John the Baptist said these words referring to a gift from God which we can ask for and receive after we have been born again. It is available for all believers… not just the early Church. And salvation is the only requirement. If you have asked Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior then you simply pray and ask God to fill you with His Spirit. You don’t have to wait until you’re somehow spiritual enough.
The Person of the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you at the time of salvation. However, the initial evidence that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is your ability to speak in tongues or in a new “prayer language.” Some people receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in their new language at the time of salvation. But for most, it is a subsequent event as you grow in the Lord and desire to have more of Him in your life. This new heavenly language helps you to talk to God out of the depths of your heart, saying to Him what you are unable to fully express with your natural language alone. It may come in baby steps at first or it may come all at once. But take a step of faith, focus your mind on God and ask His help to release your prayer language. Open your mouth and allow the Holy Spirit to fill it with words that will go directly to God. It may sound strange to your ears, but He will understand what you’re saying even if you don’t because the Holy Spirit is interceding for you. (See 1 Corinthians 14:2 & Romans 8:26-27.)
Praying in the Spirit — or in your prayer language — is a decision that you make. It’s a daily devotional prayer language which every born-again believer has the right to use. However, it’s an act of your will and you are always in control. The apostle Paul said, I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). The Holy Spirit is ready to speak through you anytime you desire, but He is a gentleman and He will never force you to do anything you’re not ready to do.
It’s also important to ask God for the interpretation of what you’ve been praying when you pray in the Spirit. I believe the interpretation illuminates our minds. It’s God giving us the revelation and the answers we need. It’s not a literal word-for-word translation of what’s been said. But you receive understanding in a way that you didn’t have it before. It’s God helping you to know what to do in the situation you’re praying about.
A person can be saved and going to heaven without ever receiving this Baptism. However, it’s a valuable experience which can help you to be more effective in your Christian walk. You’ll experience more of God’s power in your everyday life and become bolder in your witness for Him. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are God’s ambassadors and the Holy Spirit helps us fulfill His will on earth, even as it is in heaven.
If you would like to know more about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or about speaking in tongues, I have a booklet titled “A Supernatural Way to Pray” that I think would be a blessing in your life. You can get it by simply calling our Abundant Life Prayer Group, at (918) 495-7777 and letting them know you’d like to have it. Or you can contact me by going to richardroberts.org/prayer.