Soaking in the Secret Place:
If we want to go deeper in prayer, we need to learn how to soak in the secret place of His presence. I first learned about soaking from a missionary named Heidi Baker. She and her husband Rolland began Iris Ministries in 1980 and are currently serving the Lord as missionaries in Mozambique. I attended a Signs and Wonders conference where Heidi was speaking in 2000. I was forever wrecked for ordinary living after being inspired by her testimony and the testimony of another young fiery evangelist who spoke there.
When I talk about soaking, I am using an analogy to try to explain what happens in the secret place of prayer. Soaking by definition means to lie in and become saturated or permeated with water or some other liquid.[i] If you were to take a sponge and immerse it in a bowl of water, it would become totally saturated with that liquid. Imagine the cool refreshing experience of standing under a cascading waterfall. Soaking in the secret place means to go into our prayer closets with no other agenda than letting Jesus pour out His love. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5). God wants to saturate us with His love.
In the Bible, God’s presence is often described as water, floods, and rain. God has promised: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” (Isaiah 44:3). What does it mean to soak in the secret place? It means to cry out for the Lord to pour out His love upon us. It means getting hungry and thirsty and desperate for more of God in our lives. It means going into the secret place of prayer, lying down, and letting Him love on us.
“Lie down so that He can trust you with everyone. Then when you get up there is revival – when whole nations come to Him, falling on their faces. He changes us with one glance of His eyes, so that we are not afraid to be completely abandoned in His arms. Many want lots of power and anointing, but when you just lie down and let Him kill you, it’s a good thing. He wants to love you to death… All fruitfulness flows from intimacy… I’ve seen His face. One glance of His eyes and you’re wrecked forever… He’s calling out radical servant-lovers. He’s breathing His life into His sleeping Church. His lovers will carry His presence.”[ii] (Heidi Baker).
The concept of soaking in God’s presence is more commonly understood in terms of another word picture used by Jesus Himself – abiding in the vine. Jesus said:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5).
That word abide comes from a Greek word, meno, that means to remain, abide; to sojourn, tarry; not to depart; to continue to be present; to be held, kept, continually.[iii] Jesus is calling us to remain in Him, to not depart from the place of prayer, but to continually be present with Him by practicing His presence. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7). This is what Heidi Baker was talking about when she said that fruitfulness flows from intimacy. As we spend time soaking in the secret place – abiding in Jesus in prayer – we become fruitful, and we receive answers to our prayers.
Samuel in the Secret Place:
There’s a great story in the Old Testament that illustrates the concept of soaking in the secret place.
“Then the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel…” (1 Samuel 3:1-4a).
Samuel was a young boy who heard God’s voice. In his generation, God’s Word was rare – there were no revelations or open visions. People weren’t hearing the Word of the Lord. But notice where Samuel was when God began to reveal Himself to him – he was lying down where the ark of God was. “It should seem he lay somewhere so near the holy place that he went to bed by that light, before any of the lamps in the branches of the candlestick went out (for the main lamp never went out), which probably was towards midnight. Until that time Samuel had been employing himself in some good exercise or other, reading and prayer, or perhaps cleaning or making ready the holy place; and then went softly to his bed. Then we may expect God’s gracious visits, when we are constant and diligent in our duty.”[iv] (Matthew Henry).
Samuel was near the ark of God was when the Lord revealed Himself to the young boy. The ark was a gold-covered acacia wood box that symbolized the presence of God for the Israelites. This tells us that Samuel was lying down in the presence of the Lord. He was soaking in the secret place of prayer. One of the most common places to hear the voice of God and to sense His presence is during prayer or worship. We “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4). What happened after Samuel heard the voice of the Lord?
“The Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down. Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.) And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:4-10).
If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to ask Him to speak to us. Some people never hear God’s voice because they never invite Him to speak. Samuel prayed, “Speak, Lord!” We also need to put ourselves in a posture of obedience and say, “Your servant is listening,” which is to say, “Whatever you tell me to do Lord, I’ll do it.” When we do this, we can expect to hear the voice of the Lord, and go deeper in our relationship with Jesus.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:14, msg).
Soaking in the secret place is fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This is one of the things the Apostle Paul prayed for the Corinthian church, that the communion, fellowship, or intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit would be with them all. So many Christians don’t know this intimacy with the Holy Spirit. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1). The Lord wants us to abide, dwell, and remain in the secret place of His presence.
When I was the youth pastor at Bible Fellowship, there was a season when I sensed the Lord calling me to go deeper into the secret place of intimacy with Him. I began to spend extended periods of time with Him in prayer, sometimes for hours at a time. My heart’s cry was, “God, I’m tired of the usual. I don’t want to play church. I want more of Your presence in my life. I want to know You more!” Psalm 63:1-4 became my theme Scripture:
“A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name”
When I would get into my prayer closet, I would usually put on a CD filled with Scripture readings and prayers set to music. I’d lie down on the floor and rest in God’s presence, allowing Him to lavish His love upon me. Sometimes I would put on a worship CD and pour out my heart before the Lord. Other times I would open my Bible and meditate on the Scriptures, usually the Psalms. I began to look forward to and anticipate these times when I would meet with the Lord, hearing His voice and enjoying His presence. I was wrecked for everything but His presence, utterly abandoned in His love.
During this season I discovered one of the keys to the fruitfulness of Jesus in His ministry. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” (John 5:19-20). Because Jesus spent time in the presence of the Father, He showed Jesus was He was doing, and that’s what Jesus did. He only said what the Father told Him to say and only did what the Father told Him to do. As I started soaking in His presence, God began revealing His plans and strategies to me. As I stepped out in faith and obedience, His blessing was upon everything I did.
I ministered at the Christ Church of Glory Chinese Church in Surrey, BC several years ago. Through an interpreter, I taught on the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and then prepared to minister healing to the congregation. The Lord gave me a word of knowledge, telling me there was someone in the church who had back pain. When I said that, my interpreter froze and looked at me and said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Of course I’m serious. I’m a preacher. Do you think I would lie to you?” He marveled, and said, “I have back problems!” I said, “Well, Jesus wants to heal you. Can I pray for you?” He answered in the affirmative, and as I prayed for him, I asked him to do something he couldn’t do before. As he stretched down and touched his toes, he found that he had indeed been instantly and miraculously healed by the power of God – praise the Lord!
Do you feel like you are in a spiritual wilderness? There is a blessing that comes to those who are in the desert. The wilderness speaks of hunger. When we’re in that dry and weary place, and we stir up our hunger for more of God, He will come to us. When we cry out for and seek God – not just for His blessings and the power – when we get hungry for God’s presence and get into the secret place where we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, what is the result? “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:5). The New Living Translation says, “You satisfy me more than the richest of foods.”
If there’s no satisfaction in your life, then it’s time to press into the presence of the Lord. In His presence, there is fullness of joy and peace. Have you lost the joy of your salvation? The Lord wants to restore that to you, and that will happen when you abide in Jesus. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).
What will be the fruit of spending time soaking in the secret place – abiding in the vine? You will discover a renewed passion for Jesus, a renewed vision for the harvest of lost and hurting souls, and abundant joy. You will be changed and transformed. You will hear God’s voice more clearly. My hope is that these Scriptures and stories would stir up a hunger and thirst for more of God in your life. Let’s be like Mary, and learn to sit at His feet:
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42).
Pastor Chris Jordan
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[i] soaking. Dictionary.com. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 11, 2010).
[ii] Heidi Baker, ibid.
[iii] The New Testament Greek Lexicon.
[iv] Matthew Henry, Commentary of the Whole Bible.