The pastor does believe that he received the Holy Spirit when he first trusted in Jesus. “I just didn’t know how to follow him and how to respond to him,” he said. “And sometimes I think that all of Christianity is reduced down to this one invitation to receive the Holy Spirit.” The reality is that believers need to seek God on a daily basis. Lucado’s journey has been one of learning to stop relying on strategies and trends and instead “returning to the power that is described in the New Testament.”
Lucado said that his experience with the Holy Spirit throughout his life has mostly been a slow journey over time versus a series of dramatic encounters. He said, “I can look back on some occasions in which I had encounters with the Holy Spirit that are just personal moments in which I felt like I received an additional gift, perhaps, of the Holy Spirit, a unique call or an anointing, the very supernatural type of moments, but [my journey has been] more a gradual takeoff of the airplane than an explosion of a rocket.”
When asked how he personally relates to the Holy Spirit, Lucado shared that one way is that God guides his thoughts. Said the pastor, “I am more convinced than ever that if I say, ‘Heavenly Father, should I say yes to this or no?’ And then I sit quietly for a few moments, I will have an answer surface in my mind. And I follow that.” The pastor takes great comfort from Paul’s words that the Holy Spirit speaks on our behalf when we don’t pray as we ought to pray. This knowledge, said Lucado, has “empowered” his prayers.
Speaking in tongues is not the “most significant” spiritual gift he has received, but Lucado said it is “a significant gift…And this will surprise a lot of the audience.” The pastor said he had assumed that he had received all the spiritual gifts that God wanted him to have. But 1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit,” so Lucado prayed, “Lord, is there any other gift you desire for me?” After praying that prayer every day for several weeks, one morning Lucado began praying in a “heavenly language.”
“I had been taught those languages were discontinued, and I really am not raising this topic so somebody can send me an email,” he said. “I’m really not.”
Lucado writes about his journey toward speaking in tongues in his book, but he was quick to emphasize that he does not see speaking in tongues as a gift that is more special than any other. “I’m very careful to say that doesn’t make me a better Christian, that doesn’t make me a better believer,” he said. “I don’t ever display that gift…I don’t want to come across like I’ve heard others come across, like, ‘Oh, I’m a super saint now that I have this gift.’”
Regarding how pastors should pursue knowing the Holy Spirit and receiving his gifts, Lucado said, “I think a childlike faith is really the soil in which the seeds of the Holy Spirit are best sown. A childlike faith that says, ‘Whatever you want to give me.’” For example, Lucado shared that his wife has received different gifts than he has. “She has a really powerful sense of discernment,” he said. “She picks up on, I think, the presence of a demonic force that I don’t even notice.”
“As pastors,” said Lucado, “I believe we can continue to say, ‘Lord, am I receiving everything you want to give me? I’m open. I’m thrilled with what you’ve given me. If I receive nothing else, wonderful. But if you have another strength, a gift of hospitality or gift of teaching, if you’re going to strengthen this or that, please, I’m just available.’ So I think that’s the attitude that we have to take.”