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Praying in the Spirit: How the Prayer Language Comes

While some mistakenly think there were only three or four instances of Holy Spirit baptism in these accounts, there were in fact no fewer than 162 (allowing ten for Cornelius’ household and twenty for the Samaritan “Pentecost”). This number makes for an undeniable pattern: Of the 162 Spirit baptisms described in Scripture, the only common, immediate, external evidence is not wind or fire or love or joy or prophecy, but singularly and invariably glossolalia.

Pentecostals believe that this evidence given for New Testament believers is the same for twentyfirst-century believers. We agree with St. Paul that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may he thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:l6-17), and we believe that Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would not draw a distorted picture of the early Church for the later Church to emulate. The book of Acts gives facts about water baptism and Spirit baptism, both are vital parts of Luke’s portrayal of the foundational and dynamic Church.

Some Christians have been unnecessarily sheepish about using the historical works of Scripture for formulating doctrine. Certainly it would be a concern if the historical veracity of the documents were in question or if accretions of myth and legend needed to be peeled away. But such is not the case; the New Testament documents are indeed reliable. And these documents make it unmistakably clear that God entered human time and space in the Incarnation. And this, the very basis of Christianity, is the great rebuttal of those who would emasculate the historical books of their doctrinal content.

Have you been baptized in the Spirit? Or has this become the missing baptism in your life? Just remember:

  1. John the Baptist prophesied it (Matthew 3:11),
  2. Jesus proclaimed it (Acts 1:54),
  3. The early church practiced it (Acts),
  4. The Spirit demonstrated it (Acts 2:6,8:18; 10:44-46; 19:6), and
  5. We must continue it (Acts 2:39; Ephesians 5:18).

With your mind set on worship and your passion on a needy Church and lost world, open your heart now and ask your Savior to baptize you in His Holy Spirit. What begins as an initial moment of spiritual utterance can become a lifestyle of worship: speaking, singing, thanks-giving, and submitting. But we must first experience that initial moment of Spirit baptism. For it is through this that the prayer language comes.

 

You Can Have This New Testament Experience

Although books have been written outlining “steps” to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, there is no simplistic x + y formula that, with scientific inevitability, guarantees this spiritual manifestation. God’s workings are not so mechanical. We are not on a celestial scavenger hunt through which we can obtain this and that and finally win the prize. We do not win; we do not earn. We simply believe. My Calvinist friends may even teach that this belief within me is God’s doing and not my own, further stressing that this spiritual manifestation is not a result of living a holy life or meeting certain conditions.

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Category: Fall 2000, Spirit

About the Author: Robert W. Graves is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (Chosen, 1987) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998). He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). Graves currently heads a real estate consulting firm in Woodstock, Georgia. He is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.

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