There can be physical manifestations of the Spirit moving in the body and or emotions. The Holy Spirit is a mysterious and powerful person/entity. There are many ways the Holy Spirit expresses himself, some of which can impact our human senses. However, how the Holy Spirit feels physically is not an easily explainable experience. It is one of those abstracts that one must experience to grasp fully.
When Jesus sent Him (the spirit) to the disciples at Pentecost, a sound like a rushing wind brought half the city to the disciples’ doorstep. The disciples saw flames settle over their heads and spoke in foreign tongues. And that tradition continues in many churches. People under the power of the Spirit have seen visions, heard heavenly voices, prophesied, danced, spoken in tongues, received miraculous healing, and overcome addiction. Some have described the Holy Spirit thus: In the Old Testament, God was above us. When Jesus came, he was God with us. The Holy Spirit, however, is God in us. That’s a pretty weighty thought to digest .
“What does the Holy Spirit feel like physically?” Interestingly scripture never mentions this. It talks a good deal about what the Spirit inspires people to do, such as prophesying or preaching, but the spotlight always falls on the Spirit-inspired actions and not on the Spirit Himself. Having said that, I think the question is still answerable — partly from scripture and partly from the experience of believers .
The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance. In Acts 19:6, when Paul placed his hands on the Ephesians elders, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues while others prophesied .
The Physical Touch
Sometimes God physically touches you, and you feel His presence. How marvelous this is. He may send what feels like electricity flowing through your body, Holy Ghost goose bumps, heat, tingling, or other symptoms. I call this His glory or witnessing in some cases. There are times He may cause you to have the pain someone else is having so that you may know what and how to pray for them .
When Spirit actually does alight on flesh; things happen. These things can be distractive at times but also can be a sort of “sermon” as well. In the long run, we can learn to trust them if proven by consistent fruit and confirmation of God’s Word by experiential discernment.
Acts 2:17 (NKJ)” ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…'”
Eze 36:26 (NKJ) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
In conjunction with healing and other miracles, the presence of the Spirit is often described as “warmth,” “a tingling sensation,” “electrical,” or “breathtaking.” These sensations do exist (and they’re quite pleasant), but they should not be looked for as “proof” that a person is feeling the Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when becoming a Christian, and always has the Spirit in him or her whether His presence is felt or not. What the Spirit does give daily is deeper insight — eyes to see and ears to hear — or as Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and more abundantly.” The Spirit gives a deeper, more meaningful life in every sense of the Word .
The Spirit Can Be Felt
In most cases, in scripture, the arrival of the Spirit is followed immediately by someone speaking God’s Word or prophesying. The Spirit of God brings God’s Word, and when the Spirit inspires, it feels impossible to keep quiet about the Word.
The Spirit is, truly and literally, God within us. Sometimes a person can sense the presence of a Being far greater than can be imagined; I’m sure when the Spirit touches us, He holds back a great deal otherwise, we’d be completely overwhelmed.
In conjunction with healing and other miracles, the presence of the Spirit is often described as “warmth”, “a tingling sensation,” “electrical” or “breathtaking.” These sensations do exist (and they’re quite pleasant), but they should not be looked for as “proof” that a person is feeling the Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when becoming a Christian, and always has the Spirit in him or her whether His presence is felt or not. What the Spirit does give daily is deeper insight — eyes to see and ears to hear — or as Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and more abundantly.” The Spirit gives a deeper, more meaningful life in every sense of the Word.
So if the Holy Spirit is not some overbearing puppet master, then what does His indwelling feel like? Well, I’ll tell you.
The Living Water
Many believers don’t realize that Jesus told us exactly what the Holy Spirit would feel like. The revelation occurs in John 7:38:
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
This is not just some poetic imagery. Whenever I’m worshiping in the Spirit, it literally feels like a river is flowing out of my belly–a river flowing with life. Some people might find that description unsettling, but it’s really the most comforting and freeing sensation imaginable. The barrier between God and my flesh is temporarily removed, and I commune deeply with Him. Jesus said that anyone who drinks of this water shall never thirst again (John 4:14).
Pure Peace and Joy
I’ve heard some preachers say, “Whenever God comes, He brings everything that He is with Him.” It may sound cliche, but it’s true, especially of the Holy Spirit. Recall the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When the Holy Spirit is stirred inside of me, all of my anxieties and frustrations melt away. I feel excited about doing God’s work and want to humble myself in worship. He speaks His vision to my heart and gives me hope for the future. Sometimes, the joy I feel is so great that I want to dance. But even more than that, the Holy Spirit surrounds me with His gentleness and compassion. His words may challenge me to eschew sin, but He’s never harsh or manipulative.
Supernatural Boldness and Insight
Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would give them power to become his witnesses and do God’s work (Acts 1:8). This statement came shortly after the disciples had seen Jesus brutally crucified on the order of the Jewish authority. They feared for their lives. When Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, he found them hiding in a locked house. However, when they received the Holy Spirit, they began to preach publicly. The Holy Spirit’s boldness inspired them to travel thousands of miles under the threat of death and persecution to spread the gospel.
I have experienced similar boldness when sharing the gospel with others. Sometimes, it’s like a warm, raging fire in my chest. The Bible describes God’s Spirit in this way as well in Hebrews 12:29 and Deuteronomy 4:24–the “consuming fire.”
Boldness To Do Ministry
The Holy Spirit can also give believers insight into the lives of others in order to minister to them more effectively. Several years ago, as a volunteer youth leader, I once felt the Holy Spirit leading me to offer prayer during service for any teen who wished to receive it. The youth pastor obliged, and several teens came forward. One of those teens was a young woman just a couple of years younger than me. Both she and her mother were active members of my church, so I was well acquainted with her. As I laid hands on her to pray, the Holy Spirit said, “Pray for her to receive healing from sexual abuse.” I stopped the words just before they exited my mouth.
“Lord, I can’t pray for that!” I said. “I don’t know if she’s experienced such abuse. What if I’m wrong?” (It was the only time I had ever prayed prophetically.) The Spirit replied, “I’m telling you that she has. Trust me.” So I prayed, though quietly enough that no one around us could hear.
A couple of years later, the woman and I talked after a Sunday morning service. I don’t know how the subject came up, but she revealed that she had been abused by someone in her family many years ago. She hadn’t even told her mother. But God knew, and He allowed me to see it so I could pray in the right way.
I can’t emphasize enough the freeing power of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that healed me of the pain of abuse. Believers struggling to get free of addiction and evil desires usually find success only when they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Alcoholism? Gone. The pain of school bullying? Wiped away. Enslavement to gossip? Kicked to the curb. And when the Holy Spirit breaks the chains of bondage, they stay broken–as long as the believer doesn’t pick them up again.
The Weight of Glory
Now for the really controversial bit: The Holy Spirit has moods. In this way, He’s almost like a flesh-and-blood person. He can be delighted, He can be provoked to righteous indignation, He can be offended and He can be grieved. Believers can sense the mood of the Holy Spirit if they are attuned to Him. Such moods help believers determine God’s attitude toward certain thoughts, situations and behaviors.
Above all, the relationship between the believer and the Spirit is just that — a relationship, a community of two, in which the Spirit feels like the embrace of a friend, brother, or soul-mate. One then becomes aware that the Holy Spirit has the same community-of-two relationship with every believer on the planet, which defines the family of God, the community of faith, the true Church. And in that sense, the Spirit feels like home.
- “What Does the Holy Spirit Feel Like?” September 13, 2008, by Peg
- What is the physical evidence of the Holy Spirit?
- What does the Holy Spirit feel like?
- “What Does the Holy Spirit Feel Like?”