The Lost Art of Lingering

Have you ever had a powerful prayer time with somebody and considered how much of your experience was your own faith or the faith of the other person? I have.

Lost Art of Lingering

Have you ever gotten stuck on a worship song or playlist for a few weeks and wondered what mighty men and women of God did before iPhones, iPods and MP3 players? Is the song just really anointed or am I actually anointed?

Ever been in a powerful corporate gathering where the environment was charged with hunger, gifted musicians and speakers, only to wrestle with maintaining your passion for God after leaving the event?

Ultimately, every spiritual encounter happens by the grace of God. Revelation and empowerment are the results of us receiving from Heaven, not from men. Despite these foundational truths, God does use people, gifts, songs, books and events as conduits into our life. These elements are true catalysts taking us to new heights and depths in our pursuit of Christ.

How can we fully capture the nutrients of invisible spiritual activity happening around us? How do we allow catalytic moments to become transformative agents that permanently mark us?

This article is NOT a comprehensive answer to these questions, but I do believe there is an ancient practice hidden in scripture that can help us to grow in the ways of God.

Before Joshua was leading the nation of Israel into the Promise Land he was Moses’ aide. We see him in this role in Exodus chapter 33, during a unique season. Exodus 33 is the season just before the implementation of the tabernacle, which would become a habitation for God’s Presence. In the meantime, Moses pitches his own tent outside the camp to meet with God personally. Let’s read the biblical description of what Moses did:

And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:8-11a).”

Wow… Moses still has one of the most historic relationships with God out of all the men and women of the Bible. Moses broke through into a dimension of knowing God the Father like few ever have. While this open heaven was in full operation, notice what the last part of verse 11 says:

“Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent (Exodus 33:11b).”

Joshua had a front row seat to Moses’ face-to-face encounters with God. He saw it all. Joshua had also gone up the mountain with Moses for his “40 days with the Divine” where God downloaded the Law and wrote the 10 Commandments with His Own finger (Exodus 24:13).

To say Moses was a spiritual catalyst in Joshua’s life would be an epic understatement.

Let’s give Joshua some credit though. He did NOT merely ride Moses’ coattails into the Promise Land. By the time the leadership baton was passed to Joshua he had his own revelation of God that parted waters and delivered God’s people long after Moses’ death.

What’s so significant about Exodus 33:11? Joshua didn’t leave Moses’ tent because he was too busy lingering in God’s Presence. When Moses had to depart from his time of worship and prayer to attend to his leadership duties, Joshua stayed behind to reach for what Moses had already attained.

Joshua didn’t make the mistake that so many of us do. Too many times we allow our moment of inspiration to distract our attention towards earthly things. The touch we receive from God only increases our infatuation with the sermon, the song or the person. Not Joshua. By the time Moses was exiting the tent Joshua was too distracted with God’s Presence to follow him out.

Let’s not forget that Joshua is Moses’ assistant, but it’s as if Joshua said, “Sorry Mo, I’m going to take an early lunch break with God right now and catch up to you later.”

Joshua was practicing the lost art of lingering. In our busy world we are often unaccustomed with the value of lingering in God’s Presence. To most, it can actually seem like a waste of time that is merely an excuse for being lazy.

Lingering in God’s Presence is not laziness, rather, it is the means by which we abide and bear much fruit.

When I’m listening to a new song that helps me to personally breakthrough in worship, I try to linger in that place with Jesus after the song is over.

After a powerful prayer time with an anointed man of God, I find it meaningful to wait on Him in reflection of what just happened.

After a dynamic church service has reached its conclusion, I find God often speaks more as I continue to seek Him without the band on the stage or the speaker on the microphone.

In all these examples, I was ushered to a new level in Christ with help from others, but the final destination was my Lord and myself.

Allow me to share with you Four Hidden Dynamics to Lingering…

1. Lingering Familiarizes a Foreign Dimension Through Cherishing.
When God is using an external element, as a spiritual catalyst in your life, it is because you are not acquainted with the level of anointing that is associated with that particular catalyst. Like Moses with Joshua, they have led you into a new dimension you could not have accessed by yourself. Therefore, it is foreign at first.

By lingering in these moments and not rushing on to the next thing, you’re attributing value and worth to your experience. This type of cherishing causes you to be less of a stranger and more of a lover towards the God you are now discovering. Understanding increases and ignorance diminishes.

2. Lingering Pulls an External Atmosphere Into Your Internal Reality

My internal reality was born into sin. If I’m going to grow and change I need Heaven to pierce through the veil of my flesh and invade my heart.

It’s not enough for me to see and taste more of Jesus. I need more of Jesus to get inside of me. As I close my eyes in silence I refuse to let my old thoughts and feelings remain. I hold them hostage while the newness of the Spirit fills me up until there is no more room left inside for the old man.

3. Lingering Moves You From Impartation to Activation

Impartation allows me to receive more faith, more vision, more conviction and more victory. Activation is the tipping point where I have new spiritual resources to minister to others with.

Think of the leadership activation that took place inside of Joshua as he lingered in the glory of God that Moses gave him access to? Moses was the vessel of impartation, but after he left the tent, Joshua prayed through to activation.

Next time God is moving, don’t just receive more, wait upon Him until He activates it inside of you. How do you know when it’s happened? Trust me, you’ll know…

4. Lingering Transforms You Into A Spiritual Catalyst For Others

Eventually, Joshua led the people of God to a level of inheritance that Moses only dreamed of. Moses’ ceiling became Joshua’s floor. Joshua had lingered long enough to be a catalyst for others now.

If you wait upon God long enough, you will find that you have more of Him then you can keep for yourself. Others will recognize the leadership on your life by seeking you out for help, counsel and prayer. Lingering will lift you to a new level.

In closing, I am thinking a of a recent Men’s Retreat I recently attended. For several days the spiritual desire began to build. I watched the Spirit of God touch more men then I can remember seeing in a long time. After the last night’s service was over, I couldn’t leave. All I could do is sit there and bask in God’s Presence. I had to linger as long as I could to give Him as much opportunity to change me as much as He wanted. Next time God is moving upon your life, don’t be in a hurry to switch the subject.

CC Image • Courtesy of Marc Taylor on Flickr

    Andrew Mason is the Small Groups Pastor of Real Life Church, a family of churches in the Nor. CA region. He oversees Small Groups and Assimilation. He is Founder of SmallGroupChurches.com, an online community of leaders dedicated to growing churches one small group at a time. Andrew resides in Sacramento, CA with his wife Camille and their two sons.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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