Posted July 20th, 2013 at 3:29 pmNo Comments Yet
BY REVIVALIST TODD BENTLEY
I believe that this year will be an incredible season to come up higher and go deeper in our relationship with God. His heart so desires us, His glorious church, to be in a place of intimacy with Him and to walk in holiness (Eph. 5:27). It’s time to come into the embrace of God, pressing into His heart of love and allowing Him to bring conviction of sin so that we can be cleansed and forgiven (1 Jn. 1:9). Wow! We’re on the way to becoming that pure, spotless bride that will be a trophy of His grace!
Therefore I want to begin this New Year by discussing how God birthed this ministry because the journey God took me on in this birthing process will release some valuable keys about intimacy and will help us experience the very heart of the Lord.
SOAKING IN GOD’S PRESENCE
What our ministry is today can be attributed to a period of three months that I spent soaking in the presence of Almighty God. It was a time of incredible visitation when I encountered God in what I call the glory liquid honey cloud of His presence. For about three months there was grace upon my prayer life where for anything from four to twelve hours a day, all I could do was lie and be still in His presence.
I called it soaking. All I was doing was positioning myself away from the clamor of everyday life and seeking God. Not that I wanted to. I began by praying in hunger, pressing in for the power of God to bring me revival. I kept saying, “Holy Spirit please come. God You said if I would draw near to You that You would draw near to me. You said if I would seek You and search for You with all of my heart I’d find You. God I am pressing in violently, aggressively. I’m not letting go.” It was a radical pursuit of God’s presence – crying out, seeking. I was desperately in search of the Lord and I was pursuing His glory. It was a time of holy hunger, a time of extreme anxiety. Mine was a holy desperation for Him as a person and I was determined to be deeper in His glory than I had ever been before. I wanted to experience His presence in way that I had never known and I purposed in my heart to have an encounter with Him unlike any other that I had had before.
I did everything that I could. I prayed in tongues for hours. I mean prayed! With praise, worship, intercession, supplication I would make my requests known to God. When I decided to pray an hour, I would pray an hour, and I was loud about it. I was pressing in and I wanted a breakthrough. I wanted God and I knew how to sense His presence but I was never satisfied with where I had been. I wasn’t content with what I had seen. I said, “Lord I want more.” And I pressed in. I was almost in a place of striving.
For me it became a model of prayer. I had previously learned how to pray in a way that I took myself out of the presence of God. You may ask how that is possible. The answer is that I had developed a routine – a schedule of what I called prayer. I had become comfortable with the way I approached His presence and I had developed a process of spending time with God. I was disciplined about it and spent a fixed period every day reading from my devotional Bible, and I had become regimented. In intercession I prayed in tongues 15 minutes, praised 15 minutes, worshiped for 15 minutes. It had become the duty of prayer and it was always the same. The fire was gone, the passion was gone, the newness was gone, the adventure was gone and the excitement was gone.
That was my condition as I cried out in holy desperation, hungry for God before I learned to soak. The three month long opportunity arose out of an accident I had while working in a lumber mill. I was pulling lumber off the green chain and stacking it in the mill. I had an injury and I was awarded compensation with time off work. I purposed in my heart that I was going to seek God in the same way that I worked every day. I made a decision that I was going to treat prayer like a job, eight hours a day. I decided that I would pray as I recovered from my injury.
That’s how I discovered soaking. I found it when I had this God-given opportunity for pressing in, reminding myself of God’s promise that if I would draw near to Him, He would draw near to me. In desperation I yelled, “God rend the heavens and come down.” And He did! He came down to show me that soaking is mainly quietness, listening and waiting.
QUIETNESS, LISTENING AND WAITING
I have found in my walk with the Lord more power and revelation in quietness than in anything that I’ve done in prayer. I’ve come to understand that there is a place in the spirit that I believe is the highest form of prayer. It’s the silent prayer of the heart. It’s the prayer of silence – contemplation and meditation. It is so high that most Christians never get there. They don’t get over the demands of the mind. They fail to learn how to silence the busyness of their minds and emotions so they can enter in to true communion and fellowship with the Lord through quietness.
In the church today we don’t understand listening prayer. We don’t understand soaking and waiting. There is an art in practicing the presence of God and exercising our spiritual senses. We need to learn how to enter into the rest of God. We don’t know what it means to be still and know that God is God. We don’t know what it means to wait on the Lord. These aspects of soaking were known by some of our ancient fathers such as Brother Lawrence.
During my three months of learning to soak I had very real encounters with the person of Jesus Christ which I will talk about later, but I’m going to switch gears now and begin my teaching about the art and benefits of soaking.
MEDITATION IS OK
Let me first share a thought with you quickly about the Christian contemplative tradition. The words meditate and meditation are in the book of Psalms and in other parts of the Bible. Meditation has been a practice of Jews and Christians for thousands of years and it pre-dates all the mystic New Age religions. Brother Lawrence, a Christian monk who lived from 1605 to 1691 is a well known example of a believer who “practiced the presence of God” while he did menial work in the kitchen of a monastery. Do not be afraid of meditation just because it is used by other religions. It is one of the most important tools to help us increase in wisdom and revelation. The Western Christian tradition of meditation involves thinking about, or using the imagination around a verse or a passage of Scripture. This is different from the Indian tradition of meditation which entails silencing the thoughts. In Christian tradition there is a place for silencing the thoughts and emotions, but it has been called contemplation rather than meditation. This is one of the unfortunate twists of semantics that has caused confusion when discussing the spirituality of the East and the West.
GOD MADE IT CLEAR
I learned from the lives of Brother Lawrence and Sundar Sing (the famous Hindu mystic who radically converted to Christianity a hundred years ago), as God began to birth my ministry into power. At the end of three months of waiting, basking, bathing, marinating, just beeeeeeeing in His presence I had a visitation of the Lord Himself. He stood behind me and every time I turned around to look at Him He would be behind me. I heard the Lord speak to me in an audible voice as a man speaks to a man. This is what He said. “Todd, tonight I will call you into the ministry. You will quit your job. You will no longer work in the saw mill. Tomorrow you will go to the nations. Tomorrow you will go to a city that you do not even live in. I will speak to the prophet in that Mother’s Day, woman’s conference. I will instruct her to call you out and lay hands on you, take up an offering in her conference and give it to you as sign that I have called you into the ministry today.” And then I had an open vision of everyone who was going to be healed in that service and I said, “God how am I going to get an opportunity to do everything that I just saw myself doing? I don’t have all that much relationship with this woman. It’s Mother’s Day. There is another speaker. It’s a women’s conference. I mean, how are You going to put this thing together?” He simply said “Tonight.”
I went to the meeting and in an hour, the power of God came on almost every woman in the room. The miracles began to take place. The leader announced, “The Lord just spoke to me. I am to take up an offering right now and lay hands on Todd Bentley. We are going to pray for him tonight and he’ll be in the ministry tomorrow.”
SOAKING AND MARINATING
Now I am going to share with you some thoughts the Lord gave me about soaking and what it means to soak. In Acts 1:5 Jesus says, “… you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Here’s an explanation of that.
Believe it or not there’s an aspect of baptism that has to do with dill pickles! The word “baptize” as it appears in Acts 1:5 is translated from the Greek word baptizo, which is derived from the verb bapto meaning “to dip. It contains the ideas of “dipping repeatedly,” “immersing,” “submerging” (as in sinking a ship), “washing one’s self” (bathing), and also “overwhelming” (see the KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon at crosswalk.com).
Nicander was a Greek poet and physician who lived around the year 200 B.C. He is credited with leaving a recipe for pickles and it contained the same Greek word that is used for baptism. The way Nicander wrote his recipe explains a lot about baptism. Here’s what he says:
The vegetable (a cucumber perhaps) should first be dipped (bapto) into boiling water, and then immersed (baptizo) in a solution of vinegar. There are two-steps in the process. The two verbs separately call for the plunging of the vegetables in the liquid, but the first is a temporary step and the second produces a permanent change. It’s the latter act, baptism that causes the vegetable to come out a pickle. We can therefore legitimately refer to being baptized as being “pickled!”
Now let’s consider marinating, as done to a nice juicy steak. The steak is so much improved when it’s marinated. After being soaked in sauce for a few hours it becomes tender and juicy. There’s a similarity between marinating and soaking in the presence of the Holy Ghost. Let’s learn how to marinate in the Holy Ghost’s sauce. That means to be in His presence with no thought of self, resting in His glory and letting Him, well, pickle us! Godly pickling takes time, maybe weeks. We may have to soak for a long time before we’re really tender.
Another culinary connection is with wine. It improves by staying a long time in the cellar.
These word pictures may help you to understand the meaning of the biblical encouragement for baptism. The word of God is really saying, “Come and be dunked in the river of My presence again and again! I want to immerse you, submerge you and overwhelm you with My presence. I invite you to stay with Me until you’re so changed, that nobody recognizes you when you come out.”
God wants to pickle all of us. I’m eternally glad that God pickled me when I soaked in God’s presence for months. I came out saturated with the Holy Spirit and His power so that I was no longer the man I used to be. Pickling transformed me. I went in a cucumber, and came out a dill.
Here is something else the Lord taught me. Ps. 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The word ‘still’ means ‘idle, quiet and alone.’ In this verse the word ‘know’ takes several phrases to explain the full meaning: ‘come to know by experience,’ ‘perceive,’ ‘find,’ ‘see,’ ‘be made known,’ ‘become known,’ ‘be revealed’ and ‘cause to know.’
The Psalmist David was the master of the Selah. That word indicates a rest. Every time in David’s Psalms that you see Selah, you can envisage that he went into a silence of the heart and mind. Then revelation would come and he would write some more. I think he used it as a means of divine listening. In the same way I came to understand the anointing of God, the power of God and His miracles. I gained a comprehension by lying in His presence in stillness and quietness. I received a greater revelation of who He is as I meditated on His words, “Be still and know that I am God.” In stillness God said to me, “I release to you the revelation of who I am and I cause you to know, I cause you to see, and I reveal Myself in the stillness.”
YOU TRY IT
Revelation is in stillness. In Psalms 106:15, the Bible says that God put a wasting disease in the soul of His people. He called it leanness of the soul. You know what a lean soul is? It means there’s no power, no revelation, no word of the Lord, no revival. God put leanness in the soul of His people because they did not wait for His counsel (v.13). The Hebrew word that translates into ‘wait’ in this verse contains the idea of waiting in hope and expectancy. It’s waiting with an expectation, waiting as if you are going to see something.
That’s how I was as I learned to soak. I was waiting with my mind and thoughts on Jesus. I was waiting with music playing in the background. All my attention was on Jesus. If my mind began to wander I pulled it back in.
I invite you to try it for yourself.
Father I thank you for men and women reading this teaching who are hungry for your manifest presence. I ask You, God, to motivate those who are not hungry. Give them a holy, desperate hunger for You. Lord we want you to catch us all and fill us with Your glory. We want the heavy intense presence of You to saturate us. Father right now I am asking for the anointing that I call soaking. I ask that You would bring upon every one of us a heavy weight of glory. Enable us to bask, bathe, marinate, pickle, soak and drink in Your presence in Jesus’s name. Amen!