Today’s entry is a little wackier than the previous two. (I have my less-than-serious side.) I’d like to discuss the doctrines of soaking and my experiences with them. You didn’t know there were doctrines? Well, officially there aren’t. But after one gets the same advice over and over, it begins to sound like doctrine.
1.) Position — It’s best to be lying on your back on the floor, face up. For enhanced soaking, make sure you have a cute little pillow and a favorite soaking blankie.
I think it is probably a good idea to be face up. It’s easier to breathe that way. I don’t like to lie on the floor, for several reasons — it’s hard, my back hurts when I do it, and in Wisconsin in the winter, it’s too cold on the floor. The pillows with Winnie the Pooh or Tweety Bird on them are cute, but I’m not sure I need them. How they enhance soaking will be discussed in Point 3.
2.) You have to quiet your mind so that you are receptive to the Lord’s Presence.
I understand. I have encountered people who seem to be in a constant frenzy in their thoughts. It evidences in what comes out of their mouths. I’m not like that — unless I’ve had a l-i-t-t-l-e too much Dr. Pepper. So, perhaps my mind isn’t as unquiet as some people’s. But I have struggled with this, mainly because of the subdoctrines that go with it:
a.) You must empty your mind of everything.
Before you get your grundies in a bundle, I’ll agree with what you’re worried about: emptying your mind is a New Age/Eastern religious practice. But some people who soak say you have to do this. My mind does not empty. This may be a good thing. Who needs to be empty-headed? So, the other subdoctrine about having a quiet mind is much better, and hopefully won’t mess with anybody’s worries about New Age.
b.) You shouldn’t try to empty your mind. Instead, you should focus on Jesus.
I like this one better. Dennis Walker, a wonderful teacher we met in Peru, corrected the empty-headed soaking notion. He said the mind was never meant by God to be empty. (Aha! I thought so!) It was meant to be focused. (OK, focusing I am usually good at.) Focus on Jesus. (I like this.) Still, I have a hard time focusing for long, it seems. Some people said I must picture Jesus as He appears in Revelation 1. (OK, I did that. It lasted about 10 seconds. How much time must I try to visualize that particular picture of Jesus? I am not good at pictures. I cannot remember what I look like as soon as I leave the mirror behind — which isn’t all bad.) So, the getting-a-picture-of-Jesus thing isn’t working. Maybe I will try picturing Jesus blessing the little children instead.
Now, I know, some of you are still weirding out. You are thinking, “Red light! Red light! She wants us to picture Jesus in our minds! That’s visualization! She even said the V word (visualize)! New Age! New Age! New Age! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!” Sorry, I can’t help you. Your mind is not quiet enough to listen, even if I tried. Let’s just not worry about it. I don’t do well trying to picture Jesus, and you don’t want to, so let’s just not even bother to do it, OK? I think we can still get into God’s presence without this step.
On to the cardinal doctrine of soaking:
3.) It is A-OK to fall asleep while soaking.
We are told that falling asleep is part of soaking. We will have heavenly dreams while we sleep during soaking. I have a theory: the sleeping part of soaking is not prayer; it is a nap. I know I am way too practical, but I’m sorry. I do not feel spiritual when I fall asleep during soaking. I have just taken a nap, but I have not been praying. I have not had any heavenly dreams (most of the time), I have not had any revelations, and I have not felt close to Jesus. I figure it is the same as going to bed at night. I may have a God-dream when I go to bed, but then again, I may not. And I never tell myself when I go to bed at night that this is my prayer time. I would feel awfully foolish trying to convince myself and God that bedtime was prayer time.
(I could use this sleeping/praying concept to oh-so impress people, couldn’t I? “So, Lee Ann, how long do you pray every day?” “Well, I am one of those really big prayer warriors. I pray six to eight hours a day.” I wouldn’t have to mention that I meant that was how long I sleep at night, and wouldn’t I sound spiritual!)
Unfortunately, I always fall asleep when trying to soak, and I do it very quickly — within five minutes. When I wake up a half hour later, I mourn the lost time I could have been spending with Jesus, if I had been praying rather than soaking. Ah, well!
If you are into napping as part of your soaking time, that’s why the blankie and the Tweety Bird pillow are important.
4.) You have to have certain music playing in order to soak.
Did you know there is such a thing as soaking music? And it is very nice, too. Just stick “soaking music” in Google and you’ll find it. I like some of the soaking music in small doses. But after a short time, it really starts to bug me. It either helps put me to sleep, or it gets too busy and loud after a few tracks. But, this is OK if you regularly fall asleep during your soaking time, because you will not notice when it gets too busy and loud; you are already snoring. Do you want to know how I know this? I complained to a friend about some music she had recommended.
“Hey, Mary Sue, you know the Gonzales lady you recommended for soaking? Well, I like the first few tracks, but then she gets to wailing at the top of her lungs all of a sudden, and the only thing I can visualize is a wide-open mouth the size of Carlsbad Caverns about to swallow me.”
Do you know what she said? “I don’t even know what’s in the middle of those CD’s. I usually only get as far as the first couple of tracks, and then I’m out like a light, and I wake up about the time she’s on the last track.”
I prefer straight worship music to soaking music (although some soaking music could fall into the worship category). Tomorrow I’ll give my theory on why worship music works better for me.
Previous — Soaking Prayer Journey, Part 2
Next — Soaking Prayer Journey, Part 4
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