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.
[i] soaking. Dictionary.com. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 11, 2010).
[ii] Heidi Baker, Always Enough. (Chosen, September 2003).
[iii] The New Testament Greek Lexicon.
[iv] Matthew Henry, Commentary of the Whole Bible.