How to Receive the Holy Spirit and Speak in Tongues (Explained)


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In the early church, there was a foundation that was laid for every person that decided to follow Jesus. A significant part of that foundation is the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

When the apostle Paul encountered some Christians the first thing he would try to discover is if they had received the Holy Spirit yet.

“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?” (Acts19:1-2).

Notice that he didn’t say, “hey guys, how’s it going?”, or “hey, tell me how you got saved?” No, the first thing he said was “Have you received the Holy Spirit yet?”

It was so important to the apostle Paul that he made it the first thing he asked them.

We read shortly after, that they had not received the Holy Spirit yet. So, Paul explained the Gospel to them, baptized them, and prayed for them to 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).

In our modern-day church, we have forgotten the basics that made the early church so successful. In this article, we are going to be diving deep into one of those basics, which is how to receive the Holy Spirit and speak with tongues.

Let’s get started.

How can I receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues?

You can receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues by following these few simple steps:

You must be a follower of Jesus.

Jesus said that the world will not be able to receive the Holy Spirit, but only those that love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15-17). Peter said something similar when he was preaching the gospel to the high priest, he said, “we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

So, if we want to be able to receive the Holy Spirit we need to obey Christ by repenting of our sin and deciding to follow Him.

You must realize that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift for every believer in Christ.

The Bible makes it clear that the Spirit of God isn’t for the super Christians, rather it is for everyone who follows Jesus.

“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 SpiritFor the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.(Acts 2:38-39).

The term “the promise” is used repeatedly in this passage, and also by Jesus, to refer to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Realize that all you have to do is receive the Holy Spirit

It is important to understand that you do not need to beg God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit. The reason for this is because God has already given the Holy Spirit to the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.

All the believer has to do now is to receive Him. You do not need to wait for the Spirit to fill you.

Here are some verses that reveal this:

“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(Acts 8:14-15).

“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?” (Acts19:1-2).

Now notice from these two passages that the apostles never prayed for God to give them the Holy Spirit, rather they prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. If we fail to understand this we could be waiting for God to do something that he has already done.

If you have still have questions regarding this topic I have an article that covers this much more in-depth. It’s titled Waiting on the Holy Spirit (Everything You Need to Know). You can check it out by clicking that link.

Receive the Spirit by asking the Father in faith

Now all that is required is to ask in faith for the Spirit of God to come and fill you. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul confirm that all we have to do is ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, in faith, and He will happily give Him to us.

“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)

“Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:5)

“..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 3:14)

God desires to baptize us in His Spirit more than we want to be baptized by Him, and all it takes is for us to ask Him in faith.

Now, it is important to mention that we should not get caught up in the manifestations that the baptism in the Holy Spirit may bring. The important thing to remember is that the Spirit is a person. When we receive Him, we aren’t receiving a feeling, but a Divine Personality that desires to live on the inside of us.

Of course, feelings may come, but they are not a requirement. Just like we are saved by faith and water baptized by faith, so too we are baptized in the Holy Spirit by faith.

We should never compare our experiences with others, for the Bible says, those that “compare themselves among themselves are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12). So, just because someone had an incredible experience and you did not, doesn’t mean you are any less filled with the Spirit of God.

We receive the Spirit by faith, and faith is always in operation apart from the senses. Just like the writer of Hebrews says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen(Hebrews 11:1).

If you want to know more about manifestations in regards to receiving the Holy Spirit, I cover this topic pretty thoroughly in another article titled What does the Baptism in the Holy Spirit feel like?

Begin to speak in tongues

Once you ask the Father to baptize you in the Holy Spirit, all you have to do is simply begin to speak in tongues believing that Holy Spirit will guide your words as He did for the 120 disciples in the upper room (Acts 2:4).

You are not speaking in a natural, known language as many teach, rather it is a supernatural language that “no one understands” (1 Corinthians 14:2). If you have been taught contrary to this I recommend this article: Is speaking in tongues a real language? Or is it Gibberish?

Prayer to Receive Holy Spirit

Pray with me, “Father, thank you for the gift of Holy Spirit. Thank you that you have already done your part, and now all I have to do is receive the Spirit by faith. So, right now I ask you, Father, to baptize me in the Holy Spirit right now.”

If you just prayed that prayer in faith, begin to speak in tongues. It doesn’t matter if you feel anything or not. If you asked in faith the Holy Spirit is there and He will empower you to speak in tongues.

I believe that every one of you reading this who desires to receive the Holy Spirit absolutely will. Feel free to email and let me know if you have received this wonderful gift!

If you are still curious about the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can check out my in-depth study on this subject and hopefully it will answer all of your questions.

What can hinder speaking in tongues?

Speaking in tongues can be hindered primarily by incorrect doctrine. Some common doctrines that hinder speaking in tongues are: “the spiritual gifts have ceased”, “tongues is not for everyone”, “tongues is of the devil”, “Holy Spirit will take over”, and “tongues are a real language”.

Now let’s briefly answer these common objections.

“The Spiritual gifts have ceased.” The person who believes this usually has been taught that either the gifts ceased with the apostles or they ceased when “that which is perfect has come” (1 Corinthians 13:10).

People who hold the latter belief say that thing that is perfect is the Bible, so now that we have the Bible there is no need for the gifts of the Spirit.

Of course, I too believe that the Bible is perfect, but I do not believe that is what this verse is talking about. Let’s look at the passage real quick.

“But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

Now, if we stop there it would be a valid belief, however, the writer continues.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

These verses say here that when that which has perfect has come we will be mature, we will see face to face and no longer dimly, and that we will know just as we also are known by the Lord.

Does that sound like that has happened yet? Of course not. We do not know all things, our understanding is still a little bit fuzzy at times.

Now to address the other belief – the apostles never ceased, nor will they ever cease until Christ returns. There are still apostles to this day, we just don’t call them that too often because everyone is afraid to.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ(Ephesians 4:11-13).

This verse reveals that the apostles won’t be done away with until we all come to the unity of the faith and until we all become perfect as Christ is. Well, that certainly hasn’t happened yet, nor will it happen until Christ returns!

“Tongues is not for everyone.” Here are some verses that say otherwise.

“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17).

“Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” (1 Corinthians 14:23).

“If anyone speaks in a tonguelet there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.” (1 Corinthians 14:27)

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18). This is addressed to the whole church.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit(Jude 20). Praying in the Spirit is speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).

“Tongues is of the devil.” God tells us to speak in tongues (see verses mentioned above). So speaking in tongues can not be from the devil.

“Holy Spirit will take over.” The person who believes this thinks that when the Holy Spirit fills them He will control their mouth to speak through them. This is not what the Bible reveals.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4).

Notice, the disciples who were filled with the Spirit did the speaking, and the Spirit gave the utterance. Meaning all God did was simply guide their words as they willingly spoke. The apostle Paul says the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians.

“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit..” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)

“Tongues are a real language.” The Bible says that the “one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 14:2). I have an entire article that covers this objection pretty thoroughly. You can check it out here.

What happens when you receive the Holy Spirit?

When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are being filled with God and immersed in God all at once. He comes to live on the inside of us to empower us to walk just as Christ walked. Sometimes people have experiences where they feel Holy Spirit tangibly, this may be common but it is not required.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

You see, the whole purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit is not to have a goosebump, but to actually receive a Divine Person to dwell in you and with you.

So, the most important thing that happens when you get baptized in the Spirit is that you receive God, who is able to work in you and through you.

Now you may feel something tangibly come over you, or you may see a vision, or you may burst forth and speak in tongues and prophecy. But none of those things are the focus. In fact, I would say they are the exception, not the rule.

Focus on Him. Receive Him. Grow in relationship with Him. And soon you’ll be walking like Christ in character and power.

Can you have the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues?

It is possible to receive Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues at first. However, it is not possible to have Holy Spirit and not have the ability to speak in tongues. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive all that He is, which means we receive His spiritual gifts as well.

Think of it this way; if I give you a swiss army knife, and you receive it, you now have the ability of that swiss army knife. You may not use the blade or the spoon right away, but you still have the ability to use it if you so choose.

It is the same with God. The Bible says that the “spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32). Meaning the gifts of God are at our disposal to use.

Sometimes when the Holy Spirit fills us we have so many hesitancies about tongues that we choose not to speak at that moment. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have the Holy Spirit.

You still have the Spirit of God, all you have to do is choose, by faith, to use the gift that God has given you.

We can do this by simply seeing what the Bible truly says about these topics, receive Holy Spirit if we have not yet, and then speak in tongues by faith.

I hope this article assisted you in your walk with the Lord. If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving a donation of any amount by going to the support page. The support I receive from you enables The Biblical Foundation to reach more people with the teachings of the Word of God.

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