Author and Minister Max Lucado grew up in a church that doesn't teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but now he's revealing that praying in a heavenly language has become an important part of his prayer life. It all started with a bigger personal awakening to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lucado has written scores of books that are beloved by Christians across many denominations, featuring his insightful ability to explain the things of God. And his latest book, Help Is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit, aims to point out the unique role of the Holy Spirit and the empowerment He offers to believers.
The award-winning, best-selling author says he was raised with a very limited understanding of the Holy Spirit. Then, for two decades he pastored at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, which was loosely affiliated with the Church of Christ. But later in life, God did something he wasn't expecting.
The 68-year-old preacher tells Ed Stetzer and co-host Daniel Yang on The Stetzer Church Leaders Podcast, "For me, my more recent fascination with the Holy Spirit or pursuit of an understanding of the Holy Spirit comes out of a desperation. As I look around in society, and like you said I've been in ministry since 1979, and I found myself in the last 5 or 6 years really weary with the way churches were struggling to connect with society."
He says man-made methods for setting up churches to make an impact just aren't cutting it anymore. Then he realized the answer was found in the Bible where Jesus tells his disciples to go and wait on the Holy Spirit until they would be filled with power from on high.
"I don't want another program or church or idea or trend, but I am hungry – I am hungry for just a raindrop of the Holy Spirit to fall upon the church," he explains. "The Holy Spirit can do more in a moment than our best pastors and preachers can do in a lifetime. We just need a great awakening. We need that supernatural visitation of the Holy Spirit to come upon us."
What's amazing is that Lucado spoke those words five months ago, long before the Asbury Awakening began. Now others are also talking about and praying for a nationwide wave of revival.
Lucado says he goes back to the Bible passage in John 20:22 where Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, appears to the disciples, breathes upon them, and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." That was a salvation moment in which the disciples believed in the risen Lord and were first filled with the Holy Spirit. But it wasn't until later, in Acts chapter 2, that they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
"I do believe that when I gave my heart to Christ as a young man I received the Holy Spirit. I just didn't know how to follow him and how to respond to him," he explains.
He says he's learned more recently to inhale and to breathe-in the Spirit of God. "The Holy Spirit is so willing to give if we will simply request to receive. So I think my chief assignment as a Christian is to receive the Holy Spirit and then trust that he will speak through me as I go just about my day," he explained.
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It's been a big change for Lucado because he says he comes out of the church background of the "Holy Spirit Sheriff" who judges and is "cautious, hesitant, and resistant" to the supernatural ways of God.
Over the years, he mostly had a gradual awakening of his need for the Holy Spirit. But he also had several "very supernatural" encounters "in which I received an additional gift, perhaps, of the Holy Spirit."
In his own life, one of those moments came about four years ago. "This will surprise a lot of the audience, it already has, sure surprised our church," he said.
"When I was 64 on a July morning, as I was praying, I began praying in tongues," Lucado tells the Stetzer podcast. "I had not done anything different, except I came across the passage where the Apostle Paul said, 'Eagerly desire the spiritual gifts'… I prayed that every morning for two or three weeks. And then one morning, early in the morning, I began praying in a heavenly language."
"Again I had been taught those languages were discontinued," he says. "But I will say that it is just a tender moment every morning."
He has even come to believe in a version of what the Bible refers to as being "baptized in the Holy Spirit."
"When people ask me if I think there is a post-conversion experience of the Holy Spirit, my answer is I think there is, but not just one. I think there is almost daily," he said.
At the end of the day, Lucado says the goal is to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He believes secularism has ruined the lives of many, many people, leading to a mental health crisis in America, and it's time for Christians to desperately intercede for more of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to heal hearts and change lives.
BELOW: You Can Watch the 'Church Leaders' Interview with Max Lucado
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