Rely on The Holy Spirit
The sound of a mighty wind swept through the house where the people were sitting. The fire appeared, dividing into separate flames that rested on the heads of those present. Then each one started praising God in a language he had never learned.
Jesus had ascended into heaven. Now 120 of His followers had met for prayer and waiting on the Lord. Among them were the brothers of Jesus, the apostles, and several women— including Mary the mother of Jesus. They had heard the wind, they had seen the fire, and then as they yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit He used their tongues to speak out in other languages the wonders of God. It was the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1).
A huge crowd, amazed and confused, gathered. Some mocked the followers of Jesus. Then Peter stood up and with a loud voice preached the meaning of Pentecost to the people. Three thousand accepted his message concerning Christ. The church started to grow when Peter preached in the power of the Spirit.
The Pentecostal event has this message for you: you, too, may receive and rely on the Holy Spirit!
The Holy Spirit can be called the “Great Evangelist.” After the ascension of Jesus, the Spirit was sent as “another helper,” revealing the truth about God (John 14:16-17). He anoints the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, opening hearts and making Christ real to them. He works within the lives of believers, helping them grow to Christian maturity and to glorify the Lord.
But He needs instruments through which to do His work. He needs each one of us! When we yield ourselves to Him, He works through us to do this great task of evangelizing. We can trust the Holy Spirit to be our faithful helper. He helps us to pray effectively and will lead us into adventures in soul winning.
THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS YOU PRAY EFFECTIVELY
Pray In the Spirit
Objective 1. Recognize the need for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in effective prayer.
An elderly missionary in South Africa was seated one evening with his grandchildren enjoying a fine television program. In Pretoria, a city 70 miles away, his son Geoff lay in a hospital, having undergone major surgery. The report had been received that he was out of intensive care and doing well.
Suddenly the missionary said, “I think we must turn off the television and pray for Geoff.” After they had all prayed together, he went into his bedroom and began praying in another language given to him by the Holy Spirit. He prayed until the burden for his son lifted.
Unknown to him Geoff had developed a high fever and was delirious. He was rushed back into the intensive care unit, his hands tied down, and lifesaving equipment applied. His condition was listed as critical.
After hours of constant vigil, a nurse suddenly heard him say, “Why are my hands tied? Could you please loosen them?”
In alarm, the nurse ran for the doctor. But Geoff was all right. A few days later his wife brought him home.
He told the family, “You know, a strange thing happened. I seemed to be out of my mind and in great pain. Then I heard Dad’s voice praying in tongues. As I listened, everything began to clear up. I realized I was still in bed, but my hands were tied so I asked the nurse to untie my hands. When she and the doctor saw me, they were amazed that I had made such a speedy recovery! I experienced a miracle of healing from the Lord.”
What if the missionary had been too absorbed in other matters to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit?
Objective 2. Identify examples of various kinds of prayer.
The apostle Paul, in his teaching on gifts of the Spirit, wrote about two kinds of prayer. He said that sometimes he would “pray with his spirit.” At other times he would “pray with his mind” (1 Corinthians 14:15).
After you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit you can pray in your “prayer language.” Praying in the Spirit means that you surrender your spirit to Him and He speaks through you in another language. It is the gift of tongues is one of its operations—speaking to God (1 Corinthians 14:2). In this way, the Holy Spirit can bypass the mind and use the yielded tongue to pray according to the will of God. In that way, the mind cannot hinder God’s will with thoughts of doubt.
We can also pray with our understanding, and God can give us understanding as we pray. When we know of a need or realize an emergency we can call on God and know that He hears us. Often when we are leading others in prayer the Holy Spirit will anoint us so that we pray with confidence and authority that is not of ourselves.
Prayer and Fasting
Sometimes it may be necessary to fast, to abstain either completely or in part, from food. Fasting in itself doesn’t make one more holy, but it helps to bring the body into subjection and to remind one that the kingdom of God is more important than the needs of the body. It helps a person get closer to the Lord and increases faith in His Word. God has chosen to honor this method of prayer in a way we do not fully understand. But if done with the right attitude, fasting and praying bring results.
“Why couldn’t we drive the demon out?” the frustrated disciples asked Jesus one day in private. They had tried without success to bring deliverance to a boy with terrible seizures. When they could do nothing, the boy’s father had turned to Jesus who immediately commanded the demon to leave, and the child was healed.
In answer to their question, Jesus told them it was because they had so little faith. He added that only by prayer and fasting could the demon be cast out (Matthew 17:20-21, KJV).
Intercede for Souls
There is a deeper kind of prayer you should learn about and experience—intercessory prayer. This is an anointed praying for the salvation and deliverance of others. It is a ministry of the Holy Spirit through someone fully yielded to Him. The person may feel a great burden to pray at any time of day or night. He may or may not know what it is for, but he stops what he is doing and cries out to God, even “in groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). It compares to the labor pains of a mother before her child is born. The believer continues to pray until he feels the burden lift. This special kind of intercession has resulted in some great miracles in the kingdom of God! You can ask the Lord to give you this kind of ministry. It is not easy; it carries a heavy responsibility. But it brings forth spiritual births.
To pray alone is good; to pray with others is also necessary. Join Spirit-filled friends in prayer for the salvation of souls. Collective prayer brings results. Great things have been accomplished through the Holy Spirit when a group of people has given themselves to earnest praying together. There is greater strength and victory in numbers. “Five of you will be able to defeat a hundred, and a hundred will be able to defeat ten thousand” (Leviticus 26:8). I look at it this way.
THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS YOU IN SOUL-WINNING
Objective 3. State how the Holy Spirit leads in soul-winning.
As you reach up to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit will help you to reach out to win souls.
He Gives Us an Example
Here is how I picture the story which is told in Acts 8:26-39.
A caravan was wending its way southward to Gaza in a desert country. A richly clothed man sat in his chariot, carefully reading a scroll.
Suddenly a man named Philip appeared. He came running alongside the chariot listening to what the traveler was reading. Somewhat out of breath, Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
“How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” replied the traveler. This man was chief treasurer to the Queen of Ethiopia. Though we don’t know his name, we do know that he was hungry for spiritual reality. He had come a long way from his home country to worship God in Jerusalem. Somehow he had heard of its great temple dedicated to the worship of the one true God. He had purchased an Old Testament scroll, one that recorded the writings of Isaiah the prophet over 700 years before. Now he was reading the Scripture aloud.
Philip, one of the seven helpers in the church at Jerusalem, had been in one of the principal cities of Samaria. There he had preached Jesus Christ the Messiah to the people. Many Samaritans were converted, and others were healed by the power of God. Evil spirits were cast out. There was great rejoicing in the city (Acts 8:5-8).
They journeyed on until they came to a pond. “Here is water,” the official said. “What is to keep me from being baptized?”
“You may be baptized if you believe with all your heart,” Philip replied.
“I do,” said the official eagerly. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
The caravan stopped. Philip the Jew and the dark-skinned Ethiopian went down into the water. It was a baptism by immersion—an outward sign of an inner change. The Bible tells us that then the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away and the official did not see him again, but he “continued on his way, full of joy.”
Not only was Philip in the right place at the right time, but the Holy Spirit gave him the right words. He led the official from what he knew (prophecies of Isaiah) to what he did not know.
He Provides Opportunities
After a busy day’s work, a man in Australia was walking home. The Holy Spirit whispered to him to stop at a certain house. Here he was, tired and hungry. Why should he stop now?
But he obeyed the Spirit’s leading and knocked at the door. There was no immediate answer. He knocked again. Finally, a man opened it. The lay Christian asked, “May I help you in some way? The Holy Spirit whispered to me to come to your house.”
“Ah,” said the man with a sigh of relief, “you have come just in time! We’re at our wit’s end.” In his hand, he held a barber’s razor. He then explained how depressed and frustrated with the life he and his wife were. In terrible desperation, he was about to take his wife’s life and then his own.
The lay Christian, seizing these tremendous moments of opportunity, quietly explained the way of salvation. He prayed with the elderly couple and won them to the Lord. Instead of gruesome suicide, they found living hope through faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit knew their need and provided an opportunity for a yielded servant of the Lord to lead them to the Savior.
THE HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERS YOU TO EVANGELIZE
Objective 4. Name ways in which the Holy Spirit empowers and aids believers in evangelizing.
You must be filled with the Holy Spirit before you can fully experience His power in your life and work. Jesus meant this when He said that His followers were to be witnesses. He encouraged them by saying, “I will send upon you what my Father has promised” (Luke 24:49).
The dynamic power for effective evangelizing, you will realize more and more, is in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of power, and the purpose of His power is to make us witnesses of the living Christ. The last words of our Lord before He ascended into heaven were that “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.
The followers of Jesus obeyed Him. They waited in prayer and worship. Then the Holy Spirit came. Power from above descended upon them. They were filled to overflowing and gladly spoke of God’s wonders as the Holy Spirit gave them languages to speak (Acts 2).
He Gives Boldness and Love
Every time you read in the book of Acts of a group of individuals being filled with the Holy Spirit, you also read about an outreach. Believers evangelized and people were converted.
The Holy Spirit gives boldness. A lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple was marvelously healed. When Peter and John preached to the crowd that gathered, temple guards arrested them. Later, when Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, gave his defense before the Jewish leaders, they were amazed to see how bold the apostles were (Acts 4:13). You, too, can receive boldness from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also imparts love. Through Him, the Spirit of love comes the fruit of love (Romans 15:30; Galatians 5:22). Through Him, God pours out His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
It is not in the human heart to care about strangers in the same way that we care about our family members. Remember the story of the mother who thought her little girls were lost? (See Lesson 1.) She realized she cared more about her children’s safety than she did about lost souls, so she asked God to fill her heart with more love for the souls for whom Christ died. She remembered this when praying for two young people who were kneeling at the altar at church. As she knelt and laid her hands on them, she silently asked the Lord to help her let her whole heart go out to them just as it would to her daughters. The young people began to weep. They testified later that they felt something warm going through them that drew them close to the Lord. It was more than a mother’s love—it was God’s love.
He Convicts of Sin
In the great work of sharing the Good News, the Holy Spirit goes before us. He moves upon the heart of the prospective convert, making the person uneasy and uncomfortable until he repents of his wrongdoing and yields to the Lord.
A policeman in the island country of Jamaica gave this testimony: “I arrest people who disobey the laws of the land. One day the Holy Spirit came to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, ‘Sir, you are under arrest!’
“‘What for?’ I asked. ‘What have I done?’
“He said, ‘You have failed to keep God’s holy laws. You have been rebellious. Your heart is not right with the Lord!’ And with that He arrested me. I was frightened. Then I realized that Jesus had paid the penalty for my sins and I could be free! Praise God! Now I am a Christian policeman serving my Lord.”
The Holy Spirit does convict of sin. He shows people what is wrong in their lives. He makes them uneasy about rejecting Jesus who is the only means of salvation (John 16:8-9).
He Gives Gifts to Aid in Evangelizing
The Holy Spirit gives gifts, beautiful gifts, for the work of evangelizing the unconverted and for edifying the local congregation.
Greatly needed in sharing the Good News with others are the gifts of the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, the gift of discerning spirits, and the gift of faith. You can read about these in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.
The word of knowledge is a little bit of divine knowledge, information about someone or something that the Spirit gives you. You wouldn’t know it otherwise. In the same way, the word of wisdom is divine wisdom to say or do the right thing in the right way. It is far more than natural wisdom because it is given by the Holy Spirit.
The gift of discerning spirits is a special ability given by the Spirit to help us recognize spirits of the unseen world—the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and even of evil spirits—when this is needful for your protection or someone’s deliverance. The gift of faith is supernatural faith in God to meet a certain need or situation.
The story of Saul and Ananias in Acts 9:1-18 illustrates how the Holy Spirit gives gifts to aid in evangelizing. Saul (later known as Paul) was a terrible persecutor of the church until the Lord “arrested” him. While he was experiencing a marvelous conversion, Ananias, a believer, was alone praying.
The Lord revealed facts about Saul to Ananias in a vision.
Through the word of knowledge Ananias knew:
- Where Saul was staying and the name of the street (v. 11).
- That he was praying (v. 11).
- That he too had seen a vision of Ananias himself (v. 12).
- That Saul was chosen by God to serve Him and suffer for Him (vs. 15-16).
Ananias couldn’t possibly have known these details if the Lord had not revealed them to him. The Lord not only gave Ananias knowledge but instruction as well. In obedience, Ananias went to see Saul, prayed for him, and encouraged him. Saul recovered from his blindness and was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He said of himself later, “I was the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). But the power of the Holy Spirit transformed him into a great evangelist, church planter, and teacher.