John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport...
I have always been a worshipper and liked to pray, but I have not always been a listener.
It took this move of the Spirit to teach me that listening means learning to soak in His presence. Soaking is simply resting before Him, listening for what He says by learning to read the impressions He prints on my heart and mind. I have learned to experience the reality of God daily through soaking. He is present in me, transforming my inner man as my soul becomes aware of His indwelling presence.
When the Holy Spirit fell on us on January 20, 1994, I was thrilled at His presence and power. Before that time, I had experienced little tastes of Him at meetings that put a deep hunger on the inside of me to experience more. When Kathryn Kuhlman used to say, “The Holy Spirit is more real to me that any human being,” I longed to know Him like that. But how, I wondered?
My life as a pastor’s wife was very busy. I found myself binding up the broken hearted, setting the captives free and attending to church life in general. But although I was very busy working for Him, I felt as though I had lost my first love. Working for Him is different from spending time loving Him and letting Him love you. Had you asked me back then if I had lost my first love, I would have denied it.
When I married John, he owned a travel agency and was not in the ministry, although that had been the longing of his heart. When we first started a church in my hometown, I used to cry and say, “How can I be a pastor’s wife? I can’t sing or play the piano.” In fact, I was so shy and intimidated that John had to give me three months’ notice to prepare a message for Mother’s Day. I would only speak once a year because speaking made me so nervous.
The first time we met Marc DuPont, he gave me a prophetic word that I would be speaking to pastors and leaders, and to thousands of people. I must admit that I laughed aloud and said in my heart, “Some prophet you are!” (I have since apologized to him.) But what transformed me was soaking!
Maybe you are puzzled by this concept and are asking, “What do you mean by ‘soaking’? Why do I need it? How do I do it?”
Soaking is positioning yourself before God to experience His love for you and to give your love to Him.
While it involves listening for the still small voice, it is more than that. It means allowing yourself enough time to be immersed in the tangible presence of God. It is really the fulfillment of the first commandment, which Jesus said is: “To love the Lord with ALL your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
There must be time in your life just to love Him and let Him love you with no agendas, no shopping lists of ours or others’ needs. God is love and wants us to be lovers of Him first before we even try to love others.
Psalm. 45:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God.” But from early childhood, most of us have been taught to accomplish more, to finish the task, to be constantly “on duty.” I have sadly noticed this in meetings. When God’s presence comes strongly, people cannot seem to remain and rest in His presence. They receive prayer and within five to ten minutes, they get up and are on their way. They have missed the point, which is learning to personally experience His love.
Jesus addressed this tendency in a visit to the home of Mary and Martha. Mary, who opted out of kitchen duty with her sister Martha, chose what Jesus called “the better part,” and Jesus said that it would not be taken away. Mary valued His presence by sitting at His feet, loving Him and just being with Him. Martha, on the other hand, was preoccupied with preparing dinner.
God wants more than a five minute fling. It takes time and a conscious effort to prioritize what God sees as our deepest human need, the need to experience His intimate, unconditional love. In previous revivals, our forerunners in the church referred to this time of “soaking” as “tarrying.” They learned to spend entire meetings just waiting in His presence.
What works for me is to get quiet before the Lord. Sometimes I listen to a worship CD, one that helps me focus on my love for Him. Then I get comfortable on the floor with a pillow under my head. I do not think that posture matters. I believe that you can soak in your favorite chair.
Turn the phone off and let the answering machine get the messages. During this time, “The Distracter” likes to remind you of the many things that you still need to do. I outsmart him by taking a note pad and pen and jotting down all the things he reminds me of and then return my focus to Jesus and continue soaking. He soon gives up when I refuse to remain distracted.
How often do I need to soak? We need to develop a habit of spending time with Him every day. It will usually take at least a week of daily soaking to begin learning to bring your soul to a place of stillness and rest. We get so busy “doing” that we find it hard just to “be.” This is because our minds are always analyzing rather than receiving.
In the beginning, you may experience deep frustration as you try to quiet yourself before God. However, when you are faithful and obedient to pursue Him, you will quickly learn how anxious He is to be with you.
Maybe you are thinking, “But I read my Bible everyday and pray. Why do you think that it is so important to soak?”
The Bible is a book of law, history, prophecy, poetry and teaching. Everything in God’s written word comes out of the experiences its leading characters had with God. Soaking or experiencing His Presence opens up the heart and soul to divine romance. 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. As with any relationship, spending time together is one of the most valuable things you can do. This is one missing piece of the Christian experience that God has come to restore in this move of the Holy Spirit.
Each time you spend with Him will be different. At times, He will flood you with His unconditional love and affection. Other times He will cover you with His healing. He may go back and heal a deep wound from the past. Sometimes He will flood you with abundant joy. Then at other times, He will empower you for the ministry He has for you. Your whole life will change when you take time to realize that the Lord loves you. 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. Is He not wonderful?
Before I started soaking, I never had a vision or heard the voice of God on a regular basis. However, since I have learned to soak, the Lord has shown me things visually. Just recently, I was telling the Lord in prayer about how I missed my dad and that I really needed a dad. A couple of days after telling Him, I was lying on the floor soaking and received this healing vision.
In the vision, I was dancing with Jesus. As we were twirling very fast, I was wondering where we were. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a very shiny floor. Thinking that we really needed to be careful not to slip and fall, I suddenly realized that we were dancing on the sea of glass in heaven. The vision widened, and I saw a massive throne in the distance with smoke and fire coming from under it. A figure stood up from the throne and began walking toward us.
About a week before this vision, I had been reading in Daniel 7:9-14 about the Ancient of Days. It says that His garment was white as snow and His hair was like pure wool. Because Jesus said: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” I pictured the Father just like Jesus on earth. When I saw the passage in Daniel, I was astonished to realize the Father looks like the glorified Jesus of Revelation 1:14.
In my vision as the figure came closer to us, I saw that He had white hair. He approached us and said to Jesus: “Excuse me, but may I cut in, I would like to dance with my daughter?” At that point, I cried and cried as I realized in the deepest part of my heart that I have a heavenly Dad that really, really loves me. He not only loves me, but He knows and cares about the smallest need in my heart.
Soaking has also given me a holy boldness in ministry. The anointing of God has made room for me and it will for you, if you spend time with Him. I know more than anyone else does that if the Holy Spirit ever lifted, I would go back to being that shy, frightened, intimidated girl that I used to be. While I do not want to be like that anymore, I do want to be childlike.
I have learned to experience the reality of God daily through soaking.
The Holy Spirit likes it when He is in control, and we become like children. Jesus said: “... Unless you become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The price of entering His kingdom is becoming humbly vulnerable and completely trusting. This is the beginning of a fruitful Christian life.
Soaking does not mean that you do nothing for God. John likes to put it this way. The Christian life is like a circle. On that circle are three words, He, they and I. We need to be constantly filled because it is impossible to give away what you have not received. When we are full of His love and presence, then we can pour out our love to Him. As our own tanks become full, our focus turns to the broken, the hurting and the lost. You will then accomplish more in one hour that you used to in a whole day.
Some people say to us: “Are you still lying on the floor? We have moved on.”
But as my friend Melinda Fish says: “Moved on to what?” When you have the presence of God, what is there to move on to? I wonder if they are moving back to the way they used to do things. We are creatures of habit who like the familiar and being in control.
Maybe it is time for you to go back to soaking, connecting with the intimate and powerful presence of God.
Sarah Edwards, wife of the Great Awakening leader, Jonathan Edwards, wrote in the 1740’s that during revival ..."I was conscious of His nearness to me and my dearness to Him."
This is my prayer for you.
This archived article was written by Carol Arnott for release in Nov, 2005. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
Sign up to receive a periodical digest of some of the best content from this magazine.