Step 1: Ensure that the person has repented of their sin
The Holy Spirit is only for those who have repented of their sin, and have become followers of Jesus. If the individual has not decided to follow the Lord, but still desires this experience, they should have the Gospel explained to them so they can repent. (Related article: What is the Gospel?)
The Bible makes it clear that the only way someone can receive Holy Spirit is through faith in Jesus. He is a Promise only to those who have decided to lay down their lives to follow Christ.
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John14:16-17)
“And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)
So, the first step is to ensure the individual has repented of their sin and has decided to follow Christ. If we brush past this step and just assume that they have, then we can pray until we’re blue in the face, but the Holy Spirit will never come.
Step 2: Explain the Biblical pattern of receiving the Holy Spirit
Throughout the New Testament, there is a pattern that all of the members of the early church followed when it came to leading someone to receive the Holy Spirit.
They ensured that the individual has repented of their sin, has gotten baptized in water, and then they would pray with them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
We see this pattern again and again throughout the book of Acts.
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them…But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized…”(Acts 8:5 & 12)
“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8:14-16)
The apostle Paul also followed this same pattern. When he came to Ephesus he saw some disciples and asked them if they had received Holy Spirit yet, they replied with, “we have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
Paul, after asking more questions, discovered that they were only disciples of John the baptist. So, he explained the Gospel to them more accurately, baptized them in water, and then laid his hands on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit.
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:5-6)
This was traditionally the Biblical pattern for someone to receive Holy Spirit: they would repent, get baptized, and then they would receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Now, of course, God can do whatever He wants. He is not limited to this pattern, we even see it violated in Acts chapter 10.
I only mention this as something to follow because it is what the apostles and the early church followed, and because it ensures the candidate has a pure desire for God and has truly repented.
Another thing I want you to realize is that receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation. In each of the passages quoted above, we see the individual coming to faith first, and then later receiving the Holy Spirit.
This is why Paul said in Acts 19, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Judging by this question alone we can come to the conclusion that receiving the Holy Spirit comes after someone believes in Christ.
I have more articles that cover this topic much more in-depth. If you want to know more about it you can check out my article called Baptism in the Holy Spirit (In-Depth Study).
Step 3: Teach the person that the Holy Spirit is received by faith, not feelings
Everything that we receive from God is received by faith. The Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). God is a faith God, which means that He only responds by faith and nothing else.
“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2)
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)
As you can see from both of these passages, the apostle made it clear that we receive the Holy Spirit by faith. So if we receive the Spirit by faith, then what is faith?
Well, the Bible makes it clear that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
This verse reveals two things about faith.
First, it reveals that faith brings substance to what we hope for. Meaning it brings the things we desire through hope into reality in our lives.
For example, we can hope for healing but it will never happen until we have faith for healing. Or we can have hope for salvation, but it will be impossible until we have faith in Jesus Christ.
Second, this verse reveals that faith is access to things not seen. In other words, faith is in direct opposition to feelings. Sure, we may feel God from time to time when we release faith in prayer or worship, but the truth is faith is the evidence of things that are not within our physical senses.
To walk by faith is to live by what we believe through God’s Word, not to live by what hear, smell, taste, see, or feel. (Related article: The Faith of the Centurion & How to Have it)
So if we are to lead someone to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we need to let them know that they should not compare their experience with other people’s experience.
Just because someone felt electricity going through them, or they saw a bright light, doesn’t mean that you will experience those same things. The person who had a physical manifestation and the person who had no physical manifestation both received the same Spirit if they believed.
Step 4: Explain that we must simply recieve Holy Spirit, not wait for Him
Throughout the book of Acts, we see consistently that the apostles taught new converts to receive the Holy Spirit, not wait for Him. In fact, after the day of Pentecost, we don’t see anyone ever having to wait for the Holy Spirit again.
“They sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)
“Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:46-47)
“Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:1-2)
As you can see, there is no teaching from the apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit, rather we see them using language such as “receive Holy Spirit.” They used this language because the Holy Spirit had already been given to the Church. He was poured out on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, so now we no longer need to wait for Him.
Just like salvation was available to us the moment Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, so too the Holy Spirit is available to all believers the moment He was given on the day of Pentecost.
All that is required now is that we receive Him by faith by asking the Father for the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, 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!” (Luke 11:13)
If you want to know more about this topic of waiting on the Holy Spirit, you can check out one of my articles that answers the common questions people have. Waiting on the Holy Spirit (Everything You Need to Know)
Step 5: Tell the person what to expect
Every time someone received the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts they spoke in tongues.
“And they (120 disciples) were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10:44-46)
“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” (Acts 19:6-7)
It is important to show the person these scriptures and reveal to them that when we ask for the Holy Spirit He is coming to fill us, and when He does we are able to speak in tongues.
Also, show the person that the Holy Spirit will not take over their mouth and start speaking in tongues for them. The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit guides our words, but we do the speaking by faith.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)
Notice, they were filled and they did the speaking, while the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. (Related article: Speaking in tongues: can you control it?)
The apostle Paul also confirms this same truth when he said,
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)
Step 6: Lay hands on the person to receive Holy Spirit
If you are leading someone to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit then it is important that you lay hands on this individual when they are ready to receive the Spirit of God.
“Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:17)
“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)
The laying on of hands is an elementary principle that was taught in the early church, that is no longer mentioned in our modern churches (Hebrews 6:2). Because of this, many believers don’t understand the purpose of laying hands on someone.
When we lay hands on someone, it is a contact point of faith for us and for the individual. It is an easy way to visualize the impartation of God’s Spirit. Of course, we are not the ones imparting the Spirit of God, but we are the ones cooperating with the Spirit of God.
This is the same reason we lay hands on the sick for healing. We don’t need to lay our hands on them, we can see people healed by simply speaking like Jesus and the apostles did. But we do it because Jesus commanded us to and because it is an easy way to grab hold of faith by physically seeing God’s Spirit touch them through our hands (Mark 16:17-18).
How to pray for someone to receive the Holy Spirit
We pray for someone to receive the Holy Spirit by following these simple steps: (1) instruct them to expect God to fill them with the Spirit, (2) then lay hands on them, and (3) ask the Father to baptize them in the Holy Spirit.
It’s important to mention that we are not the one’s who baptize people with the Holy Spirit. You and I are simply the middle men. God is the one who pours out His Spirit, and Jesus is the one who baptizes us in that Spirit.
We have the simplest job. We ask our God to do what He has already promised to do.
Once we ask the Father to baptize the individual in the Holy Spirit, we should encourage them to begin speaking in tongues by faith. (Related article: How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Speak in Tongues).
The Bible tells us that faith without action is dead (James 2:26). So if we are to release faith to receive the Holy Spirit, then we need to act.
If for some reason they did not speak in tongues, it is not because they didn’t receive Holy Spirit. It is because they didn’t release what they have been given. If this is the case, go back over with them and show them Acts 2:4, and 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 and explain that the believer does the speaking, not the Holy Spirit.
Step 7: Adjust these steps if needed
It’s important to know that as you meet people you will find that everyone is in their own place when it comes to receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Some may have never heard of this experience, some may be freaked out by it, others may be excited to receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever the case may be, these steps are meant to be a guide, not a law.
Whenever you meet someone who needs the Holy Spirit, find out where they are in their walk with God. Do they need to repent first? Do they know that speaking in tongues is biblical? Have they been waiting for the Holy Spirit for 10 years?
Find out where they are at and then start there.