My first introduction to the Holy Spirit was kind of odd. In late 1986, while living with my in-laws in Memphis Tennessee, I attended a Pentecostal church with my sister in-law. It was a wild "swinging from the chandeliers" type Pentecostal church. I remember thinking, "This is a lively group!"
I remember wondering why all my emotions would go wacko when I was in that church. I would cry with joy and I didn't know why. Why was I crying and why was I so full of joy every time I attended that church?
Members of the congregation often prayed in tongues. Even the way I responded to that was odd. I didn't have a clue about what tongues were and I never asked to find out. I thought that tongues were odd but I didn’t judge the people who spoke in tongues and I didn’t desire to do so myself.
I loved that church and missed it terribly when I moved away from Memphis.
It wasn't until 1991 that I had another encounter with the Holy Spirit. I began to attend a Charismatic church with a friend. I hadn't regularly attended a church for many years. This church was awesome. It was lively like the church in Memphis. The people that attended this church also prayed in tongues like those in the church in Memphis.
This time I was curious enough to ask my friend about this odd language. He told me that it was the Holy Spirit praying through the people. He also said that people don't always know what to pray about, but the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray. So when we allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us, we are (with the Holy Spirit's help) praying the perfect will of God (Rom 8:26-27). I didn't really understand but I didn’t reject what he told me either. I pondered it, desiring to understand.
The pastor taught a lot about being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t reject this teaching, probably because I knew very little about religion and the Bible. I was a clean slate with no formed doctrines and a sponge wanting to absorb all I could out of the Bible and the church. The Bible had lot of scriptures from Jesus and Paul about being filled with the Holy Spirit, so how could I reject it even if it seemed odd to me?
It didn't take long for me to want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I asked my friend to teach me how. He said that all I needed to do was ask Jesus to baptize me in the Holy Spirit. He said, “It’s that simple.”
While alone one day, I asked, "Jesus, I would like to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Please baptize me in the Holy Spirit." I waited a moment, trying to feel something but nothing happened. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on with the day.
Then next time I saw my friend, I told him that nothing happened when I asked the Lord to baptize me in the Holy Spirit. My friend asked where my heart was when I asked. He said that I had to be sincere and serious. I thought about it and…"Yeah, my attitude was a bit flippant at the time when I asked," I said. It was as if I had said, "Okay, I am ready. Give it to me."
Then it happened! The night I got baptized in the Holy Spirit was incredible! I was a bartender at the time, working in the quiet lounge of a family restaurant. That night there was a guy, severely depressed, sitting at my bar. We got to talking and I found out that his wife had just left him. He was very sad and drowning his sorrows in his drink. I don’t know how I brought the Lord into the conversation, but I found out that he was a "backslidden Christian" -- a Christian who had slipped away from God. He tried to justify what he was doing by saying, "I think God understands my drinking to try to numb the pain." I replied by saying, "God doesn't understand. God doesn't want you to turn to alcohol to cope with what is happening in your life, but God wants you to turn to Him." I said, "You can drink all night but when you wake up in the morning you'll have a hangover and less money, but your problems will still be staring you in the face." I kept going, "If you take your problems and pain to God, God will comfort you and help you get through this difficult time." He joyfully said that he couldn't believe that he was getting ministered to by a bartender. I encouraged him to get involved in a church where people would be there to encourage him, to spend time reading the Bible, and to pray. "God will get you through this," I added.
When I left work that night, I felt as high as a kite! I was so happy that I got to encourage someone in the Lord! While driving home, worshipping God with a praise tape, I thanked Him for that divine appointment. Then realizing that my "heart was ready," I asked the Lord to baptize me in the Holy Spirit.
I kid you not -- a feeling came over me like I was floating above my car's seat about a half foot! Of course that wasn't happening but that is the only way I know how to describe it. It was a feeling of peace, joy, weightlessness…euphoria! All I could do was say, "Thank You, Lord" repeatedly. It was an awesome experience and probably the first time in my life that I felt the tangible presence of God.
From that night forward my Christian life changed drastically. I had zeal to know God and His ways and His word and His power and His love -- EVERYTHING! I could understand the Bible so much better than before that night. Before that experience, the Bible was a mystery, but after that night, I could understand it in a way that I could apply it to my life. I was no longer afraid to share my faith in God with others that weren't believers. You couldn't keep me from attending church every time the church doors were opened. My commitment to the Lord went from being wishy-washy to being faithful and persevering. Twelve years later, I am still pursuing the Lord.
I didn’t pray in tongues that night for a lack of knowing what to do to allow the Holy Spirit to pray through me. I didn’t even try because I was so caught up in the experience. It was probably a few weeks or maybe even a month or so later when I was driving home at 2:30 a.m. There was a car upside-down in a ditch on the side of the road with its headlights on. I probably wouldn't have thought too much about it if the headlights weren't on. But because of the headlights, I knew it must have been a recent accident. I started praying but I didn’t know the details of the situation. I prayed this way, that way, every which way trying to think of every possible scenario. Then I remembered what my friend had said about tongues…the Holy Spirit will pray the perfect will of God when we don't know what to pray. So, out of a state of panic I began to pray in tongues. When I got to my house and called 911, I found out that aid was on its way, which confirmed that it was a current accident.
I hope this testimony answered some questions you might have had about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it has stirred up questions you never had before. Most of the time when sharing different testimonies, I go into a teacher mode writing out scriptures to back up what I say. I thought if I did that with this testimony, it would be too long and cumbersome. I can provide you with several Bible verses on this topic if you are interested; and if I left you hanging in any area, please feel free to write to me with any comments or questions. There is a link to my email address at the top of this my website.
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