“While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the interior and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” “No,” they answered, “we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19: 1-2).
When I gave the Lord my “YES” at just 13 years old, that’s when my insatiable hunger for His presence and His word took over my whole life. I wanted to know the depths of God. I wanted to experience it, no matter how strange it looked, how it sounded, or how many people wanted to go with me. I just figured out that God is alive and well today, He’s wonderful, and He paid a high price for us to be together, and this love provoked me to search the unsearchable. I had to have Him. I had to know Him–all of Him–, and I realized it was impossible to know Him if I didn’t know His Spirit.
Paul explains this to the Corinthian church about the Spirit:
But just as it is written, Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.‘ For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding]. For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
Upon reading this verse for the first time, I was filled with wonder. This verse was like my mirror, showing me that I could know the depths of His heart but also exposing the striking reality that I didn’t know His Spirit. I was just like the disciples from Ephesus that Paul encountered in Acts 19, who had been baptized and had repented of their sins, knowing the power of the cross of Christ and His blood, but not knowing the power of His resurrection.
However, there is something interesting that happened when Paul confronts these disciples about their lack of knowledge of the Holy Spirit–something that took me by surprise. It says that “Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in [unknown] tongues (languages) and prophesying.” Here were 12 baptized believers who didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit, but as soon as Paul laid hands on them, they were “imbued with power from on high,” just like the disciples were when they waited for this Promise in the upper room. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and that He walked with throughout His life and ministry.
Jesus was fully God and fully man, but He submitted Himself to the point that He could do nothing without the Spirit and without first seeing what His Father was doing. This is the same power that transformed Peter from a man that denied Jesus 3 times to a man who boldly preached the gospel with signs and wonders and constant death threats hanging over his head. Peter was already a believer, but something shifted in him as soon as the Holy Spirit overshadowed Him so that anyone that was then overshadowed by Peter was healed, and when he spoke, the Holy Spirit began to overshadow others, and they would begin to supernaturally speak languages they’ve never spoken and prophecy the works and mysteries of God.
It seems that just like the Trinity isn’t complete without the Spirit, so is the believer not complete without the Spirit of God. It was Jesus’s prayer that He, the Father, and the Spirit would be One within the lives of everyone that would believe in Him; that they would be One in us just as they are One. Who are we to deny Jesus of His heart’s desire?
Contending for the Promise
When I first said “Yes,” to Jesus, I ravenously devoured every Christian show/conference/sermon imaginable. There was so much I didn’t know, and the more I read, watched, and listened, the more I realized just how much I didn’t know. One day, I stumbled upon a conference on a Christian TV channel where the man on stage would come down and start praying for people on the front row. He would lay hands on them, and they would fall. They would shake. They would cry. They would laugh. Some screamed. Some remained still. With some, I heard something like a strange language coming out of them. I was fascinated.
It looked odd, but from that day on, I told God that I wanted to know Him like that. Then I read all the stories in His word of normal people who had been touched by the power of God–Jews and Gentiles alike–and again, I told Him that I wanted to know Him like that. Every part of me yearned for it, and before I had any understanding, at first, all I prayed for was to be given the gift of speaking in tongues. I prayed for years, having not received anything from the Lord, but I kept asking. I kept seeking, and the more I studied His word, the more my prayer changed from “Give me the gift of tongues” to “Lord, give me more of Your Spirit. Baptize me with it. I want to be filled to overflowing!”
I would even remind Him of His own words, that He even said that “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13).
Admittedly, sometimes I would get frustrated, having prayed for all those years and seeing nothing come of it, but I wasn’t letting go of God until He blessed me, and the more I prayed, the more faith grew in me to believe that God would do this in my life.
The Days of Preparation
On what seemed like a regular day in 2015, I was driving home from the grocery store, listening to worship music like I almost always do. I was listening to the song “All Consuming Fire” by Misty Edwards–a song I’d heard a few times before. I was singing and worshiping along with her as she sang:
“All consuming fire
Your our heart’s desire
Living flame of love
Come baptize us
Come baptize us…”
Then the presence of God filled my car.
“One day, the nations will be asking me this,” I heard Him say, and I rarely heard Him speak at this point in my walk. I was undone. I felt the Father’s heart to fill the earth with His Spirit, knowing that God is just as eager to respond as we are to ask. We just have to ask.
The Big Day — My Personal Pentecost
At the time, the church I was attending was teaching about the gift of tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was really thankful for this, because I wanted more practical understanding of what this was, how many times it occurs in Scripture, everything Paul talks about regarding the use of this gift, etc. Then, the pastor, with sweat on his brow after about an hour of passionate preaching, paused and raised his fist in the air.
“LORD, COME BAPTIZE US!” He shouted.
The atmosphere shifted dramatically. My eyes were wide open as the atmosphere around me was now pregnant with the glory of God and the expectation that He was about to move. I was both excited and fearful. The atmosphere was so weighty that I felt as if I could’ve dropped dead right then and there. Heaven came to meet with me that day. It was the culmination of what I had cried out to God for, and it was finally here, and now that it was here, I wasn’t sure what to do.
Then, the pastor asked the congregation, “Who wants to get baptized in the Holy Spirit today?” I shot up from my chair and made haste to the front of the room. I knew the Lord was about to do something, and I was determined not to miss it.
Eyes closed, I felt two pairs of hands on my shoulders as these leaders began to pray. A couple of minutes went by, and suddenly, I felt something bubbling up quickly from the deepest part of me as I fell backward and burst into incessant laughter. The floodgates were opened, and the gush was so forceful that I couldn’t hold it in. Someone behind me caught me and laid me carefully on the floor, but I barely noticed anyone around me at this point.
There I was, on a cold, tile floor of an elementary school cafeteria (where church was typically held), laughing and now, fluently speaking another language that I had never heard before. I think the Lord knew that the only way to open my mouth was to get me to laugh; otherwise, I would overthink it like I had in the past and just suppress the move of His Spirit because I was too “in my head.” But something I noticed was that I didn’t use my head for this in any way whatsoever, which was a completely new way of doing things for me. As I lay there on the floor, laughing and with a new language flowing out of me as if I were a babbling brook, I was surprised that I could still think perfectly in English.
I remember having thoughts like, “Wow! God did it! He really did it! Thank God!” and later, “Man, I feel bad for the band. I think I’ve been laying here a while, and they’ve been playing this whole time. At least 15mins. I wonder when this is going to fade out, but I really, really hope it never does.” I was having an internal conversation with myself about what was happening, while externally, the Holy Spirit was having a completely separate conversation with the Father through me. It was both strange and exciting, and I loved every minute of it. It was truly “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8)
After a while, the laughter and the tongues began to fade, so naturally, I tried to peel myself off the floor. I was not successful. My physical body was rendered weak and powerless under the presence of God, even though I still had my wits about me. Physically, I was worse than someone trying to make the walk from the hospital bed to the car after waking up from surgery. I was worse than a drunk. If a police officer asked me to walk a straight line at that moment, I’m convinced I would not be able to complete the task, much less even stand up straight. “No wonder priests were hardly able to stand in the cloud of God’s glory in the temples of the Old Testament!” I thought to myself (2 Chronicles 5:14). The Hebrew word for God’s glory is Kabowd, which comes from the word Kabad, which means “weighty,” and my body was definitely feeling the weight!
It’s important to know that this experience with the Lord is not unique to me, just as it wasn’t unique to the apostles, the Jews, or the Gentiles of the Book of Acts. Not long after I had this experience, three of my friends had a similar experience and also started speaking in tongues, prophesying, and hearing the Lord’s voice more in general after having this experience. I’ve also met countless others who share the same experience with the Lord. All of them are bold, fiery, and tenacious people of God, and I’m so thankful to know them.
If you’re a believer and you’re not familiar with the Holy Spirit, I’d say it’s about time that you two got acquainted. He has emotions. He speaks often. He’ll direct you, convict you, teach you how to love and be like Jesus, and best of all, He’ll be your best friend for the rest of your days, even when you’re old and gray. One day, at the end of your race, you’ll get to meet this great catalyst of revival face-to-face, and what a glorious day that will be!
It’s time to start praying prayers we’ve never prayed before so we can be empowered by His Spirit to do things that have never been done before. Let our prayers increasingly become: “Lord, what you did with the apostles, do it through me! What you did in Your lifetime, do it through me! What heaven is doing now, release it through me!”
He will never say “no” if you ask for more of the Holy Spirit.
He’s waiting on you.
Are you ready?
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on AwesomeSierra