You hear a lot these days in the Church about “soaking.” Some people object to it because that term is not in the Bible. (Of course, a lot of things we do are not directly stated in the Bible. Sunday School, bus ministry, and electric guitar music, among others, are some examples.)
But the soaking concept is there – it’s all over the place. It’s in almost every book of the Bible, including 1 Samuel. You can see it in this familiar story:
“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’
“But he said, ‘I did not call, lie down again.’ So he went and lay down.
“The Lord called yet again, ‘Samuel!’
“So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’
“But he answered, ‘I did not call, my son, lie down again'” (1 Samuel 3:1-6 NASB).
Where did young Samuel lie down? Where did he sleep? He“was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was.” Little Samuel had been brought to the old priest Eli by his mother Hannah, and he lived there in the temple, ministering to the Lord and learning about God. At night, he lay down to rest near the ark itself.
And when the voice of the Lord was released, but Samuel couldn’t yet discern that it was God’s voice, what did Eli tell him to do? He told him to go lie down there again. He didn’t keep him wherever he was sleeping, and he didn’t send him somewhere else to do something. In essence, Eli told Samuel to go and soak up some more of God’s presence so he would recognize the voice of God when he heard it.
This is instructive for us. Like Samuel, we need to spend time resting in God’s presence, going back again and again, falling in love with God all over again. We can be changed, not just temporarily stirred up, by returning to our first love (or by finding that first love if we’ve never tasted it before). We can learn to recognize His voice and we can experience personal revival. Out of that renewal, we can obey the Voice as we minister. – James Goll