I wonder how the 21 days of prayer and fasting went for each of you? I hope that in some way you were drawn to a deeper place of fellowship with God. Fasting and praying over a set amount of time is a source of reminder that we all need God. I was blessed with Bishop Muyu's message this past Sunday reminding us that not only do we need God ... but we also "need the Holy Spirit"!
Many of you responded, and it seemed clear to me that there is a growing hunger in the church for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives.
My Experience with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
I wanted to share my personal experience in receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit with you, perhaps as a way of encouragement.
About 25 years ago I belonged to a group of people who prayed together weekly. We met in a home in Broadway and spent the evening praying for each other and for other needs we were aware of. On one of those evenings I had been sharing with the group of some personal struggles in which I described my inability to get past a certain area in my life. One of the group members came over to me and shared that she believed I needed to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
To be honest, I wasn't really sure what that even was. I had heard a sermon just a few weeks before that time on the subject, but it was not something I had ever heard of in my Christian circles growing up.
I simply said, "Yes, I want it." and she and the group began to pray. To be honest, I felt nothing at that time. I didn't fall down. I didn't weep. I didn't tremble. I didn't feel anything. I Just thanked everyone and went on with the evening.
It was a few days later, as I was praying in my own "prayer closet" at my apartment that I noticed a change. I had been praying for some people in the church when I simply ran out of words to pray. As I recall, I simply came to a place where I just didn't know what else to pray ... and then the Holy Spirit said to me, "pray". I began to speak and out came "another language", or "tongues", what I refer today as my "prayer language". (See Romans 8:26)
Why the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is Important
You see, having the gift of tongues, or having the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just a sign so that we'll know we "have it". Rather, the gifts that come with the baptism of the Spirit are primarily so that we can minister more effectually in Spiritual things, and toward the needs of others.
To be clear, the baptism of the Spirit DOES cause a newfound boldness to witness as well as encouragement in our own lives. It IS a blessing to us as individuals, but I believe one of the reasons many Christians don't experience the fullness of the baptism of the Spirit is because we are focused too much on what WE will get, when God wants to empower us to focus on how we can serve others with HIS power and with His grace.
Perhaps you went forward on Sunday to receive prayer and you went away feeling the way I did that night I was prayed for. "Nothing happened"? If that is you, my encouragement is to continue to pray, continue to ask for prayer, and to continue most of all pursuing God and all that He has for you in your Christian life.
In speaking of prayer, Jesus said this in Luke 11:9-13:
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (My Bold Added)