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Because God cares, He’s provided the power needed to validate our witness. Kyle describes how the baptism in the Holy Spirit made the power available.
Although I was raised in a Christian home and saw the Gospel vitally transform my parent’s lives, I lacked a personal, living relationship with Jesus. In high school, my friend TJ invited me to his youth group. For the first time I heard speaking in tongues as both TJ and his friend prayed over me, alternating between their spiritual language and English. With a fresh sense of inner spiritual awakening, I clearly felt the Lord’s compassion directing me to go over and pray for a certain girl. (I noticed a new internal spiritual dynamic operating as a result of TJ’s prayers.) Afterward, a precious older woman named Nancy approached me. Her astounding prayers articulated the very secret concerns of my heart. I was rocked because no one could know these things except the Lord. Her inspired words instructed me in how to move out of negativity into healthy thought patterns of life. As the power of God touched me, I shook violently, wept uncontrollably, and was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave me a new spiritual language, what the Bible calls speaking in tongues.
Though undeniably changed, I didn’t understand the importance of daily exercising my gift of speaking in tongues. I encountered a Bible teacher who instructed me to daily pray in my prayer language for 15 minutes. Though it felt awkward and foreign, I used my drive to and from work to pray in tongues. Within weeks, I noticed powerful moments of inspiration when I read the Bible. New clarity highlighted familiar passages, and my knowledge of God exploded exponentially.
I understood what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 14:4a, A person who speaks in tongues is personally strengthened in the Lord (NLT). The 15 minutes of prayer in tongues built my spirit up enough to experience the indwelling living God communicating to me both by the Spirit and through Scripture. This growing awareness then created an openness to receive spiritual gifts that benefit others.
Tim, the Chi Alpha director at Montana State University, also discovered this truth as one who regularly prays in tongues. His spiritual openness led to receiving a significant word of knowledge.
While traveling to teach at a retreat, I prayed, ‘Lord, show me who you have a specific message for, a word that will accelerate Your work in their lives.’ In faith I expected God to do something. As I scanned the group during the first meal, my eyes fell on a young man named Ken. Instantly, I ‘knew’ he’d been hurt and harbored unforgiveness. Additional information dropped into my mind: the hurt stemmed from his father and from a female close to him. I prayed, ‘Lord, create an opportunity for me to talk to him.’ Before I told Ken what I ‘knew,’ I determined to ask him a couple of questions to see how accurately I had heard from the Lord. (No one hears from the Lord with perfect accuracy, which demands a sincere humility in all who aspire to operate in spiritual gifts.)
After my evening lecture, I introduced myself to Ken. ‘Ken, tell me a little bit about your relationship with your family,’ I prompted, praying that God would guide the conversation. Ken readily told me about his difficult relationship with his father. I spent 30 minutes guiding Ken to forgive his dad for his harsh words and unattainable expectations. Then, I asked Ken if he had a sister. He did. This older sister displayed cruel hostility toward him. During their last visit she sneered, ‘I wish you were dead.’ Through tears, Ken forgave and blessed his sister. During that hour of prayer Jesus healed his broken heart. ‘For years I lived under this dark cloud and now I’m free,’ Ken exclaimed.”
Afterwards, Tim revealed to Ken the word of knowledge the Holy Spirit gave him. Ken’s heart overflowed: The Father knew his pain and had orchestrated healing for him! God cares!
The baptism in the Holy Spirit will make you a better witness for Jesus by helping you hear His voice and cooperate with His redemptive plans. Spiritual gifts and signs and wonders will punctuate your life. Spiritual language will personally strengthen you in the Lord!