INTRO TO IHOP: No I am not talking about pancakes…although I do love the IHOP restaurant which I frequented during my days as a seminary student living in Indiana…yum… I drool just thinking of it. Instead I am talking about an international prayer movement which is spreading around the globe and which the Holy Spirit recently used to break me, wreck me, and mess me up (in a good way). Let me introduce this movement to you in the next few paragraphs.
Every year tens of thousands from over 100 different nations around the globe flock to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. Tens of thousands more join the IHOP movement through a live online web streaming of their 24/7 prayer room (which you can access here: (http://www.ihopkc.org/prayerroom/). IHOP has also gained momentum over the years even offering a university program focused on intercession with majors in media, ministry, music, and missions. IHOP also offers inner-city and prayer internships, has helped develop several well-known musicians including Misty Edwards and Jon Thurlow, and offers vibrant ministries for children, as well as deliverance ministry for those affected by the sex-trade (known as Exodus Cry: http://exoduscry.com/). IHOPs are located in many other locations across the United States and a few IHOPs are being formed in both developed and developing countries around the world. There is also a similar movement in Toronto called THOP (Toronto House of Prayer: http://www.thop.ca/).
With all of these ministries, it would appear that he Holy Spirit is in this movement, however, not everyone thinks so. Toted as a revival movement by some and a cult by others, leader and founder, Mike Bickle (http://mikebickle.org/) and speakers associated with the ministry such as Lou Engle are both loved as well as scorned.
Throughout the years, people have, however unfortunately and unrightly, developed inaccurate representations of what IHOP is and I admit that when I went to the One Thing young adult’s conference from December 28th-31st, 2013, I was anything but sold out on the movement. I was skeptical at best and cynical at worst. Being a General Conference Mennonite, I’ve always been cautious about charismatic worship, even though over the past 4 years, God has been leading me deeper and deeper into manifestations of the Spirit which I can’t ignore. I came to IHOP because I was curious – I wasn’t really expecting much. I literally thought that people would roar like lions and that there would be gold dust and proclamations that people can raise from the dead. But that’s not what I discovered! Instead I discovered beautiful new friendships strategically placed in my life, believers passionate about prayer, and a deepened journey with Christ in my own life.
In the following paragraphs I want to share with you just a taste of what God laid on my heart at this conference and why I feel like if I keep it in it will be fire to my bones.
The amazing think about IHOP is that it is a ministry consumed by a passion for prayer. They do evangelism, social justice, and worship, but everything revolves around an attitude and posture of all day and all night prayer. This is a unique ministry for although all ministries which are of God pray fervently, very few have someone sustaining it through prayer literally during every hour of the day and night.
What also surprises me about this movement is that people keep coming back and every year the ministry grows exponentially. When I asked a young woman from my group who attended her fourth One Thing conference what the draw was she replied, “It’s the longevity. The fact that it’s the oldest prayer movement in North America, and Francis Chan is speaking.” She also remarked that One Thing has incredible worship and people are so touched by it that they share that excitement with their friends who then become curious. Almost everyone in attendance at the conference is there because they have experienced the worship before and loved it or they have heard of someone else’s experience of worship and wanted to join in.
These two things surprise me, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how people who have never even attended IHOP think lowly of this movement. I DON’T agree with some of the doctrinal theology or priorities which encompass this movement, but I also can’t deny that God has ministered to thousands here – which is why they keep returning, sometimes more than once a year. We wonder where the youth are in the church but when over 31,000 young adults all gather to worship in one place we disregard it as a cult rather than glorifying the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the thing: If God would have made me want to love Him more, but not given me the Holy Spirit, it would have been enough.
If God would have poured out the Spirit, but not given me a specific missional calling it would have been enough.
If God would have given me a calling, but not spoken into my brokenness, it would have been enough.
If God would have spoken into my brokenness, but not filled me with a love of worship it would have been enough.
But God in His mercy showed me all these things and so much more!
It’s incredible how I went to IHOPKC with a group of about 50 young adults ages 18-30 and in sharing testimonies with each other throughout the conference was encouraged to discover that each one was challenged by God in a different way and for different purposes. Each and everyone from our group has left changed – with a greater passion to know God and a greater desire to do the Will of the Father.
Personally, I left knowing that I want to fall in love with God in the same way that Jacob fell in love with Rachel. He loved her so much that he worked for 14 years but to him it didn’t even feel like a day because he was so consumed by his love for her. That’s what I want my relationship with God to look like. I want to start spending more time WITH God rather than just FOR Him. I want to go and tell others all that I have seen and heard, how the lame now walk, the blind now see, and the deaf now hear. I want to see women receive their dead back to life!
So, was it worth it to drive 20 hours to the Midwest with a bunch of people I’ve never met, live off of 5 hours of sleep for 6 days, and leave all technology at home fasting from social media? I think it was. Allow me to share why in the next several blogs.
KEY LEARNINGS FROM IHOP: I have decided to devote the next several blogs on ZwiebachandPeace to the work that the Holy Spirit accomplished in my life through attending IHOPKC. I do this with the understanding and discernment (through listening to the voice of the Spirit) that although there are some things which are meant to be of a private nature, between God and I, there are also many things which God confirmed to me would be an encouragement to other believers from around the globe.
My next few blogs will address: 1) A Four Part Series on the Following:
A) Developing and Remaining in a posture of prayer at all times.
~ Learning how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.
B) Expecting great things and revival to happen
~ Great things may happen in miraculous ways, but more often than not they happen in the stillness of our souls and in the sound of sheer silence.
C) Delivering a Prophetic Vision
~ Prophesy is perhaps the one gift that requires the most discernment for there are many false prophets.
~ Many people believe that prophesy is fortune telling so they regard it as ungodly, however, more often than not it is about confirming stirrings which others have already started to feel, encouraging them about where they’re at in their walk with God while making them crave more, and boldly declaring the Scriptures through rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
~ Rev. 22:6
D) Cultivating the Multicultural Reality of Heaven on Earth
~I live in Toronto – the most multicultural place in the world. There are many times when I am the only visible minority on the bus BECAUSE I AM WHITE! But compared to Heaven, Toronto is pale, not tastefully colourful. Heaven is a way more multicultural reality than what any of us can experience anywhere on this earth.
~ Scripture Verse: Revelation 5:9-10
2) Invitation to be an Intercessory Missionary and to Join the Night Watch
~ Practicing 24/7 prayer here on earth so that when we get to heaven we will be used to it and look forward to it (Revelation 4)
~ Revelation 21:22-26, Revelation 22:5
3) Reclaiming the Art of Biblical Fasting
WHY THE BLOGGING SERIES? IHOP really messed me up in a good way. It made my faith so much more of a priority for me. God taught me so much from this conference. In 4 days He taught me more than I have learned in the past four months! He confirmed so many of my searches and gave me assurance for my doubts. I honestly felt like every time I thought I had maximized the teachings of the Holy Spirit that God showed me something else. I am blogging because I believe that God meant these lessons to be digested by our generation. There are many things that God meant personally for me, they are private, individualized instructions and calls to confession and repentance. Obviously I won’t share those, but I will share the other words God gave me which He confirmed were meant not just for me. They are meant as encouragement for the faithful and an admonition to wake up for those asleep in their sins. I share because I believe God wants this generation to move and impact the world. I believe God wants this generation to be mighty for Him, constantly heading His call. But I believe it doesn’t start and end with us, no! I believe our hearts will be joined with the faithful saints of old and with the mighty generation of believers coming after us. I share these thoughts as an offering to God because I believe the Mennonite church needs revival. I believe the Catholic, United, Anglican, and Lutheran Church needs revival. I believe the Baptist and Reformed churches need revival. I even believe that the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches need revival! We’ve been stagnant and lukewarm for far too long and God is tired of it! He is calling us to so much, only a fraction of it which He revealed to me. In the last days He will reveal so much more of His vision to any man or woman who boldly heeds His call and is truly willing to impart those truths to the nations. Just like Jesus said to Philip when he recognized Christ as Lord and asked that he be able to see the Father “are you for real? You and I have been tight for so long and yet it’s like you don’t even know Me. Whoa-oh, Baby! You ain’t seen nothing yet! You’re going to see so much more than just this.” In this House of Prayer with the hearts of thousands intertwined with God’s in prayer, worship, and genuine intercession God began to reveal to me the deepest longings of my own heart. I hope you will also be able to experience such heavenly joy and delightful laughter in your own lives.
CONCLUSION: It’s an understatement to say that I went into IHOP with many prejudices. I went because I was curious – my charismatic experience confined to only a handful of experience of tongues, dreams, and visions. Having been brought up in churches which do not engage in the gifts and often discouraged by church leaders when I pondered charismatic thoughts with them and shared my own experiences.
I was expecting Holy Laughter, people being slain in the spirit (looking like they were having seizures) and miraculous wonders. Instead, what I saw was real people who are real in their relationship with Christ – totally sold out on Him. I had many biases, but God used my lack of understanding in the prophetic to humble me. I still don’t agree with all of the teachings, but it has left me seeking more. Unsatisfied with where my years of theological education have left me and wanting my spirit to join fully in God’s unfinished mission.
I could have chosen to let my inability to fully accept manifestations of the Spirit hinder me and hold me back, but then I never would have experienced Christ’s love impacting over 30,000 young adults all from different walks of life. I may not understand everything that IHOP stands for, but the Holy Spirit is heavy upon this place. Come see for yourself. Come experience rapturous grace and the beauty and mystery in the fact that the Holy Spirit is simply too magnificent to be placed in the box of human comprehension.