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Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Encouraging and equipping Christians for doing their part to help fulfill the Great Commission.

Introduction

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift of God which we can choose to receive after we become Christians (Acts 1:4-5, Luke 11:11-13), and the purpose of this gift is to empower every believer for being a witness of Christ to a hurting and unbelieving world (Acts 1:4-8, Luke 24:49). The usual outward evidence that we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not that we "feel" anything but that we are able to begin praying in tongues by the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of this article is to help you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it is my prayer that by the time you finish this article you will be speaking in tongues by the Holy Spirit as evidence that you have received the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit!

Speaking in Tongues

There are two kinds of speaking in tongues in the New Testament:

  1. When we pray to God in tongues we are praying in the perfect will of God because it is the Holy Spirit who is giving us the words to utter. The Bible calls this "praying in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:14) and "praying in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18), and in the New Testament this was the usual outward evidence that people had been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

  2. The other form of tongues in the New Testament occurred when a message was delivered from God to a congregation in an unknown language. This form of tongues must always be interpreted, and the message is delivered through a person who is operating in the "gift" of tongues.

After you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you might or might not operate in the gift of tongues, but you will be able to pray in tongues by the Holy Spirit!

When you pray in the Spirit, the words that you speak will come from your spirit and not from your mind. Some people find it easy the first time they speak from their spirits by the Holy Spirit, but many people will find that their analytical mind keeps getting in the way. Therefore, I want to offer some thoughts which may help you when you first try to pray in tongues:

  1. First of all, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. Don't expect Him to "take over" your mouth and force you to speak in tongues. The Bible says that on the day of Pentecost the disciples spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them the words to say. When you speak in tongues, you have to make the sounds even though you don't know ahead of time what those sounds will be. This is what makes it difficult for many people the first time they try to pray from their spirits instead of from their minds.

  2. You don't have to work up a bunch of emotion or whip yourself into a frenzied state of euphoria in order to speak in tongues. Some Bible commentaries give the impression that speaking in tongues was "an ecstatic utterance of sounds" which people in the New Testament made when they were in a euphoric state of worship. However, the weight of evidence in the New Testament does not support this view. Consider that when you praise God in English, it is up to you how much feeling you put into it.

    If you say, "Father, I give You praise in the Name of Jesus," you can say it in a quiet monotone with no feeling, or you can say it loudly with great emotion. It's completely up to you, and it works the same way when you pray in tongues. You have complete control over the amount of feeling or emotion you choose to speak with. You can also sing in tongues if you wish:
    "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." (1 Corinthians 14:15)

    It is completely up to you how much feeling you put into it, but don't expect any particular feeling to "come over" you.

  3. Every language is made from a bunch of individual sounds. If you read this sentence slowly out loud, giving equal weight to each syllable, you will see what I mean. Every language is just a bunch of mixed-up syllable sounds, and when you speak in tongues you will simply be making some mixed-up syllable sounds that make no sense to you. This is why speaking in tongues is an act of faith and trust in the Holy Spirit.

  4. When you speak in your native language, the words come from your mind and you say them out loud with your mouth. However, when you pray in the Spirit the words do not come from your mind, they come from your spirit as the Holy Spirit gives them to you. As the apostle Paul said, he prayed with his spirit, but he also prayed with his mind:

    "I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." (1 Corinthians 14:15)

    When Paul prayed with his spirit (when he prayed in tongues), he was not using his mind. His mind was unproductive and unfruitful because it was not doing anything as he spoke in tongues:

    "For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive - bears no fruit and helps nobody." (1 Corinthians 14:14, AMP)

    We know how to say things that come from our minds, but when we speak in tongues the words come from our spirits (by the Holy Spirit). This process bypasses our minds, and it is sometimes difficult at first for people to get their minds out of the way so that they can pray in the Spirit. Later in this article I will offer some suggestions which have helped people to get their minds out of the way so that they were able to speak words from their spirits. After you speak in tongues for the first time it will become easier to do it again and again whenever you choose.

  5. Sometimes people receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and they say a few syllables in tongues, but that's all they say. This is the equivalent of saying in English, "Jesus, I" instead of "Jesus, I love You, I worship You, I praise You." That is how it was with me. It was hard for me to disengage my mind and to let the Spirit give me the words to utter. Don't give up, though, because with practice you will learn how to keep your natural mind from interfering and you will then have a free-flowing prayer language. Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said that we would have streams of living water flowing from within us (John 7:38-39), so if you don't have a fluent prayer language then keep at it until it flows freely from within you.

  6. Your "prayer language" will probably sound different from other people's prayer languages, so don't be concerned if you don't sound like other people when you speak in tongues. It is up to the Holy Spirit to decide what language to use, so just relax and trust Him. Some people speak slowly and distinctly in tongues, while other people have a high-speed prayer language that almost sounds like stuttering. I heard about one lady who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but all she did was make "clicking" sounds with her tongue. One day while she was ironing clothes and watching Art Linkletter on TV, Mr. Linkletter introduced a woman from a remote African tribe who had a unique way of communicating. When the African woman demonstrated her native language, it was simply a bunch of clicking sounds. The lady ironing her clothes shouted out, "That's my prayer language!"

    Don't be concerned if you don't sound like other people when you speak in tongues, just relax and trust the Holy Spirit.

  7. Some people claim that speaking in tongues is of the devil. However, you can search the entire New Testament and you will not find any Scriptural support for this view. There is not a single passage in the New Testament where speaking in tongues is connected with the devil! The religious people in Jesus' day (the Pharisees and the teachers of the law) made a similar claim about Jesus, that He was operating in the power of the devil. Notice Jesus' reply:

    "But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:29)

    This warning may have been just for that generation of Jews (as many people believe), but the point is that we should be very careful that we are not accusing acts of the Holy Spirit as being of the devil!

    In order to keep things in balance, it's important to understand that when we seek the manifestation rather than seeking the Giver, we open ourselves up to possible demonic affliction. The Bible tells us that we need the power of the Holy Spirit for living a victorious and fruitful life which glorifies Jesus, and this is what we are asking God to give us. Speaking in tongues is the Scriptural evidence that we have received this gift, but speaking in tongues is not the thing that we are seeking.

    The Bible says that Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, and this article will show you how to pray to ask Jesus to do this for you. If you ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, then who is going to do it? Jesus is! When you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, who is going to give you the words to say in tongues? The Holy Spirit is! Trust Him!

  8. When you speak in tongues you are using a divine communication system as the Holy Spirit within you communicates directly with the Father, praying in the perfect will of God. As soon as you begin speaking in tongues, the devil will be right there, telling you lies to plant doubts in your mind. Here are a couple of the thoughts he will try to make you think:

    • "I don't believe that I was really speaking in tongues. That was just me making those sounds"

      The devil wants you to think that it was just you making those sounds, but it is supposed to be you making those sounds! Remember, the Holy Spirit is not a ventriloquist and He does not treat you as a ventriloquist's dummy. You have to step out in faith and make the syllable sounds yourself, trusting that the Holy Spirit is giving you the words that He wants you to utter.

    • "I thought I was supposed to receive power, but I don't feel any power!"

      The devil wants you to focus on your feelings rather than on the truth of the Word of God. Jesus never said that you would feel any power, He said you would receive power! (Acts 1:8). Put your faith in the Word of God, not in your feelings. When you speak in tongues it is the outward evidence that you have received the power of the Holy Spirit for living the supernatural Christian life that God intends for you. You now have the power of the Holy Spirit within you, but the Bible never says that you will feel anything. Our beliefs and actions should be based on Biblical truth, not on our feelings.

 

How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

After you become a Christian, you have the right to ask your heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit:

"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."" (Acts 1:4-5)

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)

Notice what these passages say about how to receive the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: We simply have to ask for it!

Now that you are a Christian, you can ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said, "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:8). Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, so let's ask Him to do that right now. Keep in mind this important point, though. We are asking Jesus for the promised gift of the power of the Holy Spirit for living the victorious life and for doing the things that God calls us to do for the glory of Jesus. We are not seeking tongues nor any other manifestation! Speaking in tongues is the result of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, it is not the goal.

Just as you received salvation by faith, you also receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith. When you ask Jesus to do this for you, believe in faith that you have received it:

"Lord Jesus, You said in Luke 11:13 that as a child of God I can ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. You also said in Acts 1:4-8 that I will receive power when I am baptized with the Holy Spirit. So Lord, I am asking in Your Name, the Name of Jesus, for You to baptize me in the Holy Spirit right now, exactly like on the day of Pentecost. I might not feel any different, but I receive the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit right now, by my faith. Thank You, Lord! Amen."

Now that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith (just as you received salvation by faith), let's take a look at some things that the Bible says about speaking in tongues. Notice that the Bible tells us to offer all of the parts of our body to God as instruments of righteousness:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)

"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." (Romans 6:13)

So the Bible tells us to offer all of the parts of our bodies to God. However, the Bible also says that there is one specific part of our body which we cannot tame, our tongues:

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:5-8)

Since the Bible says that we cannot tame our tongues, it is the only member of our bodies which we are incapable of fully offering to God as an instrument of righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit Himself who uses our tongues for righteousness when He utters mysteries directly to God through our mouths:

"For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit [or "by the Spirit," according to the NIV]." (1 Corinthians 14:2)

When we have been baptized (immersed) in the living water of the Holy Spirit, this event is demonstrated outwardly when the Holy Spirit prays directly to the Father using our tongues and bypassing our minds:

"For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)

Assuming that you have now been baptized with the Holy Spirit, you are now able to yield your tongue to Him to be used as an instrument of righteousness. The Bible calls this "praying in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:14) and "praying in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18).

In order to begin speaking in tongues for the first time it is usually helpful to praise God for a few moments in your native language so that your mind is in an attitude of worship. This often helps keep your mind from being too analytical as you begin speaking in tongues. Worship and love God out loud for a few moments from your heart, with a lot of feeling:

"Father, I love You! I praise You! I worship You! I love You with all of my heart!"

Now, in the same attitude of love and praise and worship, begin praising God some more but not in any language you know. Just begin making mixed-up syllable sounds that don't mean anything to you, trusting that as you do your part then the Holy Spirit will do His part. Give God lots of praise and love and worship from your heart, something like this:

"Ora ba cashay ha lamba sa dura hemene ro boso ...."

Some people will find it easy to speak in tongues for the first time, so if you are able to make a bunch of mixed-up syllable sounds, don't stop! Keep going for a minute or more so that your "prayer language" is flowing freely. Congratulations!

 

If You Did Not Speak in Tongues

If you weren't able to speak in tongues right away, don't worry! It feels silly or strange at first when you try making sounds that make no sense to you. Since you don't know in advance what you're supposed to say, your analytical mind wants to take over and analyze what you're trying to say, and this quenches your "prayer language."

Consider that we live in the "Information Age," and we are surrounded by many amazing scientific achievements (especially in the West). People in modern cultures often want things to be logical and rational and reasonable, they want things to "make sense," and they tend to want evidence and proof before they will believe in something. That's one reason why there are so many atheists, because they want proof before they will believe in God. Even in the Church there are many people who believe in evolution, for example, simply because scientists sound very convincing with their evidence.

Science and achievements of the mind are all around us in modern cultures, and there is nothing wrong with that. But have you ever noticed that when you hear about miracles taking place in modern times, they always seem to happen in some remote part of the world? Why is that? It's because other cultures are more in tune with spirituality, even if it is not a Christian spirituality. They are more open to the miraculous and to spiritual things than most people in the West are, because in the West we want things to be logical, and we want things to "make sense" to our minds, and we want to see evidence and proof, and so on. Christians in the West tend to be skeptical of the miraculous, even though the New Testament is filled with miraculous events. This is one reason why our analytical minds are so easily able to quench the words which we are trying to speak from our spirits.

In the Church, it seems that Christians are rarely taught anything about their spirits, or about how to listen to their spirits. If we tell people about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and they pray to receive it, they often have no idea how to speak words which are coming from their spirits. They only know how to speak words which come from their minds. Our minds are so used to running our lives that we don't know how to get out of our minds and get into our spirits instead. In the first century they did not have this emphasis on science like we do today, and we don't know what the apostles told the new Christians before they began speaking in tongues (such as the disciples in Acts 19:6). All we know is that Christians today tend to be clueless about their spirits, so they are clueless about how to speak words which are coming from their spirits.

Since our analytical minds are the problem, somehow we need to show people how to get their analytical minds out of the way so that they can speak the words which the Holy Spirit is patiently giving them. Therefore, here are some suggestions which have helped people to begin speaking in tongues for the first time after they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

  • Always remember that the Holy Spirit will not move your mouth for you and speak for you. You have to make the sounds.

  • Keep in mind that you will probably not experience any particular feeling or euphoria come over you as you speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues simply means that you are speaking in another language. When you say, "Father I love You, I worship You, I praise You," in your native language, you probably will begin to feel an attitude of worship, but you don't expect an ecstatic state of euphoria to come over you, right? When you speak in tongues it works the same way. You are worshiping God in a different language just as you worship God in your native language, so don't expect to "feel" anything different than what you feel when you are praying in your native language.

    Sometimes people laugh, sometimes people cry, sometimes people feel a tingling sensation or a sensation of electricity or a sensation of warmth which comes over them. However, there is not usually any particular feeling or emotion associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so don't try to base your experience on what you feel or don't feel. When you speak in tongues then you will have the outward evidence that you have received the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • It is often helpful to worship God in your native language for a few minutes so that your mind is on loving God rather than being in an analytical mode. Then you can begin making a bunch of syllable sounds while your mind is on loving God, and this may help prevent your mind from switching back into its analytical mode.

  • Another helpful thing to try is to count to three and then speak as loudly and rapidly as you can, but not in any language you know. As silly as it may sound, counting to three often helps people get over that "hesitation factor" so that they just jump in and begin speaking in tongues. In addition, speaking as loudly and as quickly as possible often helps bypass people's natural minds. When you speak loudly and quickly it tends to drown out your mind and keeps your mind from being able to analyze what you are saying. There is no reason to analyze what you are saying because it is in a language that you don't know, and therefore it won't make any sense to you!

  • Some people have found it helpful to begin slowly saying nonsense syllables and then increasing the speed until they are no longer thinking in advance what syllables to say next. When the syllables begin flowing freely then you know that you are praying in the Spirit:

    "ha ... may ... so ... ca ... shoramasendaylarambasohalocada"

  • Try praying in the Spirit as you do other activities, such as mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, washing your dog, and so on. As your mind is occupied with these activities it might make it easier to speak in tongues without analyzing what is coming out of your mouth.

  • Try speaking in tongues when you can't hear yourself very well, like when you have the radio turned up. This may help you to speak out loud without listening closely to the words you are saying and trying to analyze them.

  • When some friends at church (a husband and wife) explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit to me and led me through a prayer, I did not immediately begin speaking in tongues. They explained that the husband didn't speak in tongues at first either. What helped him was to sing "Amazing Grace" a few times and then continue singing it but without thinking about the words. This kept his mind occupied so that it would quit trying to analyze the speaking in tongues.

    I tried this in the car on the way home, but I couldn't figure out how to quit thinking about the words. I was trying to think about how to stop thinking about the words! However, at a stoplight I was finally able to quit thinking about the actual lyrics and I allowed myself to begin using nonsense lyrics, something like this:

    "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me."
    "Amazing blace how tweet the pound that claved a bletch la-halocada."

    Somehow that "la-halocada" part just slipped out, and it helped me understand how to allow more syllable sounds to "just slip out." That's what speaking in tongues or praying in the Spirit is, it's letting syllable sounds "just slip out" without consciously deciding in advance what those syllable sounds will be.

  • After I spoke in tongues for the first time, I still struggled for awhile because my mind kept quenching the Spirit by trying to analyze the words I was saying. I found that if I simply took a deep breath and let it out slowly while saying "Haaaaa" then it was easy to let some more syllable sounds "just slip out" as I was exhaling:

    Haaaa....sa shora ba....
    Haaaa....la rosa te mehene....
    Haaaa...koro ba lamba....

    After doing this a few times it was easy to get the tongues flowing and I no longer needed to use this type of "crutch."

    Remember that the purpose for all of these suggestions is not to force the Holy Spirit to do something. These suggestions are simply to help get our analytical minds out of the way. This helps us allow the words from the Holy Spirit to come out of our mouths.

  • When a toddler begins trying to speak, he makes some sounds that are actual words and some sounds that are just gibberish. As he practices speaking he becomes more and more fluent. Speaking in tongues works the same way. As you speak in tongues more and more, you become better at yielding your tongue to the Holy Spirit and you become more "fluent" in your prayer language. If you find yourself making the same sounds quite frequently, don't worry about it, just keep at it and it will begin to flow more freely just as a child's language flows more freely the more he does it.

    Just come to Jesus like a little child and make simple little sounds, keeping your mind focused on Him.

  • Sometimes it is most helpful to have someone who is experienced and successful at ministering the baptism of the Holy Spirit to take you through it, such as a pastor at a nearby charismatic church. This way you can hear what it sounds like when someone speaks in tongues (even though your prayer language might not sound the same), and the person can answer your questions and offer suggestions to help you speak in tongues for the first time.

To summarize, the two most common problems that prevent people from being able to pray in the Spirit for the first time are probably:

  1. Misunderstandings about how speaking in tongues works.

  2. The natural mind getting in the way. Speaking in tongues bypasses the natural mind, and this can be difficult for many people at first.

It is my hope and prayer that the information in this article will help you to overcome these problems so that you will have a free-flowing prayer language. This is all the evidence that the apostles needed which proved to them that people had received the power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore when you have a fluent prayer language then you can be certain that you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you as well.

 

If You Spoke in Tongues

If you are now speaking in tongues by the Holy Spirit then you have the same Holy Spirit power within you that Jesus and the apostles had! Speak in tongues often ("pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" - Ephesians 6:18), and use the power which is now in you. It was given to you for a purpose.





 

 

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