“You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced: with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him.”  -Acts 10:37-38

“I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.”  -John 14:12

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you already have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within you. He brought you into a new life in Christ, is growing your relationship with the Father, and is working to sanctify you and change your inward character with the fruits of the Spirit.

Receiving or being “filled” or “baptized” with the Holy Spirit as defined by Scripture does not mean you do not have the Spirit. When we use this terminology we are referring to those occasions when we specifically ask for the Holy Spirit to come upon us and equip or empower us for ministry.

It’s not about getting “more” of the Spirit, but about letting the Spirit get more of YOU.

There is no set formula for receiving the baptism or a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit – no step-by-step checklist to follow in order to be filled. But there are some guidelines that we have found helpful, which describe our attitude and posture before the Lord as we prepare to receive the Holy Spirit. These are ways we can cooperate with the work God wants to do in and through us. Think of them as stepping stones that help us position ourselves under the waterfall of God’s overflowing grace!

Thirst for “More”

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)  -John 7:37-39

Do you know what it feels like to long for a cold drink on a hot day? We must acknowledge a longing to go deeper in our relationship with God. Maybe your spiritual life has hit a plateau, or maybe things outwardly seem to be going well but you know deep down that there’s MORE. You’ve experienced a good life with God, but there’s a sense you’re missing out on life to the FULL. You ache for more closeness and intimacy with Him.

Your thirst can also come from an awareness of your inadequacy and inability to do the works of God in your own strength. You have a desire to build God’s Kingdom, but recognize you need His power working through you to accomplish anything.

Tell God about your desire for more. Use words from Psalms such as 42:1 and 63:1 to acknowledge and express this first step.

Expect God Can and Will Act

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  -Ephesians 3:20-21

We probably don’t experience much of the Spirit’s work in our lives because we honestly don’t expect God to do much! We have limited and tamed God by our fears, worldview, and lack of knowledge. So how do you increase your sense of expectancy? You can read the book of Acts and see the works done by the early disciples in the Spirit’s power, look into accounts of revivals, go somewhere the Spirit is actively moving, and recall experiences you’ve already had in your life that point to an act of God.

Repent of Sin

Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  -Acts 2:37-38

Please be very careful here. You do not have to be perfect or have reached some high level of sanctification in order to receive the Holy Spirit upon you for empowerment. You DO need to believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and be growing in the inward work of the Spirit. Confession and turning away from sin must be a regular discipline, as sin blocks our relationship with God. Samson and King Saul persisted in disobedience and unrepentant hearts, and God removed the anointing from them.

We turn away from our sin, from the work of the devil, from any association with the occult, and we turn toward God. We need to “walk in the light,” letting the Holy Spirit’s searching light pierce the secret places within us, and then confess, repent, and receive forgiveness.

Surrender to the Sovereignty of Christ

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  -Matthew 16:24

We must acknowledge that empowerment comes through God alone. Allow God to be God! He is on the throne, not us. He is in charge, and His will is going to be done. Surrender to His decisions, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life in whatever ways He chooses. It might be difficult to trust and follow Him when we are more comfortable being in control of ourselves, but remember He can see the complete picture as He walks along with us. When we fully yield to Him and to His purposes for our life, and give up the idea of doing anything through our own strength, He will honor our yieldedness.

Ask in Prayer

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if your 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, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  -Luke 11:9-13

Having the Spirit fall upon us for power is something we can intentionally ask for in prayer. It doesn’t matter what words are used, but what does matter is the intent of the heart. This can be done alone, or a biblical model includes the laying-on of hands by others. The first time of asking may be described as an initiation or initial baptism into the power of the Spirit, but we can ask to be filled for empowerment many times, as often as needed.

Receive in Faith

“For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  -Mark 11:24

The infilling of the Holy Spirit is not a matter of our feelings, emotions, or experience. We know it is God’s will and intention for us to be made useful in His kingdom, and so we ask, then trust and believe in faith that we have received.

Isn’t that good news? That we don’t have to feel anything or experience a reaction to know something is true? It is true because God said it is! We know He hears and responds to us! Give Him thanks and praise for fulfilling His promises to you.

Act in Obedience to the Holy Spirit

So Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.  -Matthew 14:29

After asking for the empowering of the Spirit and receiving it in faith, our faith must be made active and alive through obedience. So step out! The Spirit comes upon people for action, speech, sight, and praise. Some acts of obedience could be words of prophecy, an act of mercy, witnessing to unbelievers, giving of gifts, healing illnesses, serving others, or prayer in your native or a foreign language. Listen for what the Spirit is asking you to do next. Your obedience will be connected to the calling God is placing on your life.

What about Manifestations of the Holy Spirit?

To each person, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. -1 Corinthians 12:7

When someone is filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit, there might be immediate physical or emotional things that occur. These can include:

  • Hands shaking
  • Feelings of heat
  • A river of joy, laughter, or tears
  • Whole body reactions
  • A deep sense of peace or love
  • Weak knees, with the invitation to let go and trust God, and ending up on the floor
  • Visions of Jesus or angels
  • Words of Scripture bubbling up and needing to be spoken
  • The tongue moving spontaneously (an actual foreign language, or a prayer language, or a form of praise, or a prophecy to be interpreted)
  • Feeling wired and energized
  • Feeling deep calmness and a desire to sleep
  • Sudden clarity and understanding of Christian doctrine
  • A quiet whisper of encouragement
  • No physical manifestations or feelings at all! But later, when stepping out in obedience, there is empowered action.

Manifestations should not be the focus of our attention, and we don’t seek after them, but neither should we be surprised when they happen. Everyone will have different expressions of the Spirit, and it doesn’t make anyone “more” or “less” filled.

A manifestation of the Spirit is the thinning of the space between heaven and earth, where the spiritual world touches material beings, affecting our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual lives. They are the consequences of the spiritual realm touching the natural world. Manifestations are an opportunity to trust and obey the Spirit in small things, so that we can trust and obey Him in the big things. They strengthen our faith.

What Comes Next

Once you’ve asked for and received the Holy Spirit – for the first time or the fiftieth – here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t neglect to use the gifts as God gives them to you (1 Timothy 4:14). This filling and acts of obedience are how Jesus is shown to the world!
  • Stay in Christian community. We cannot take this journey alone. You will need the body of Christ, and they will need you.
  • Remain in the Word and live a life of prayer.
  • Expect to be sent into the wilderness. After the Spirit came upon Jesus equipping Him for ministry, He was sent by the Spirit into the wilderness for testing and refinement. Don’t be discouraged; wilderness is often the preparation for spiritual leadership.
  • Expect heightened spiritual warfare. Anyone who is advancing the kingdom of God is a threat to Satan. Put on and keep on the full armor of God, and never leave the side of Jesus.
  • Set your mind, heart, and soul on following Jesus Christ. Keep your focus upward.

Receiving the Holy Spirit isn’t the end, but rather the beginning of a great adventure. Be on your guard. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous and strong. Do everything in love.

It won’t be an easy journey, but there is nothing like cooperating with the Holy Spirit and using your Spirit-empowered gifts to build God’s Kingdom.

To learn more about the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, visit www.prmi.org/pentecost for additional resources!

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