What is soaking prayer and is it biblical?

Soaking prayer is a practice by which someone typically lies or sits very still, often listening to music, prays simple prayers, keeps the mind clear of distracting thoughts, and waits on the presence of God. His presence is said to be felt by some type of physical cue, like tingling skin or feeling hot or cold. Once the person has that sensation, they "soak in" the presence of God by being fully present to Him.

At face value, this seems like a good practice that would bring someone closer to God. However, there are two things that should be cautioned about this form of prayer. First, we do not see an example of this in Scripture. Second, it is very close to a meditative state that is not biblical.

Let's start with the first: We do not see an example in Scripture. Prayer is our tool for communication with God and is modeled throughout Scripture by men and women seeking Him. We see people standing, sitting, kneeling, and lying down while they pray. We see hands lifted up, hands holding things and touching people, eyes open, and eyes closed. We see people praying out loud, mumbling to themselves, and singing praises. The variations in posture during prayer are many and varied. In all of these instances, the person is seeking God with purpose, specificity, and intent. What we do not see in the Bible are any stories of someone waiting to just experience God's presence.

When God chooses to reveal Himself to an individual or group, it is on His initiative, not on our manipulation of ourselves or Him. Looking for a special experience of God also goes against the biblical promise of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a seal on every person who believes in Jesus (Ephesians 1:13). It's as if we are saying that His promise isn't enough for our spiritual lives. He has given us everything we need to lead a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). We need not invent ways to feel closer to Him.

Now let's look at the second issue with soaking prayer: It is very close to a meditative state that is not biblical. Eastern spirituality and mysticism can easily encroach on Christian practices if we aren't careful. Many non-biblical forms of meditation and prayer include the concept of emptying one's mind from distracting thoughts. Emptying our minds is different than focusing on God and His Word in order to pray. Our minds are to be very carefully tended because of the influences that disrupt the truths that we find in the Bible. Acts 20:30–32 and 1 Peter 5:8 both warn about the need for constant alertness to the world and any ideas or thoughts that are not from God. First John 4:1, 2 Timothy 3, Ephesians 6:1–18, and 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 give similar warnings. The Bible also tells us that God intended prayer to engage our minds in order to align with His will (1 John 5:14; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 14:15). Emptying our minds and waiting for something to arrive opens us up to unbiblical influences no matter how mature in Christ we are.

Any experiential, emotional spiritual encounter must be aligned with God's Word and will through the Holy Spirit. Seeking these out purely for the feelings associated is not wise or needed in order to have God's presence in our lives (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The further danger is that if we experience a sort of spiritual high from something like soaking prayer, then we may continue to want that and only that instead of solid spiritual food found in reading God's Word daily, worship, and corporate prayer, which are all modeled and encouraged in the Bible.

Related Truth:

How can I come to really know God?

Why should I spend time alone with God?

What types of prayer are mentioned in the Bible?

What is the importance of daily prayer in the life of a Christian?

How are we supposed to pray?

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Truth about Prayer

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