Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:55 am
A friend of mine who is a missionary in the Muslim world started a thread on my Facebook page by posting a link about "soaking prayer." This led to some initial discussion, which I will post below for those interested in the subkject. Clint posted:
I did not intend to respond, but was specifically asked my opinion by another friend in Idaho, so I wrote:Soaking Prayer
Soaking is no doubt easier to model than explain in written form. One of the differences that comes to mind is the comparison and contrast of soaking to “worship”. I don’t mean worship in the general sense, but in a typical worship time where most people sit or stand and sing to the Lord any number of songs—a very important and just as valid form of loving the Lord. Yet, in soaking, people typically lie down on the floor and listen to music either live or recorded (we use an iPod & a Bose speaker), listening to the music and words of the songs and actually focus on intimately communing with the Lord. I’d also say that one of the most common things that happens to people who “soak” individually or corporately is that they begin to literally feel the manifest Presence of God—the best thing about soaking! Of course feeling His tangible Presence is even harder to explain and must rather be experienced. Suffice-it-to-say that from my own experience and those who I know, say that they feel His Presence both spiritually and physically. Thankfully, I believe that if ANY believer begins to soak and asks God to experience His felt Presence—they will! He is faithful and I believe loves to reveal Himself in this intimate way. Soaking has finally helped me understand what a great benefit “waiting” on the Lord is. Waiting quietly for and in His Presence has such deep rewards that it is hard to put it into words. The weight of His Glory is wonderful! At times it is even difficult to get up under it! When His joy really hits you, true laughter is inevitable! The peace and love that the Lord gives to a soaker sets their hearts and minds to a complete rest and contentment, far away from any anxiety or stress. After everyone is full of God’s Presence we love to go into a ministry time to those present by praying for individuals while the others exercise their spiritual gifts, placing importance on the edifying gifts such as prophecy, “words” of encouragement, pictures the Lord may give, impressions, etc. Also, a natural result of soaking is MORE hunger, thirst, longing, and yearning for the Lord! MORE intimacy with Him is the goal! by Clint Mitchell (admin). http://mannaformystics.blogspot.com/200 ... ng_05.html
My friend Clint was not pleased by this answer and wrote:
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I don't know much about it. It doesn't appeal to me, as it doesn't seem to be something the Bible talks about, and I am not sure how it advances the Kingdom of God. I also don't know what fruit it produces in people's lives. Until I learn more of these things, my impression is that it is another charismatic fad. I don't generally follow those. It takes enough concentration just to follow Jesus.
So, I was obligated to respond:Are you serious Steve? It doesn't "appeal" to you?! "Charismatic fad"?! Please be careful and judge righteously here my dear brother. Did you read the full description I wrote explaining what Soaking Prayer is? Would you please click "See More" and do so, then tell me what is unbiblical about my explanation? If you were there in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the ministry trip where I took this picture, I'm sure feeling and experiencing the thick, tangible Love and Presence of God and being in the midst of a humble people whose hunger for God I've never seen paralleled would appeal to you! They are experiencing spiritual ecstasies and raptures as they wait on the Lord with longing and expectation. As you well know Steve, Christianity has a rich history of Christian Mystics, Mysticism and spiritual/supernatural experiences while they ‘followed Jesus’ i.e., A.W. Tozer, Brother Lawrence, Mme. Guyon, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, to name only a few. As I’ve asked you before Steve, please buy John Crowder’s first two books and read them. They will clarify many of your questions and allay many doubts: “Miracle Workers, Reformers and The New Mystics” & “The Ecstasy of Loving God.” If you would rather me buy them and send them to you, please just ask me and I would be happy to.
As far as “you not knowing the fruit it produces in people’s lives” you’ve known me for many years brother. I am a proud graduate of GCS and one of your biggest fans! Would you then please believe me when I say that by going on my first (of now many) ministry trips with Randy Clark (the man God used to start the Toronto Blessing) and Surpresa Sithole (who is now a dear friend of mine and one of the Int’l Directors of Iris Ministries), being touched by God in this way (the Renewal) has changed my Christian life for the better! It was the personal revival I so desperately needed for so long! The first trip to Cambodia basically saved my marriage, as I left Qatar spiritually dry and struggling with a hardened heart and the harshness that comes with it, to God softening my heart to the point of Melissa and the boys seeing a notable difference immediately when I returned. God even delivered me completely from biting my fingernails (and I haven’t even once been tempted since that 2003 trip to start biting them again)—the only other time I hadn’t bitten my nails since I was six years old was when I attended the GCS under your teaching! The “Renewal” has countless wonderful testimonies including saving marriages, ministries, deliverance from suicide/depression, sickness, spiritual dryness, and the like. There is even a book written which includes many of these testimonies: “Experience the Blessing: Testimonies from Toronto” by John Arnott. Citing myself again, as a brother you know, love, and trust, please believe me Steve that this journey of MORE hunger, thirst, longing, and yearning for God is the greatest fruit produced in my life! A much-improved marriage and a life’s goal of knowing God more intimately while following my Beloved is fruit enough, isn’t it?
I look forward to hearing from you. May God bless this discussion as iron sharpens iron in the Love of Jesus. Your brother, who has loved you since we met in 1987 in Honolulu and who will love you until we find ourselves together prostrate and unable to get up before the Throne of God! Clint
Now the ball is in your court...Hi Clint,
That certainly sounds like good fruit in your life, Brother. I will try to be open minded about it. Yes, I did read the whole write-up, but it is just about all I have read on the subject, which I why I don't feel I can speak familiarly to the topic. What I am trying to ascertain is whether the experience resembles anything that any godly person in scripture practiced or recommended—or would have valued.
Clint, I don’t want anything I say here to reflect on you, because you are a different kind of man from many that I am thinking of—so please don’t think I am talking about you here. I am aware that many people run after experiences. Many of those people have impressed me as shallow people who are self-centered. They want some gratifying experience to keep them on track and to keep them excited about God. I believe that such experiences from God really exist, of course. I have experienced much of the goodness, faithfulness, power, anointing and comfort of God throughout my life. It is very gratifying. But I accept these experiences at God’s discretion. I do not have the impression that the apostles or prophets of scripture aimed at such things among their spiritual goals. I believe their emphasis was on following Jesus and obeying God to please Him. Their own pleasure does not seem to have ranked high in their list of personal priorities.
I guess the whole terminology of “soaking prayer” seems kind of self-contradictory to me. “Prayer” is God-directed, whereas it seems like “soaking” is directed toward me (just as water is directed toward a sponge when it is soaking it up). I do believe in “believing” and “receptive” prayer—that is, “when you pray, believe that you receive it.” It is in the nature of all prayer to present requests to God. One should anticipate answers to such requests, which involves “receiving” as a result of prayer. But the receiving is not itself prayer, but it is God’s answer to my prayer. When I pray, I am directing my attention outward from myself toward the One to whom I am speaking. I don’t want to change that focus to be upon myself.
But perhaps I am not understanding the concept. If “soaking” simply means being quiet and receptive before God, then that is nothing new to me, nor to Christian experience generally. I am not sure what additional factors are involved in “soaking,” but the need for music and lying on the floor, and such makes me wonder how much of the experience is more psychological than spiritual. I don’t know. I’m just wondering.
I am pretty sure that Tozer thought as I do about such things (not that we are bound to follow his lead, though you mentioned him). There have been ecstatic mystics, but Tozer (and most men of spiritual depth whom I have read and known) talked frequently of the dark night of the soul, and of the sense of feeling God’s distance, not just His presence (David’s Psalms, quite often complain of God’s hiddenness). I don’t know whether sensate experiences of God were very common for anyone in the Bible, but I do know that many of them felt God’s absence a great deal.
I would love to have more genuine ecstatic experiences of God’s presence. I have had them in the past and I miss them. However, I also miss my wife, my children and many old friends, but it has not been the will of God to provide me with those experiences that I miss having with them. I am content in times of abounding as well as abasing. A man is expected to be faithful and to love God supremely (even as he would be expected to do toward his wife if he were away from her) in the presence or in the absence of pleasant experiences. I will not make them my goal, because the Bible does not present such as the goal of the spiritual man, and, in fact, presents a much different set of values for me to pursue. I already love God and delight in His service with or without that kind of experience. If I can love Him and serve Him better by having some kind of experience of His manifest presence, then I hope He may provide such. I certainly welcome your prayers for me to have more of this kind of thing, if you think it would enhance my love for God or my service to Him and to His Body.
As for reading the books you mentioned, I am willing to know what they say, but my reading obligations are so overwhelming, I don't know when I would be able to get around to it. I don’t mind buying them myself. I still have the ones you gave me. It is finding or prioritizing the time to read them that is difficult. I know that you may feel my priority should be more in the area of "experiencing" God. The experience of God’s faithfulness and comfort in my life has proved to be very practical and has inspired me in living for Him. I am sure we could all use more experiences of that kind, and that God knows how and when they are needed. However, I have not found any evidence that Jesus or the apostles encouraged us to seek special experiences, other than the experiencing of righteousness, love, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. These are the fruits I desire. My first priority is to please God completely, and to leave it up to Him what kind of experiences I receive. Your fruit is good, Brother, but I have seen others who are seeking special experiences who impress me as shallow, immature, and distracted from the business of walking with God. I try to keep an open mind. I love you, and am very glad for the things you have experienced that have brought liberty and faithfulness in your life.
More blessings to you!
Your Brother Steve