Him primarily from the outside in, through our natural senses: we read the Bible, we see God move in the Earth, we hear testimonies about His power.
The things we perceive sink down into our souls to a certain degree and then stop. As we meditate on these truths and let them ‘dwell richly within us,’ they take root deeper and deeper inside until a clear pathway opens up between the soul and the spirit in light of the truth on which we are meditating. At some point, suddenly revelation flashes out from the spirit and illuminates the pathway within the soul, and God establishes more of His Kingdom within us. In other words, the light of the revelation we receive from God permanently transforms that area of our souls.
The problem is that each person puts up walls throughout the conscious and subconscious mind, which block truth from flowing inward and the flow of revelation and power outward. When we describe knowing something of God in our heads but not in our hearts, we are describing a truth about God, which has lodged in our understanding or our will, but has been blocked from connecting with the spirit by a wall in the soul.
Walls commonly appear in the understanding as unbelief. In the will they appear as rebellion, judgment, and unforgiveness. In the memory, walls appear as suppression, a refusal to allow dark or painful memories to be brought into the light of God. A person forms walls in response to emotional trauma when he feels pain or shame and lock that part away from the rest of who he is. We create walls against intuition because our highly rational and logical culture devalues intuitive reasoning and trains us to do so. It is actually easier and more natural for us to hear the Lord to speak into our emotions and intuition because they are farther inward nearer our spirits. We focus our minds more often on the information coming to us from the natural world than the supernatural one.
It is important to realize that these walls do not just keep the truth out and therefore keep large parts of our souls in darkness. They also keep the power of God within us bottled up so that it cannot flow out into the world. Removing these walls is a matter of embracing the truth in every area where a wall exists. Embracing the truth is a process that begins with an intellectual agreement but must end with the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This is what we are positioning ourselves to receive when we soak.
HOW TO SOAK
True soaking is not a passive activity. As we soak, we are taking time to experience the reality of Christ dwelling within us. We are giving the Holy Spirit the opportunity to take the truth in our minds, clothe it with the love of God, then send it out to evangelize the parts of our souls that are farthest away from God’s light, those places behind the walls. Soaking is as vital a spiritual discipline as worship, prayer or reading the Bible. We submit our minds and souls to receive the transforming work of the Holy Spirit by a process. How, then, do we go about the business of soaking?
First, for soaking to be effective, we must come to it with an attitude of expectant faith in God.
We must believe that He exists. We must believe that He will answer us. We must wait eagerly and expectantly for Him to come. My pastor likens this kind of waiting to the way that Wiley E. Coyote ‘waits’ for the Roadrunner; this kind of waiting is anything but passive! We also have to wait in faith, because we may have to wait a long time without any necessary indication that anything is happening as in my case.
The Lord showed me a vision once in which I was standing with Him on the ocean shore watching the waves lap up onto the beach. All of a sudden, as we watched, the lights went out and the Lord pointed out to me that even though I couldn’t see the waves, I could hear them at work.
“Day and night,” He told me, “whether you can see them or not, the waves never stop washing the shore. And in the same way, day and night, whether you see it or not, my love never stops moving upon and washing the parts of your soul that you have submitted to me.”
The next step in soaking is to withdraw your mind from the distractions around you and focus on the presence of God within. The Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God is within, and that, in fact, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have all taken up residence within us. Our minds are usually so active and distracted with the things going on around us and our efforts to find God ‘out there’, that the last place we think to look for Him is the one place that we can be really be sure that we will find Him.
With our minds quieted and our attention turned within to the presence of God, we must surrender our own agenda and wait upon the Lord. Soaking is not an opportunity to tell God what we want Him to do for us. It is an opportunity for us to surrender and submit to the transforming and renewing work of the Holy Spirit.
Although this may at times turn into a dialogue about one of those walls that needs to come down, many times it is simply an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to deepen your experience, as Paul puts it:
“How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
As you continue this practice and the walls inside your soul begin to wash away under the influence of the love of God, you develop a habit of turning inward to find Him. In other words, you learn how to abide in the love of God and bring more of your soul under the influence of His Spirit. It is this habit that over time opens up the way for you to experience the fulfillment of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”