John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport...
One night during ministry time, I was tired so I lay down on the carpet and began to worship the Lord. After about five minutes I thought, "There are still so many more people to pray for; I need to get up and pray for them," but this time I remembered to ask the Lord if I should get up. I felt Him say, “No.”
A few minutes later, I asked Him again and felt the answer was still “no" although nothing seemed to be happening up to this point. I began to feel a tingling in the tips of the fingers on my right hand. "God, is this you?" I wondered. "If it is, then would you increase Your presence in me?" The sensation traveled up to my knuckles. "Oh Lord, it is You, please continue."
For the next three hours, I felt I was being empowered increment by increment until my whole body was tingling under the power of the Holy Spirit. I asked the Lord why He did this so slowly over a period of three hours when I knew He could have empowered me instantly. He answered, “Carol, you are right, I could have done it in an instant but that was not My purpose. I did it slowly because I wanted you to stay on the floor. I wanted to spend time with you.”
There must be time for Him, just to love Him and have Him love us, no other agendas, no shopping lists of prayer requests. Those may come later, but we need to put loving Him first, because only as we are filled with His love, do we have love to give away. So many Christians cannot rest in His presence but must constantly “be on duty” because they have not seen the value of soaking. One of my pet peeves over the past 7 years is seeing the way some people react when God’s presence comes strongly in a meeting. It is as though they can’t seem to stay and rest in that presence. They receive prayer and within five to ten minutes, they are on their way. God wants so much more than a five minute fling. So what’s the problem?
We have been taught from our early childhood to accomplish, to finish the task, to do, do, do. We are taught that we will be rewarded on the basis of our successful performances and some of us, especially leaders, have trouble with intimacy because we’ve tried to transfer this worldly mindset into our spiritual lives.
"Our highest calling is to intimacy with the living God."
When that happens to you, the “good” becomes the enemy of the best in your relationship with the Lord. Jesus rebuked people like this. One outstanding example was Martha, sister of Mary, who wanted Mary to help her cook for Jesus rather than sit at His feet. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part and that it would not be taken away from her. She valued His presence. Whenever Jesus was around, Mary was with Him, loving Him, just being with Him. Mary put the Great Commandment, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37 NIV) before the Great Commission.
Our highest calling is to intimacy with the living God. I do not want to hear the words, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” I want the love affair to begin now. The Bible begins with the marriage between Adam and Eve and ends with a wedding in Revelation when Jesus comes for His Bride. In between is the call for the Bride to make herself ready. Would you rather marry someone with whom you have an intimate relationship or a business contract? I would choose passionate love, knowing and being known, connecting heart to heart with the One with whom I will spend eternity.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, hanging on every word. It was easier for her because His physical presence was in the room. We must get in touch with His spiritual presence through the Holy Spirit. This can be done at home. Put on a CD and get comfortable in a chair, or on the floor. Enter into the worship and just “be” with Jesus.
"Soaking is far different from asking for things in prayer."
We need to develop a habit of spending quality time just loving Jesus at church, too. During ministry time, receive prayer and then plan to spend a long time lingering in His presence just basking in His love. Don’t just go down under the power and then pop up again after only a minute. You’ve missed the point which is experiencing His love for you. Soaking is far different from asking for things in prayer. There is a time to make your petitions known to God, but this comes first.
Suppose John came home, and I wanted to spend time with Him just loving him and he brushed me off asking where his supper was. I would be really hurt. Jesus, our Bridegroom, is like that, too. As with any relationship, spending time together is one of the most valuable things you can do.
Why is this so important? Soaking in His presence opens up the heart and soul to divine romance and intimacy. It allows the Lord to love you and you to love Him, much like a couple in love find that their love and intimacy deepen as they spend more and more time together. This is one missing piece of the Christian experience that God has come to restore in this move of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes He will fill you with His love and you will respond with a heart of a lover, other times He will go back and heal a deep wound, then other times He will empower you for the ministry He has for you. Your whole life will change when you realize that the Lord loves you absolutely. Once you realize how much the Lord desires to woo you and is enamored with you, and that He really likes you, loving Him will just flow naturally. Isn't He wonderful?
Sometimes there are blocks to intimacy with God. Let’s look at some of them:
Many people and especially leaders find it hard to quiet their minds to focus on loving Him, to just “be” with Him rather than “do” for Him. Their minds are so used to analyzing rather than receiving and giving love. What would it be like if a wife greeted her husband at the door with a big kiss, and he said to her, “Why would you put your mouth on my mouth? Don’t you know there are thousands of germs in your mouth?” A statement like that would surely kill the moment. So it is with the Lord. He wants to come close and draw us into a love affair. We can analyze it later, but let’s just enjoy the kiss.
The fear of intimacy is another stumbling block. Have you been so wounded either by childhood or adult relationships, that you have made an inner vow not to let anyone hurt you like that again? If so, you have inadvertently closed the door to receiving love, and even God’s love.
The fear of losing control is a big hindrance, too. One in four people has been sexually abused in our country, and because of this abuse, they find it very difficult to trust, much less be vulnerable lying on the floor. Their wounds need to be healed and their trust restored so that they can freely receive His love.
There are those who simply must stay in control. They have no confidence in the way someone else would run the meeting or pray for people. Their need to be in charge will not allow them to let others minister to them while they receive. To them, lying on the floor and soaking looks foolish to everyone and seems like a waste of time. Pride is controlling their behavior, and they need to repent of it and let the Holy Spirit cleanse them. We need to allow God to come to us in whatever way He chooses, and do to us whatever He chooses.
Why not get before the Lord right now, even if you are at home alone. Turn your heart towards spending time in His presence. Find a church that’s not in a hurry either, but allows quality time for soaking in God’s presence at their meetings. Spend as much time as you can just loving him and worshipping Him. Let Him fill you with His love, joy and peace. He is looking for your love because He wants a bride that loves Him.
He has many servants but few lovers. Which will you be?
This archived article was written by Carol Arnott for release in Feb, 2001. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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