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How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit


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 overwhelming Scriptural evidence for these statements can be found in my article called The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so I won't repeat all of the proof here.

The purpose of this article is to show you how to 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! This doesn't mean that speaking in tongues is the only outward evidence, but my article called The Baptism of the Holy Spirit shows that speaking in tongues was the common outward sign in the New Testament that people had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.


Speaking in Tongues

In my article called Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues I explained that 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 "pray[ing] in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:14) and "pray[ing] in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18) and "pray[ing] with my spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:15), 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 happens when a message is 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 have the ability to pray in tongues by the Holy Spirit.

When you pray in the Spirit (i.e. pray in tongues), 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 might help you when you first try to pray in tongues:

  1. Don't expect the Holy Spirit 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 must make the sounds even though you don't know in advance what those sounds will be. This is what makes it difficult for many people the first time they try to pray from their spirits.
  2. You don't need 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 (see my article called Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues). Consider that when you praise God in your normal language, 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 can control the amount of feeling or emotion that 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 spoken language is made up of 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. So every spoken language is really just a bunch of syllables, and speaking in tongues simply means that you are saying some syllables 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 normal 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, but instead they come from your spirit as the Holy Spirit gives them to you. This is why the apostle Paul said that he prayed with his spirit and also 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 (i.e. when he prayed in tongues), he was not using his mind. His mind was unproductive and unfruitful because it wasn't giving him the words to say 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 then 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 "bypass" their minds so that they were able to speak out the words which came 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 possibly the equivalent of saying something like, "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 speak. 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.
  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 comes from the devil. However, there is not a single passage in the entire New Testament where speaking in tongues is connected with the devil in any way (I invite you to see my article called Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues, which examines every New Testament passage on speaking in tongues). 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)
    We should be very careful not to accuse the power of the Holy Spirit as being from the devil!
  8. 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 usual Scriptural evidence that we have received this gift (for proof, I invite you to see my article called The Baptism of the Holy Spirit), but speaking in tongues is not specifically 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, then who is going to give you the words to say in tongues? The Holy Spirit is! Trust Him!
  9. When you begin speaking in tongues, the devil might start telling you lies in order to plant doubts in your mind. Here are a couple of thoughts that you might find yourself thinking:

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

      The devil wants you to be confused 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. Instead, you must step out in faith and make the sounds yourself, trusting that the Holy Spirit is giving you the words that He wants you to speak.
    • "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 focusing on the truth of the Word of God. Jesus never said that you would feel any power, He said that 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 will 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. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to you after you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but you will need to learn how to use that power by faith (more on this later).

How to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

First of all, if you're not sure that you are truly a Christian and going to heaven then I invite you to read my article called How to Be Certain That You Will Go to Heaven.

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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)
Notice what Luke 11:13 (above) says about how to receive the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: We simply need to ask for it! Remember, we don't receive salvation by asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit, so Luke 11:13 (above) is not talking about receiving salvation. It's talking about receiving the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, above).

So if you are a Christian, you can ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit (e.g. Mark 1:8), so why not ask Him to do that right now? Remember, you 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 you to do for the glory of Jesus. 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 (just as you believe in faith that you have received salvation).

If you're ready to receive the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit right now ... if you're hungry for all that God wants you to have ... if you're eagerly desiring it ... then ask Him for it right now. Here are some things that you can pray, but pray them sincerely, from a hungry and grateful heart:
"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 You to baptize me in the Holy Spirit right now. I might not "feel" any different, but I receive the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit, by faith. Thank You, Lord! In Jesus' Name, 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 the parts of our body to God as instruments of righteousness, as a spiritual act of worship:
"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 our body to God. However, the Bible also says that there is one specific part of our body which we cannot tame, our tongue:
"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 the tongue, it is the one member of our body which we are incapable of fully offering to God as an instrument of righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit Himself who uses our tongue for righteousness when He utters mysteries directly to God through our mouth:
"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 confirmed outwardly when the Holy Spirit prays directly to the Father using our tongue and bypassing our mind:
"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)
If you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you are now able to yield your tongue to the Holy Spirit to be used as an instrument of righteousness. The Bible calls this "pray[ing] in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:14) and "pray[ing] in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18) and "pray[ing] with my spirit" (1 Corinthians 14:15).

In order to begin speaking in tongues for the first time, it is helpful to praise God for awhile in your normal language so that your mind and heart are 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 awhile from your heart, with a lot of feeling, until your heart and mind are genuinely focused on worshiping Him:
"Father, I love You! I praise You! I worship You! I love You with all of my heart! I exalt the Name of Jesus! I love You, Lord! You are good! I praise Your Name! ..."
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 speaking out syllables, 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 ca-shay ha lamba sa dura hemene ro boso ...."
This is not something which you need to repeat, it is simply one of the phrases that I said when I first began praying in tongues.


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 speaking out a bunch of 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). We find ourselves wanting things to be logical and rational and reasonable, and we tend to want evidence and proof before we 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. But have you ever noticed that Christians are rarely taught anything about our spirit, or about how to listen to our spirit? So 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 out words which are coming from their spirit. They only know how to speak out words which come from their mind. Our mind is so addicted to running our lives that we don't know how to get past our mind in order to hear from our spirit. Notice that if we only pray with our mind then we're just doing half of what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 14:15 ("I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind"). In the first century they did not have such an emphasis on science like we do today, and we don't know what the apostles might have explained to the new Christians before they began speaking in tongues (such as the disciples in Acts 19:6). But unfortunately, Christians today tend to be clueless about our spirit, so we are clueless about how to speak out words which are coming from our spirit.

Since our analytical mind is the problem, somehow we need to show people how to get their analytical mind out of the way so that they can speak out the words which the Holy Spirit is giving them in their spirit. Therefore, here are some suggestions which have helped people to begin speaking in tongues 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 must 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 normal 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 normal language, so don't expect to "feel" anything different than what you feel when you are praying in your normal language.
  • Try praying in tongues while you do various activities, such as mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, washing your dog, and so on. When your mind is occupied with these activities, you might find that it becomes easy to speak in tongues without analyzing what is coming out of your mouth.
  • Consider that when a toddler is learning to speak, some of the sounds that he makes are actual words and some are just gibberish. As he practices more and more, he becomes more and more fluent. Speaking in tongues sometimes works the same way, in the sense that as we speak in tongues more and more, we become better at yielding our tongue to the Holy Spirit. 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.
  • After I spoke in tongues for the first time, I still struggled with it for awhile because my mind kept quenching the Spirit by trying to analyze the words that I was saying. I found that if I simply took a deep breath and let it out slowly ("haaaaa") then it was easy to let some syllables "just slip out" in a whisper as I exhaled:
    "haaaa....sa shora ba...."
    "haaaa....la rosa te mehene...."
    "haaaa...koro ba lamba...."
    That's what speaking in tongues is, it's letting syllables "just slip out" without knowing in advance what they will be. I did this for a few days, and then my mind was no longer analyzing what I was saying so the tongues came out more easily.

    Notice that this has nothing to do with the New Age practice of "breath prayers," in which a person repeats a word or a sentence with each breath in order to achieve an altered state of consciousness where his mind is totally empty (see Breath Prayer Offsite Link). In my suggestion above, there is no repeating of words because speaking in tongues involves speaking different words (the "haaaa" is not a repeated word, it's just a way to indicate that air is coming out of your mouth, which is necessary in order to speak). The goal of New Age "breath prayers" is to silence your mind and achieve a mystical state of consciousness. The goal of my suggestion is simply to get air coming out of your mouth because you must make the sounds of speech, not the Holy Spirit. The words come from the Holy Spirit but they must be spoken by you, which means that you must begin the process of speaking before you know what you're going to say! Therefore, my suggestion is intended to help you begin the process of speaking so that the Spirit's words can slip out of your mouth. You'll find that you can speak in tongues while reading, working, driving, playing, etc., because there is no "emptying the mind" involved with tongues.
  • Sometimes it is helpful to find someone who is experienced at ministering the baptism of the Holy Spirit (such as a pastor at a nearby non-denominational or charismatic church), and ask that person to take you through it.

Conclusion

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift of God which we can choose to receive after we become Christians, and the purpose of this gift is to empower us for our ministries. The usual outward evidence that we have received this baptism is that we are able to begin praying in tongues by the Holy Spirit. This doesn't mean that speaking in tongues is the only outward evidence, but speaking in tongues was the common outward sign in the New Testament that people had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

After you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, you might or might not operate in the gift of tongues, but you will have the ability to pray in tongues by the Holy Spirit.

The two most common problems that prevent people from being able to pray in the Spirit 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 at first.
When you are able to pray in tongues by the Holy Spirit, this demonstrates that you have received the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit. Now go out and use that power to lead people to Jesus! For example, the articles in my Healing Ministry will show you some things that you can say and do to begin seeing amazing healing miracles for the glory of the Lord.

Pray in tongues often, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through your mouth. Ask for the interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:13), and see what the Spirit reveals to you!


All for Your glory, Lord Jesus!
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 11/16/2007 - Removed several suggestions in the section called "If You Did Not Speak in Tongues" because they were confusing to people. Added a comment about "breath prayers." Added a "Conclusion" section. Added a link to my article called "How to Be Certain That You Will Go to Heaven." Added a link to my Healing Ministry.
  • 11/11/2003 - Added several paragraphs in the section called "If You Did Not Speak in Tongues" to explain why our analytical minds get in the way so easily, which can hinder people from being able to speak in tongues for the first time.
  • 10/11/2001 - Added some links to my articles called "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and "Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues."