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Praying in the Spirit: How the Prayer Language Comes

As God has taken the labor out of our salvation, so He has taken it out of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. There was a time when the disciples of Jesus had to tarry for the coming of the Holy Spirit, but now He has come once and for all. There need be no tarrying for Christians today. If you are a Christian, the experience of the Holy Spirit is your birthright. As a Christian, the Spirit of God has taken up residence with your spirit and awaits to be released into the rest of your being-soul (mind, will, emotions) and body.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

- Luke 11:9

I said earlier that the salvation event is the context of the release of the Spirit. Salvation is indeed the only prerequisite for this experience. This is not to say, however, that the Spirit preempts or overrules a Christian’s will and forces the experience upon him. The Holy Spirit would never do this. He looks for believers who are willing to participate in this faith experience. There is no danger of a Christian with a bias against this experience finding himself speaking praises unto God in a heavenly language. Furthermore, there is little possibility that a person will express himself in tongues while harboring even honest doubt about the experience. You need to declare a moratorium on your doubt. Set aside any preconceived negative notions that you might have. Rest assured, your heavenly Father will not allow you to receive anything that will do you harm, especially when you are asking for something for the benefit of the Kingdom of God, and not for yourself. Jesus said,

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 11:11-13

Since the Pentecostal baptism comes by faith, doubt and disbelief must be left behind. If the Spirit is to find release within you, faith must become desire, not only desire to be used of God but desire to communicate with Him on a higher plane.

Naturally, your desire will be controlled by some motive, and if you desire to speak in tongues for the wrong reason, you are setting yourself up for a sad experience. Dennis Bennett has written that “the first purpose of the baptism in the Spirit is simply joy (Bennett, How, p. 94), that it is the Christian’s joy that motivates him to witness. The baptism in the Holy Spirit brings joy, for service. The words of Jesus to His disciples were, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In Acts 4 a group of Christians “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (verse 31). This filling resulted from the prayers of Peter, John, and others who, facing threats of the Jews, had refused to be silenced (4:18-31). The highest purpose of Spirit baptism is witnessing to our Savior’s love; therefore, to want to be a better representative of Christ Jesus is the purest motive for desiring the charismatic experience.

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Category: Fall 2000, Spirit

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), 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 Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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