‘Jesus died and rose again so we could have a new life and a relationship with God’
I remember saying this line many times throughout my early days of ministry. Then one day in 2003 I realised I was not completely living in the truth of what I preached. In that moment, God gently brought me to the realisation that I was a hypocrite. It is never comfortable when God disciplines us, but it is mostly gentle and always leads to freedom and new life.
I realised I was not fully enjoying a relationship with God. I attended, I lifted my hands in worship and I spoke about new life but was this a ‘relationship’? Was I experiencing all that Jesus won for me? Do you know it is possible to be a Christian but not fully come into the inheritance that Jesus has won for us through His life, death and glorious resurrection?
I decided there must be more to being a Christian and that I wanted the ‘more’ God offered; I wanted relationship with Him. I was done with cheap religion and empty talk…I wanted to be someone who didn’t just know things about God, but I wanted to truly know Him and walk with Him. I spent around 6 months in my mid-20’s praying, seeking and crying out for more. In the beginning of 2004, I attended a six-day church conference that radically transformed my relationship with God. I came back hungry, passionate and alive in Jesus. I began to see more fruit in my Christian walk. I felt more aligned with my renewed identity in Jesus. I came back knowing that the Father welcomed me home and wanted relationship with me. I knew that it was possible to walk with God and hear His voice. It was possible to know tangibly His nearness and love. I was able to live vitally united with Him.
Like me, you have probably experienced a post-conference spiritual high. Moreover, like me you have learnt how easily those experiences fade and can be ‘lost’ just a few weeks later. One of the best things I learned in the years following was soaking and contemplative prayer. Actively pursuing these disciplines has sustained my spiritual growth. Soaking prayer has been one of the most wonderful ways I have continued this closeness and relationship with God. It has been in this place of prayer and rest that I have been learning how to hear God’s voice. I hope my words will encourage you to pursue a closer walk with God. He really does want to draw close to you and share His heart with you (Ephesians 1:17-19).
A relationship with someone takes time, communication, closeness, intimacy. Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive”. We are often very good at the asking, but not as well at pausing to spend time in God’s presence. After we finish asking, do we ever wait and receive from Him? Prayer is a dynamic conversation with almighty God but if we are doing all the talking, it just becomes a one-way conversation. Soaking/contemplative prayer is a time set aside to listen, pause and rest in His presence and receive. God is calling us all into a deep, intimate relationship where we can know Him and learn His thoughts and receive fresh revelation and infilling of His Holy Spirit.
Here are a few steps to help you start soaking in God’s presence:
- Find a comfortable place. Surrender yourself to the Lordship of Jesus (Romans 12:1)
- Open your heart to the Lord, relax and be still (Psalm 46:10a). Write down any thoughts that distract you.
- Listen to worship music and invite the Holy Spirit to fill you.
- Focus on the Lord’s presence. Rest in faith, believing He is working in you (Hebrews 11:6)
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38