THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 2: INTIMACY
Why Soaking Prayer is Vital
The longer you can remain in that place where you are connecting with Jesus and have that awesome sense that He is right there with you – the more you’re being filled with joy.
Let’s face it – it’s not always easy. It’s often hard to get to that place. Your capacity for joy might only be shot-glass size. Your capacity might be a gallon! Maybe you can linger there with Jesus for ten minutes or longer. But maybe you are only able to focus for about two minutes, and then your brain is drifting off to other things.
What limits my intimacy with God?
The minute we start to get distracted, or our mind goes to something else, we’ve got to learn to really quiet our minds and our hearts. We need to learn to just be. So much of the time we’re on the go, we’re thinking about things, we’re juggling about five or six things all at once.
We need to learn to quiet the traffic in our mind and let those thoughts just settle down. We need to really learn to be at peace, to be still, to yield our minds to the Holy Spirit, to be still and know that He is God.
This is called soaking prayer, listening prayer. Contemplative prayer. This is how we connect in the Spirit. It is unlocking our sanctified imagination, so we can see and hear and feel and touch and smell and taste and know Him in the Spirit.
How will soaking prayer help me?
Intimately connecting with God in soaking prayer is a time of healing, of restoration, refreshment, and perhaps even new revelation.
You want the Lord to bring to you a particular joyful moment of connection. You want to remember a time when you were very aware of the presence of God – when you knew He was right there.
But maybe you’ve never had a moment where you were perceiving and connecting with the presence of God. If you don’t recall ever having an encounter like that, begin now!
Guess what? I think we all have a garden in heaven. So, it’s ok to say, “God, I want to go see my garden. What does my garden look like?” Or you can say, “Lord I want to go to a beach with You right now.” Just begin to activate your sanctified imagination – what would it sound like, what would it look like?
Notice the blue colors in the water. Notice the trees. Can you hear the birds? Can you hear the water? Begin to activate all your senses and just engage with God.
Now, I like to ask, where is God in this place? Can you see Him? Sense Him? Feel Him? Jesus was a man. He was as fully human as He is fully God. I like to ask the Lord to help me see Jesus. I don’t usually see His face, but I can get a sense of where He’s at, where He’s standing, how He may be holding me, or maybe I am leaning into His shoulder. I personally connect with Him in this place because it’s about intimacy.
Why is it so important to remember?
Let yourself engage in that place of refreshing memory. Linger there, remembering God. God told the Israelites, constantly, repeatedly, “Remember the Lord your God! Remember the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, who brought you out of slavery.”
And guess what they did? They constantly forgot! Over and over they forgot how God had delivered them from Egypt with astounding power, how He made a road through the sea, how He provided manna and water and meat in the wilderness, how their shoes never wore out. They constantly forgot God was with them – in the pillar of fire at night and in the cloud by day.
And what happened when they forgot? They descended into fear, into grumbling, into rebellion.
We’ve got to remember, and stay in that place of remembering. That’s why we do communion – to remember the Lord, and to remember His body and His blood. It’s important that we cultivate this place of intimacy with God and remember His presence with us.
And so, we take the time – remember, He’s outside of time – we take the time to be still, to engage. And when you’re in that place, you don’t even have to say a word. You just rest and just be for a while.
What about the other spiritual disciplines?
Yes! Feel free to do that. Go through your spiritual disciplines of reading the Word, praying through your prayer list, and all the stuff that the functional side of you needs to do. But don’t get so absorbed in those things that you forget to take time to listen to God. You need to be hearing what He wants to say.
“Lord, what are You saying to me right now? Who are You saying that I am? What does my spirit look like to You?” These are all great questions to ask. And sometimes we just need to sit in His presence. You know, we don’t always get answers to all our questions. Sometimes, it’s more hearing Him say, “I love you. I love you.” He knows we need to hear that more than get our questions answered. So just listen.
Why (and what) should I journal?
I really encourage you to keep a journal, so that when you have an encounter with God, you’re able to record what happened and what you saw. Write what He said, the word He gave. As you’re in that place, that time of quiet, of intimacy, of hearing – let yourself record whatever comes.
Don’t analyze it. Don’t bat it out of the way – don’t worry that you’re making it up. You need to use childlike faith and just be able to hear what’s coming and write it down. And yes, we test it. We test every spirit. It’s got to line up with His Word and with His character.
But rest and listen with childlike faith, knowing that if you ask for bread, He’s not going to give you a stone. Stay in that place of intimacy, of joy in His presence, being able to listen. And then just take a pen and paper and begin to record what He’s saying. And just write it! Don’t question it, don’t criticize it, don’t second-guess it – just write it until it’s done. And then you can go back and test it.
So…rest…and listen. Soak in the loving presence of God, waiting to hear Him speak. You are entering into His presence to form a stronger bond, a deeper intimacy. And from that place comes healing and refreshing and joy!
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