In War Story 27, Barbara and I had just led an Irish bus driver named Sean to the Lord in the lobby of our Dublin hotel. The lobby of the hotel also served as a bar during the traditional afternoon tea break. Barbara and I had entered the hotel after a late afternoon walk in downtown Dublin, and sat down at Sean’s table for coffee. Sean, who had just returned to the table after filling his mug with a second beer said, “Ok, what did you say about being baptized in the Holy Spirit?”
I explained to Sean that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a very important gift. All, the early disciples had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit shortly after Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead. I explained that when I was first born again, I had read about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit but somehow I had gotten the idea that this gift was only for spiritual people like a priest or pastor. I didn’t understand that it was for everyone who had received Christ like Sean had just done. But as I read and reread about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, faith was developing in my spirit. The scriptures have a lot to say about the benefits of praying in tongues. 1) I explained that the term tongues used in the Bible refers to a personal prayer language that the Holy Spirit gives to a believer when they are baptized in the Holy Spirit. 2) I explained to Sean that I hadn’t received the baptism in the Holy Spirit until seven months after being born again because I didn’t understand that it was available to me. But as I continued to study about it one night I realized that I could receive it as soon as I was born again. Then one evening in mid-September of 1976, in the living room of my home, I knelt down by our sofa and I asked Jesus to baptize me in the Holy Spirit. Realizing that I needed to receive it by faith, I thanked Jesus for baptizing me, and then I began to speak some syllables by faith – not complete words, just syllables – and the Holy Spirit took those syllables and formed them into words. They were words I didn’t understand, but I could tell they were words. Praying with these new words seemed to energize my spirit, my inner man; it felt good. The next day, indeed the next several weeks, I prayed in the spirit (in tongues) whenever I got the opportunity to do so. Jesus became real to me; the Word of God came alive. I didn’t tell my wife Barbara that I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit right away because I wanted to make sure I understood it, before I explained it to her. When I told Barbara about my experience, I thought she would be thrilled. After all, when we were married she had told the pastor who married us that she wanted to have a true Christian marriage. But I must tell you that Barbara was not very happy about me receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues. She had been raised in a denominational church, which had taught that anyone who spoke in tongues was a “Holy Roller,” a sect of Christians who were considered out of the mainstream of Christianity. But after watching the dramatic changes that took place in my life over the next several weeks she too asked Jesus to baptize her in the Holy Spirit. The very afternoon that she prayed that prayer and she was baptized in the Holy Spirit, she was singing in the kitchen, when she realized that she was not singing in English but in a new Holy Spirit prayer language. I explained to Sean that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is very important to the manifestation of the “the gifts of the Spirit” and his ability to be led by the Spirit of God in his life and business.
I gave Sean a small booklet entitled “Why Tongues” by Kenneth E. Hagin (one of several booklets that I had retrieved from my room while Sean was refilling his glass of beer. I shared the following information from the Bible to help him understand and to encourage him and help him to receive and exercise his new prayer language. I told him that the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all agree with the baptism in the Holy Spirit and gave him some of the following information from the Bible. The Father is the one who promised the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4 & Joel 2:28-29); Jesus is the one who actually baptizes us in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, John 7:38); and the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the utterance, or the words (Acts 2:4). I pointed out that the “initial sign” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:2-6).
Because this gift has been such a blessing to me, I wanted Sean to become aware of some of the benefits which would accrue to him when he received it and was able to pray to God in his own private prayer language. First, he would receive ability or power when the Holy Spirit came upon him (Acts 1:8); second, he could build himself up in his holy faith when he prayed in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20); third, He would edify himself, he would build himself up in his most holy faith, he would give himself – a spiritual “battery charge” of sorts – if he would pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:4); fourth, when we don’t know how to pray about a situation, or an individual, the Holy Spirit will pray through us (in words that cannot be articulated in English) the perfect will of God (Romans 8:26-28); and fifth, when he prayed in tongues, he would be speaking mysteries to God (1 Corinthians 14:2).
Because the individual praying in the Spirit doesn’t understand what he is praying, some begin to wonder what good is it doing to pray in tongues. I told Sean when you pray in tongues, you are not speaking to men; you are speaking to God who understands everything you say. It is your private, coded prayer language to the Father; it is a language that the devil doesn’t understand. After explaining these things to Sean, Barbara and I reached across the table, took Sean’s hand and began to quietly pray in other tongues, and Sean also began to pray in his new prayer language. I gave Sean the telephone number of the Chapter President in the Dublin area whom I had met earlier in the week and asked him to contact the local chapter for fellowship. Early the next morning we left Dublin for Dundalk.
There is a caveat to this story. Shortly after I returned to my home in Seattle I gave a short testimony concerning our time with Sean in a Fellowship meeting in Lynnwood Washington. A man in the audience from a denomination that was extremely opposed to the drinking of wine or beer became offended by the testimony of Jesus saving a man while he was drinking beer. I have therefore been rather selective over the years in sharing of this story. If you were offended by this story I apologize in advance, but this is a story of the grace of God, this is a story that needs to be told.
In Jesus Name,