When I first began to learn about intercession from my friend and mentor Diane, she introduced me to a practice called “soaking.” I had no prior familiarity with this concept, but when she did it, she could feel God’s presence around her, even to the point of being like a weight pressing her body downward, and that sounded so totally awesome that I wanted to learn how to do it too! While that might sound strange for those who don’t know, the word for God’s presence, “chavod/kavod/chabod” in Hebrew, means weighty glory or weighty presence, so God’s presence showing up has the potential to feel like weight, and this is seen a few different places in scripture. During our Watch meetings every other weekend we would spend hours praying, but usually around an hour of that was spent doing this soaking-thing. She would put on a CD of softer, more lyrically intimate worship music and we would lay there, cultivating His Presence.
At first I just took it on faith that this was good for me, but as time went on, I too began to sense this inexplicable something around me. An energy, sort of, but also a wind. A weight and yet not a tangible weight at all, and a bit like fire, but not hot or burning in any way. Even now it is still so difficult to describe the energetic sensations of the Presence of the Holy Spirit as He overshadows me when I soak, but I spent a season learning what this felt like.
During the Watch I would lay down and God’s presence was always right there. Holy Spirit had been with us the entire meeting so far, and nothing changed. When I was home, however, it was different. I couldn’t sense His presence around me at all, at least not just by turning music on and laying down. Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, and others have had experiences where they simply ask Holy Spirit to come and He would, but this was after a period of cultivating a relationship with Him, so that when they asked Him to come, He would. I didn’t have that. So here’s what I did:
I began to cultivate.
An old family friend gifted me with a guitar, so I began to play the four chords I knew and looked up worship songs that exclusively used those chords. I made up my own. I spent usually an hour or more almost every day worshiping and soaking in the late evening, oftentimes falling asleep on the floor. What was the goal? I would worship until I sensed that the atmosphere in the room had changed to feel like it did when I was soaking on Friday nights. After I reached that point, I would then lay down and enjoy Holy Spirit’s presence in the room with me. Sometimes I would talk to him but usually I would just lay down and enjoy the sensation of Him on my body.
Gradually, over the course of weeks, it started to take less and less time to get to that point, until somewhere along the line I would just lay down and turn music on, and in under a minute, sometimes immediately, I would begin to sense Him drawing near. The Catholic monk Brother Lawrence described this in his letters The Practice of the Presence of God, but ultimately I had reached a point of just enjoying Him for Him, without asking for anything or interceding over the fate of the world. And while those things are good too, sometimes God just wants us to sit with him without deeper agenda, simply enjoying Him in simple pleasure.
I didn’t understand until recently that a large part of soaking is simply enjoying Him, but as we spend time in God’s presence He changes us as well. His essence infuses us with His nature–his joy, peace, and other fruit of the spirit. His voice sometimes becomes easier to hear, and oftentimes soaking is a good opportunity to expect and practice visions, spirit travel, and other visionary experiences. While there are other benefits, in the end its about drawing near to God, and as we do He draws near to us (James 4:8).
When I began I was impatient, and was afraid it would take years for me to cultivate that instant-presence appearing to me. But God is good and kind and isn’t interested in forced labor to be able to engage Him. It didn’t take years, or even months, and if you have never done this before and want to get started, it won’t take you that long either. You might even just try asking Him to come surround you and fill you, and He may come right then. If not, spend some time cultivating his Presence in worship or prayer, and as you do, God will reward you with the best gift ever–Him.