I know that the topic of receiving the Holy Spirit is one of contention among Christians, and I understand why. I don’t think we have to experience the same things, and to judge each other according to our experiences with the Holy Spirit leads to a lot of unnecessary accusations. I want to write more about that, but for this article I want to focus on what I experienced.
I was raised with a cessationist mindset, but when I turned my heart to Jesus as an adult, I learned that many people still received the Holy Spirit in a remarkable way, even today. I had heard of such things as a child, but I did not believe them until I heard the testimony of a brother that rang true to me, and because I trusted this person I decided to seek more from the Holy Spirit myself.
I started asking to receive the Holy Spirit in late 2014.
I was learning about Christian doctrine, and I was also learning about how the teaching of Jesus encourage righteous living—and the more I learned about His teachings the more clearly I saw my sin—and the more I hated it. The more I learned, the more confused I felt also because the things I experienced within popular Christianity seemed contradictory to many of the things I was learning.
I wanted the Spirit because I heard that the Spirit would help me to overcome the sins I was struggling with. I also wanted better understanding of scripture and what God wanted from me as a Christian. I asked for the Holy Spirit often, but I did not notice anything remarkable until January of 2016. I did not think to remember the date. I wish I had. I do know it was in the last week of January, a couple of weeks after my 29th birthday.
I was feeling very down because of my inability to overcome sin in my life. I also started a Christian blog a few months prior, and I was afraid that I did not have any business writing such articles without the Holy Spirit.
So, I prayed again to Jesus, asking Him to send me His Holy Spirit. I expressed a desire to find freedom from the sins that I could not escape, and I wanted understanding. I wanted to know what He wants from us a Christians today so that I could find some clarity amid all the different ideas about the Christian faith today, and I wanted to share His will with others so that they could find a way out of confusion too.
I did not fully know what I was asking for, as far as the implications of the understanding I wanted, but I know that my heart was in the right place and what I wanted most was His Spirit so that I could live for Jesus more fully and help others also.
I was very upset when I was praying. I was crying and pleading, and I felt a lot of fear because of my sin and because of the state of the Christian world as I saw it at the time. As I was praying, that fear melted away and was instantly replaced with the most soothing peace I have experienced—and I have never experienced peace like it since, not to that same degree.
I also felt a sensation come over my body that is hard to explain. I’ve heard others describe it as a soft vibration, and that kind of describes it, but I can’t really describe it. It was a feeling from inside of me, not from the outside, and I have no words for it.
Once I realized what was happening, I thought, “This is it! It’s really happening!” I had bee laying in my bed crying prior to. I sat up and looked at my hands, kind of expecting to see something for some reason. I did not see anything, but I did begin to sing. I sang in another language that I did not understand, but I had the sense that I was singing about Christian churches. I did not know anything beyond that, other than the song was both a song of rebuke and a song of comfort.
Once that experience ended, some things changed.
I found instant relief from crippling social anxiety. I still have a strong dislike for public speaking, but the way I was before the Holy Spirit was much worse. I could not go shopping during peak hours, for example, because I’d have a panic attack. I could barely talk to people unless I was very comfortable with them. A lot of that was simply gone. This might seem small, but to me it was a big deal.
I also found the ability to resist drugs and alcohol, which was a crutch I used to deal with my social anxiety and depression.
I also thought that I would not sin anymore, but that was not the case. I still have sins that I struggle with. Most freedom from sin that I have experienced has been a gradual undoing of deeply ingrained issues. I will write more about that at some point, because I know that many think that we do not sin after receiving the Holy Spirit, but I know that my experience and that of others was not the case. So, this accusation needs to be addressed.
I understand how this story can be off-putting. For most of my life, I did not believe that such things could happen today, and if someone had told me this, I probably would not believe them. I would be more inclined to now, but I also know that we have to judge the fruit of such things because people can indeed be manipulated by their environment. I also realize that the specifics of my experience are not typical, and it makes me feel uncomfortable writing about it.
Even so, this is what happened, and I know that there is much that we can receive from the Holy Spirit—even today. So, I want to encourage people to seek the Holy Spirit by calling on the Name of Jesus.
I have a lot more that I want to write about this. I want to write about the things Jesus brought me through after I received the Spirit. His methods for teaching me were not what I expected, and I am still learning.
I also want to write about the contention surrounding the things of the Spirit for Christians today. I don’t think our experience has to go just one way. We should not accuse people who have not experienced anything remarkable as lacking the Spirit, and we should not accuse those who did as faking experiences, being mentally ill, or following a cult.
All things work according to the will and work of God and His purposes for us. Some of us are like Thomas, and we need something more or else we will fall away. I know I would have. I also know that Jesus is made strong in weakness, so it is the weakest of us who get to experience His power very often, and it is the weakest among us who are used to edify the brethren.
So, if you feel weak in the faith, the best advice I have is to seek the Holy Spirit—and seek often. I asked for about a year and a half—and nearly every day—before He came to me. He will do so according to His timing and ways, not ours. You don’t need to recite a special prayer. You don’t need to have people lay hands on you. However, if you feel convicted to visit a church that believes in receiving the Spirit with power to have people pray for you, you can.
I do know that our heart should be in the right place. If we are seeking the Spirit simply because we want to have some great experience, or because we want to conform to the social pressures of our denomination, then He might wait until we are seeking Him for more righteous reasons—like having the power to live more uprightly or to have stronger faith.
If you have questions about the things written here, if you want someone to talk to about your Christian journey, or if you have a story that you would not mind me sharing here, feel free to leave a comment or send an email.