I remember many years ago when I first learned what Church was. It was where you went if you wanted salvation. Later, once I learned about the Holy Ghost, we were all encourged to ‘tarry’ for it. At least at the time it seemed like a need. We were all so young, but old enough to decide if we wanted to do this or not. So we knelt and as the saints prayed over us and told us what to pray. Did we need to do this to be filled with the Holy Spirit as the bible shows? I do believe the Holy Spirit filled those of us who were penitent and believed on Christ. But is how we sought after Him necessary?


The Command to Wait

After the resurrection, Jesus spent time strengthening the faith of the disciples. Before His departure, He gave them specific instruction…

”And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49

To tarry is to wait or stay somewhere. The disciples received the instruction to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit. What else were they asked to do? Nothing. But He does give a clue about why they should go there.


The Birthplace of the Commission

”Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  Luke 24:45-47 ”But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

Jesus told the disciples that the preaching of the gospel would begin at Jerusalem! That seems simple enough. But why Jerusalem?

”And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”  Acts 2:5

God knew that devout (loyal, devoted, serious, sincere) men would be in Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost. This was the perfect time for the Holy Spirit to fill the believers. It was also the perfect field in which to sow to being forth a great first harvest of souls for the Kingdom! From this harvest, the gospel began to spread across the globe as these men took the Good News back to their native lands.


So How Did They Receive the Holy Ghost?

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  Acts 2:38 ”And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”  Acts 2:2 ”And all that believed were together, and had all things common;”  Acts 2:44

There is a common mix of ingredients here. They consist of belief (faith), repentance, and baptism. Isn’t this what Jesus said to do?

”He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;…”  Mark 16:16

One thing we need to take note of is this. He came on them ‘suddenly’. You see, they were not praying or ‘tarrying’ for the Holy Spirit. They were doing what they had become accustomed to doing all along. And the room was not special. It was a room that was at the top of the building, no doubt for quietness and privacy, thence ‘an upper room’ (Acts 1:13)

”Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey… These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Acts 1:12,14

It was while they were together that the Holy Ghost came on them. They were not praying at the moment He fell on them. Being on one accord means they were believing and seeking for the same things. There are other examples where prayer was not in progress when the Holy Spirit came.

  • He filled John the Baptist in his mother’s womb – Luke 1:15
  • By the laying on of hands – Acts 8:17, 19:6
  • During the preached word – Acts 10:44

There is one instance when the Holy Ghost filled believers while praying. And they weren’t asking for it. They were praying for boldness to continue preaching the gospel in persecution! (Acts 4:23-31)


Is Tarrying for the Holy Ghost Necessary?

As we have seen, no one tarried for the filling of the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that we only need to believe on the Lord and be baptized. The filling of the Holy Spirit is a promise to those who believe. He can come during prayer, when someone is praying for another, or while listening to the Word. He can even come while going about everyday tasks.

”And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:”  Luke 1:41

The Holy Ghost filled Elisabeth when she heard Mary’s greeting. Elisabeth’s husband, Zacharias, received the Holy Spirit on the day John's circumcision. No need for shut-ins, tarry services, and hours of pleading to be filled. There are no restrictions on the Holy Spirit. He does not operate in a box. He is free to do as He wills. And His will is to fulfill the will of the Father. So when new converts ask the question about the filling of the Holy Ghost, the answer is simple. He can come anytime, anywhere. Jesus promised Him to those who believe, so He will come.   I hope you found this article helpful. Have a bible question? Suggest a topic! If you liked this article, you can subscribe for notification when new articles are posted. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.