How to Hear the Holy Spirit
Session #1 Discussions
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Question for class discussion:
Have you ever experienced a change in your life because you consciously and deliberately asked the Holy Spirit to fill you and activate you? Have you been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” in the Charismatic Renewal? Please describe your experience.
Introduction by Terry:
The term “baptized in the Spirit” does not refer to the Sacrament of Baptism. In the Sacrament, we all receive the fullness of Father God, Jesus the Savior, and the Holy Spirit. However, we rarely understand how to enter into this fullness. To be “baptized in the Spirit”, we intentionally ask the Holy Spirit to stir up within us all that was given to us in our sacramental baptism. We ask for the grace of having a personal relationship with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity to such an extent that the manifestations of life in the Spirit increase to overflowing.
There are many signs that it happens. One possible manifestation is speaking or praying in tongues. Another is being rested or slain in the Spirit when others pray over us, which is an experience of letting the Holy Spirit take over so much that we fall to the floor (without making ourselves do it) as we are overwhelmed by the love of God. However, these and other manifestations that are common in the Charismatic Renewal are not necessary. They are aids in the process of letting go and allowing the Holy Spirit to have more control over us, which in turn aids our spiritual growth. But there are many other aids available, too.
The most important manifestation of the Holy Spirit, which does happen to everyone who sincerely desires to live life in the Spirit, is the changes that happen within us, purifying us, healing us, and activating increased holiness.
E.D.F. shares this personal experience:
I was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a 3-day Life in the Spirit seminar in 2010. My life was changed and I grew spiritually. At my baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was slain and started speaking in tongues. While resting in the Spirit, I started crying and I saw the silhouette of three persons and felt someone caressing my cheeks. Later I asked the shepherd [mentor] assigned to me if there was anyone besides her around me. She said, No. She told me she thinks what I saw was the Trinity and believed it was the Lord’s hand comforting me. Wow! I also found out that when slain until the Holy Spirit releases you, one is spell-bound and cannot move. And wonders of wonders, even when my head hits hard the concrete or tiles, I am not hurt.
Back in August, I participated in a Kerygma retreat. And, being blessed to be a member of a parish whose priests, brothers, and deacons are Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, Father led us in a guided meditation (it was an hour but felt like minutes) to the Holy Spirit. I met Him. No more words can describe what I still feel.
When I was attending a retreat in 2012, I told the priest that I want to receive the gift of praying in tongues, as God has put a great burden on me to pray for others. Father explained how we should keep saying some words, and in time we will find ourselves repeating the same set of words. That same afternoon, I went into the chapel and knelt and was praying in a loud voice because I was the only one there. I found myself singing in tongues. I did not believe it. I heard the LORD say He has a plan for me. But that night, when they read out the [prophetic] messages, they said that someone in the group had received the gift of the Holy Spirit; I believed it was me.
On the last day of the same retreat when Father was praying over me, I felt a cold feeling flowing down my throat and chest. Father told me to go back to where the congregation was worshiping the Blessed Sacrament that was exposed there. He asked me not to sing but to imagine that I was hugging Jesus. I just kept imagining me as a small child hugging Jesus as a young man in white robe. Suddenly I saw the image of Jesus change into a mature father wearing a red shawl over a white robe and myself as a teenage girl. Before I could figure out how this picture came to mind, I saw Christ the King sitting on His throne. And I just knelt at His feet, and from nowhere He placed a crown on my head. A beautiful vision which I will never ever forget. I came out of that retreat so full, I could not imagine how God filled me.
I have not had a Charismatic moment with the Holy Spirit that I’m aware of. That’s mainly my problem in that I don’t recognize the Holy Spirit’s work in my life on a daily basis. I am becoming more aware…. I am blessed to be in my second career and work at a Catholic school and daily get to see the blessings that I’ve been given. Today is a prime example of how the Holy Spirit moves me just to take in the nature of my department at the office and to enjoy the beauty that God has given us. For this I am blessed and look forward to realizing the Holy Spirit more so in my life. I know I would not be at this beautiful, blessed workplace if it was not for the Holy Spirit putting me in the right place at the right time. So I look forward to growing and learning more about our Holy Spirit!!
Verbal communication is not my strong point. I have recently been asking the Holy Spirit to direct my conversation when I need to talk to someone about a difficult topic. This has seemed to help me get across my ideas and feelings better.
One of the most amazing encounters I had with God was shortly after my grandmother passed away. I was an agnostic at the time, having lost what little faith I had years ago. I was grieving my grandmother so strongly, I was suicidal. I was asleep one night and had a very interesting dream. In this dream, I had made many different choices, which resulted in my family putting my grandmother in a rest home and me being out of state and not making it home in time to say goodbye to her. I woke up, sat up and was very upset. The dream felt very real.
When I went back to bed, this Presence came down upon me. It was huge and felt like it engulfed my entire room. I sat up in terror, but as soon as I sat up, this sense of peace flooded me. I fell back in bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I felt weightless. I wasn’t floating, I was still in bed, but I felt as if someone was holding me. I felt incredible warmth, incredible joy and incredible love. All of my sadness, anger, guilt, every negative emotion was gone. I felt as if God held me in the Palm of His Hand. This feeling lasted most of the night and then slowly it receded.
I’ve always been afraid to share this (until recently) because I thought people would think I was crazy. A priest told me he has no doubt it was the Lord. And it converted me on the spot. I knew God was real and couldn’t deny Him anymore.
I have participated in the Charismatic Renewal as a co-facilitator. I believe I received and was baptized earlier in the Holy Spirit but not through the Catholic faith. Although I have definitely experienced the Holy Spirit working in and through me, and I believe I have received some of the charisms of the Holy Spirit, I’ve at times wondered if I needed to be baptized through the Charismatic Renewal to somehow be more consistent in experiencing the Holy Spirit. But then I think perhaps my idea may not be quite right. I thought receiving the Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit meant always hearing and feeling the presence, never doubting that what was coming to mind was from the Holy Spirit, and being clear on decisions — but that doesn’t always happen. I have found my thirst and desire for God and to know him more is greater, and in reading the Bible I have understood things that I’ve never seen that way before. I’ve also experienced, at times, a leading in learning more about God and His truth.
Terry’s response to what L.M. shared:
We will never be able to be fully consistent in experiencing the Holy Spirit. We are not yet capable of always hearing and feeling the Spirit. There will always be good reasons to doubt what comes into our minds as we pray to hear from the Holy Spirit. Only in the after-life will we become that pure and that fully united to God. Life on earth is a daily journey of growing in holiness, which improves our ability to hear the Holy Spirit clearly. But always we should put to the test what we think the Holy Spirit is telling us. This course will include ideas on how to test it and how to become more tuned into the Spirit.
My first experience of being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” was when I was 18 years old in Malaysia. It was an amazing and physical experience. I was drenched in sweat and started speaking in tongues. My relationship with the Lord changed as I hungered to read his Word. Later on in life, as I experienced difficulties at different points in my life, I knew that this deeper relationship sustained me.
I attended a Life in the Spirit Seminar a few times, and I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was like I was recharged and renewed & I felt immense joy in my heart. It is indescribable! So much – an abundance of joy and happiness, and I wanted to read the Bible, go to Mass, and do all this holy stuff. But not for long, and life was back to square one!
A few weeks ago, when I embarked on a journey of reciting the Novena to the Holy Spirit, I felt close to God — of course not like ‘walking on air’ as in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but a more realistic one. I felt more peace, patience and love, although with occasional bouts of anger. (I have a problem with anger. Very hot tempered! But I don’t keep it too long. It comes down as fast as it goes up!)
I would like to add one more thing. It has been a while since I recited the ‘Morning Offering’. When I was a kid yes, but after starting work, that practice just faded. But there were many days when I would arrive early at work in the mornings, and before I started work I would offer up everything to the Lord. The days that I offer up to God would turn out to be disastrous, in the sense that it’s such a busy day with too many patients, machine breakdowns, etc. (I used to work in a hospital). On the days that I plunge right in, they become normal days, manageable. And I always asked God, why Lord?? Of course I never bothered to wait or listen for an answer. Very recently I started again this habit (Morning Offering) and found that this same pattern exists.
Response from Terry:
When we begin to pray more, like when you recited the Morning Offering, if things get worse there are two causes: (1) we have a spiritual Enemy that wants to stop us, and (2) God wants to teach us persistence. Although this is not the course to discuss spiritual warfare, I will say this now: We must not fear the Enemy nor let it have its victory by letting it stop us. Realize that the Enemy is afraid of YOU and what your increased prayer life is going to lead to. Turn to Jesus, ask for help in defeating the Enemy, and get the Blessed Mother’s help, too. Here’s a prayer of protection that I have found very useful; before you begin to pray the Morning Offering (or whatever praying or faith-centered activity you’re doing), pray: “Father God, surround me with so many holy angels that demons cannot see me nor hear me. Hide me in the shadow of the Holy Spirit.”
And get yourself to a prayer group or spiritual director who understands spiritual warfare. This is important!
When I watched the video, it was like a little flame had been fanned within me. I felt excited knowing I’m going to learn and hopefully to come to understand and know the Holy Spirit better.
I have experienced many changes in my life but it’s not that I consciously and deliberately asked the Holy Spirit. Many times I have begged Jesus or his mother for the help I need. I do however pray that prayer, “Come Holy Spirit,
fill me with the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and I shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth”. I don’t pray this every day. Mainly I use it after Easter Sunday till Pentecost.
About ten years ago, I attended a Dove Camp [a ministry for women in New Zealand that was born out of the Charismatic Renewal] where I was prayed over and ended up on the floor. My whole body was shaking and my false teeth chattering. I couldn’t stop it. I was conscious of this happening to me, but I also felt at peace.
I like that idea of asking the Holy Spirit to fill me and activate me. This I had never thought of asking but will certainly be doing each morning at my prayer time.
I have consciously sought and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at least 10 times in my life, the first being a Life in the Spirit seminar in 1989, where my primary experience was one of peace but no outward signs. My 2nd Life in the Spirit seminar yielded my first few words of tongues — only 3, but I knew they were from God! There followed Dove Fellowship NZ weekend seminars for 15 years, with baptism of the Holy Spirit offered generously, and a 3rd Life in the Spirit seminar and an Alpha weekend. All yielded more fruit of the Spirit and gifts. Always I have been hungry to receive more of the Holy Spirit and will never turn down an invitation, because I have so much more to learn about serving God. I want wisdom, discernment, healing, teaching, prophecy, words of knowledge, to be able to help the hurting.
I was born and raised in a very devoutly Catholic family, but for over thirty years, I never experienced the presence of God in my life. Like most Catholics, I just kept Sunday, a holy day of obligation, and I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a year to fulfill my Catholic obligation. Until my mom nagged and persuaded me to attend a Charismatic Renewal retreat. I was definitely touched by God’s Spirit, went on crying for days. I started to love and attended daily Mass and Adoration. Most of all, I started going to Confession more frequently and appreciate the Sacrament much more.
Having been a “dormant” catholic for many years, since being baptized way back in 1981, this desire to have the Holy Spirit to come alive in me became urgent following my desperate need for guidance and discernment when my only daughter went into depression in early 2013.
After spending a lot of time in prayers, devotions and bible reading, I sensed more of the Holy Spirit working in my life by the growing changes and progress in the circumstances surrounding our family. I am less anxious, more calm and at peace, reassured and feel God’s love reaching out to me, through the support of loved ones, family members, friends and our Christians brothers and sisters. The words which I read in the bible, devotions and Christian books tug at my heart and awaken my desire to know the Holy Spirit more.
In May 2015, I attended a Growth in the Spirit Seminar and was baptized in the Holy Spirit, receiving what I believed was the “gift of tongues”. I was initially very excited and happy to have this but have somehow let it lay dormant without actively practicing it. This is also due to my own doubt about the gift of tongues and whether I have really received it or otherwise.
During my quiet moments in early morning prayers and devotions, I sometimes sense the Holy Spirit speaking to me in my heart with very simple messages of reassurance that touches my heart. This serves to lift me up and encourages me, especially during those times of despair and trials.
Now that things are progressing steadily, I feel less of the Holy Spirit touching me during my morning prayers. I know God is there for me, but I do desire learning, hearing and knowing the Holy Spirit more intimately. I just wondered whether there will be seasons where the Holy Spirit is “silent” before becoming activated again?
Yes, there are seasons like that, but mostly it’s due to our own choices. We get distracted by other activities. We reach plateaus in our prayer life, and God lets us even feel spiritually dry if we let ourselves get too distracted for too long. These seasons are meant to motivate us to increase our prayer lives and ask the Holy Spirit to take us to the next level of spiritual growth.
The gift of tongues never goes dormant. It’s always there, and all we have to do is choose to pray in tongues like we did before. That being said, the gift of tongues is not so essential that it’s bad to stop praying this way. I myself go for long periods of times (months) before praying in that method again. What gets me praying in tongues again are situations like praying for someone and I don’t know what to pray, but the Holy Spirit does, so I let the Spirit take over my language.
It rarely feels like the Holy Spirit has taken over my language. It feels like me; it’s my choice. What it sounds like is influenced by me, at least in part. I don’t know how much the Holy Spirit controls what it sounds like. That’s not important. What is important is that when we don’t know what to pray, or we just want to get into a spirit of prayer without thinking about what to say, we make non-word sounds as a gesture to God that we are humbly desiring his will to be done.
A good way to start, if it’s not natural yet to pray in tongues, is to repeat “alleluia” over and over until your tongue becomes free to add other sounds to these syllables. And then keep going without analyzing what’s happening. Keep going while thinking only of Jesus.
J.J. added to this:
I was reading the comments about Tongues. God gave me the Gift of Tongues sometime last summer. I had heard Tongues at my prayer group but mine was so different. It was just one syllable over and over. I started thinking this couldn’t possibly be The Gift of Tongues, so I quit praying it after a month. It was until this Lent (at a Charismatic Workshop) I found out, yeah, it was Tongues. I have been praying it ever since. I usually start by praising God or I will sing the song “Lord, I need You” and then the Holy Spirit will want to pray. Another way to start is to repeat Abba over and over, that will start Tongues for me.
Session #2 >>>