The Disaster of Repressed Sexuality – The Danger of Not Having the Sex-Talk and How Churches Can Begin to Encourage Their Young Adults to Liberate Their Sexuality

ImageThe following article was writing as part of the Living Liberation! blog series put on by the Wild Goose Festival’s blog tour. The Wild Goose Festival is a gathering at the intersection of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. Happening June 26-29 outside of Asheville in Hot Springs, NC. You can get more information and tickets here: www.wildgoosefestival.org. 

I grew up in fairly ecumenical settings. For the first few years of my life I attended Anglican and Lutheran congregations and then later attended a Baptist (BCOQ) church before finally finding my place among the Mennonites at 14 years old. After high school, I also attended Tyndale University College and currently am a seminary student at this institution, which is one of the biggest Christian liberal arts universities in Canada. So, it’s safe to say that for the majority of my life I have known a lot of Christians, been influenced by Christian thought, and had my entire worldview shaped by the church. This, of course, has been mostly a good thing. Through church I have learned the principles of service, discipleship, and social justice. Church is the reason that I have taken an interest in issues of marginalization and in the beauty (and unfortunately all too often, destruction) of our world – creation, humanity, and salvation.

Growing up there were a variety of topics which I explored in my Sunday school, youth group, and later small group times. These topics centered primarily on pacifism, immigration reform, and Dietrich Bonheoffer. Yet, there was one topic that was sadly either misrepresented or left out all together – that of human sexuality.

You see, growing up, sexuality was a topic that was rarely explored, rarely discussed, and rarely acknowledged. The general sense that I got as a teenager and young adult was that sex was dirty, gross, and something to be ashamed of. That is, until you got married. Once you got married it automatically became something beautiful, worshipful to the Creator, and an emotionally binding experience which brought two hearts and two souls together. Yet, this created a huge problem. How do you go from years of thinking of sex as something God frowns on to thinking of it as one of the best gifts God gave to His creation?

Now, let me backtrack here for just a moment. Every church that I have ever been a part of would say that sex IS a beautiful thing as long as it is within the rightful parameters of marriage. Therefore, it is not a sin to want to be sexual, but it is a sin to practice it before making a commitment. For a long time, this has been my viewpoint, and in many ways it still is. But, there are unfortunately some loop holes with this argument.

First, there is the whole debate about what the difference is between attraction and lust. Many Evangelicals would argue that it becomes lust when you start thinking sexual thoughts. These same individuals believe that it is entirely possible to think about love and marriage without ever being tempted to have sex and if you do think about sex (even with your committed partner) you must repent right away. To me, this is unrealistic. Almost all humans have a need and desire for closeness, companionship, and intimacy with another person. For many, the physical intimacy they crave goes beyond simply having a hug or a hand on the shoulder by a best friend. Many, need to take this further and this was God’s design. God created sex and He made it to be a beautiful thing. Therefore, there should be no shame in thinking sexual thoughts towards a lover; repressing it only leads to feeling guilty and sinful. NOW, don’t get me wrong. As Christians, we have a certain level of responsibility. While we might not be able to stop thinking sexual thoughts about a lover, we can willingly choose not to engage in those thoughts or how far we want to take those thoughts. This is a personal decision and one to be discussed with a partner – fully respectful of the other partner’s limits. However, to say that you will date someone for one or two years and never think fantasies… well, I think that is just very unrealistic.

Second, there is unfortunately a lot of gender imbalance when it comes to liberating Christian sexuality in the church. Even amongst Christian groups it is thought that many men do not have the power or the ability to control their desires, but Christian women are taught to either be asexual or to repress their sexuality altogether. Some examples I have noted in my studies on Christian human sexuality and through my internship work at a pregnancy center include:

1)      Women are taught to dress modestly so that they do not tempt a brother to fall into sinful temptation, whereas men are rarely, if ever, taught to dress or act a certain way. That’s why it right away becomes a big deal if a woman’s shirt is too short, but it’s never a big deal when guy’s boxers are showing. That’s because it is thought that women will tempt men, but somehow women are above sexual temptation and thus will not begin fantasying regardless of how a man acts or dresses.

2)      Unfortunately all too often when a women becomes pregnant outside of marriage she is the one who is looked down on rather than the man. Many Christians have this viewpoint that it is entirely the woman’s job to make and keep the boundaries and therefore even when the man becomes sexually aggressive towards her she still needs to be able to control herself. This is a wrongful responsibility to place on a woman. I do agree that women should learn to be more assertive and also are responsible (outside of assault) if they become pregnant, but I also believe that the man needs to respect her, not pressure her, and take responsibility to become a Godly father even if he is young. The parents of both the man and the woman should also work with the young couple rather than shunning them, and help them to develop skills to be effective and loving parents. Churches should not shame or dishonour a young unmarried couple, but rather should extend the love of Christ to them and help disciple both the couple and the child. Pastors and youth leaders should also be prepared and equipped to provide referrals to other resources for teenagers and unmarried young adults such as local pregnancy centers, Christian counseling agencies, and adoption agencies (if requested).

3)      Every year thousands of women are raped, assaulted, violated, and sexually manipulated. Unfortunately, our culture in general still plays the victim blaming game. This is never right or fair. A woman who has been abused has suffered a traumatic loss. From a psychological point of view, going through assault is the equivalent of losing a loved one or being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The victim is never to blame. Yes, in some rare cases there might have been ways to avoid the situation, but women never deserve to have their bodies manipulated.

When it comes to liberating Christian sexuality, there is no one-size fits all type of answer. Human sexuality is one of the most complex issues that Christians and non-Christians alike face. Nevertheless, I would like to offer you a few short suggestions for how churches can begin to encourage their teenagers and young adults to feel sexual liberation rather than to feel like repressed sexual beings:

1)      We need to begin to start dialoguing. In my studies I have found that many young adults cannot name a single married couple who they know personally who are good examples to them of what healthy romantic relationships look like. A few more can name a TV or other media example of healthy sexuality, but even then those numbers are few. Rather than to blush at questions, churches and in particular youth and young life pastors need to step up and take the plate when it comes to answering the hard stuff. Church should be the one place where no one feels judged based on their sexual past, where no question should seem silly or should be dodged, and where open and honest discussions are facilitated. We do our youth a huge disservice when we don’t even scratch the surface about sex and instead leave them to figure it out from the world’s point of view.

2)      We need to get outside the myth of what a “good little church girl” acts and looks like. Many Christians tend to believe that they are somehow “above” society. That we don’t look like, act like, or otherwise feel tempted by the same things as the rest of the world does. One time I was at a Tyndale chapel and the guest speaker mentioned something profound. He said, “If I were to give you each a blank sheet of paper and told you to write every sexual thing you have ever done on it, some of you would have nothing and others of you would have the whole page filled up and need more paper. DON’T EVER ASSUME that just because you go to a Christian school that people here haven’t done sexual things.” He has a point. As pastors and church leaders, we can’t assume that people in our youth group aren’t like that. We need to know that whether we are dealing with secular or Christian youth they have the exact same struggles.

3)      We need to learn what God says and how God feels about healthy sexuality. The “purity” culture is one example of how many evangelicals feel Christian youth should respond to sexuality and it has had its place. However, it is not a cure-all and also has its downfalls. [1] Our world, unfortunately has completed twisted, warped, and destroyed what healthy sexuality looks like. The media exploits women, teaches men that they have to act a certain way to truly be masculine, and makes it feel that preteens who don’t have an interest in boys have something wrong with them. As a church we need to take a stand against these false claims and be counter-cultural. Our world is riddled with pornography and addictive behaviours, with the abuse of women, and with over-sexualized music, films, and advertisements.

It completely breaks God’s heart when one of the best gifts He has given us is used to shame, hurt, or dishonour another. God has so much more planned for us than this! He wants sex to be an intimate and loving expression between two people meant to build up and honour the marriage bed. He wants it to be sacred – not scary.

There is a temptation in our society to view the sex trade and sex trafficking as something that happens far away from us – in other countries. We view prostitution as an issue only in inner cities and rough neighbourhoods. But when we do that, we forget that there is so much exploitation happening right in front of us. Parents, I would urge you to take a look at the books, movies, and television shows your children are consuming. Become aware of the lies our culture is placing in their young minds and talk with them about what healthy sexuality looks like.

Both men and women need to be discipled by the church and by their parents to understand how to properly respect and treat the other gender. There should be absolutely no tolerance for using sex as a weapon – to violate, exploit, or manipulate. There should be absolutely no tolerance for using sex to receive favours, money, or drugs. That’s not what sex is about! That’s completely ruining what God had in mind!

Sexual liberation can only happen once we begin to be open and honest with ourselves and with our youth. It can only happen once we decide to take a stand against society’s viewpoints and instead choose God’s viewpoints. It’s not an easy road. Many times we will fall, but when that happens we need to pick ourselves up and entrust ourselves solely to relying on Christ. Only then, can God’s reign of peace and justice take place in our lives and in the fullness of our humanity!

For some great sermon material on this topic check on Benjamin Nolot’s sermons from IHOPKC’s OneThing 2013 Conference: http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/#asset/EAC75216-D42C-6B8C-3313-4AB8517C8BF5/auto/true

http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/#asset/595775C4-8649-3384-A0A6-4AED853686AC/auto/true

Declaration: http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/#asset/q33kjGHa43Xme8tKJ69xtUzU6jgQRrF_/auto/true

http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/#asset/Rh4pXpm28ZnNpZ2e0F08LZtOQPUzLdFD/auto/true

 

[1] While I may not agree with everything in this blog post, this author raises some very interesting points about the evangelical purity culture and starts a good discussion basis as to whether the purity culture is ultimately helpful or hurtful to its young adults: http://theotherjournal.com/2014/03/03/naked-and-ashamed-women-and-evangelical-purity-culture/

 

Reclaiming the Multicultural Reality of Heaven (Mennocostal: IHOPKC, Onething2013 Series)

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Racists must hate heaven.  The reason I use such a strong statement to begin this discussion is simply because heaven is the most multi-cultural place that we can ever imagine.  The Bible tells us that people from all different tribes, tongues, and walks of life will be there.[1]  People who were “good little church girls” and people who were mass criminals will be together all because of one single purpose – in the end of the day they came to truly know Christ and Christ forgives a multitude of sin.[2]  One cannot be a racist and still enjoy all that heaven has to offer them because there is no class distinction, no racial segregation, and no division between the genders.[3]  Heaven is not the place for racists. 

During my time at International House of Prayer, I was able to see just a glimpse of what Heaven would be like.  Obviously the whole experience, as profoundly life altering as it was is only a small taste of what the real heaven will be like, but it really emphasized to me in a way that I have never thought about before how truly diverse and majestically colourful our eternal reality will be.

One of the most touching encounters of praise that I had during this conference was to walk through a sea of worshipers.  I was worshiping at the very front and began to walk back to my seat during the last song.  As I walked I saw thousands of Christians – some old, some young, some new believers, some who have walked with Christ for years.  Church leaders and genuine seekers.  Some weeping, some on their knees, several singing.  As I walked, I heard tongues, saw complete strangers prophesying over one another, even saw a few lying prostrate.  I was greatly encouraged!  How great to know that this is just a small sample of the millions of genuine prayers that go up to Christ daily.  How wonderful to know that this is what heaven will be like all day every day.[4]  It reminds me that we are not alone, indeed we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses![5]

If you think worshiping with over 30,000 people is incredible, think of heaven!  Millions of people from all generations and all races worshiping together.  How cool is that?  Kansas City was amazing, but in the end of the day, God sent 30,000 people forth to all corners of the earth.  Here they received encouragement, fellowship, and equipment for works of service.  But it doesn’t stop here.  Not by a long shot.  After leaving Kansas City, we are more ready now to be available to the inspiration and creativity of the Holy Spirit and to serve Him in homes, in communities, and as National and International leaders.  As pastors, teachers, evangelists, and prophetic voices.[6]

God became so close and so personal to us during the conference.  He awakened, refreshed, and revived us.  How incomparable to know that this is but a small glimpse, a tiny sliver, of who He is.  As long as we have this flesh, this earthly body, we see dimly.[7]  Through a glass which distorts His image (but not His love to us).  But one day when we are with Him and receive our heavenly bodies, we will know Him fully, completely.  Nothing will distort our impression of Him.  We will know everything about His love and care.  We will know Him fully in the same way that He knows us!

While we live on this earth we go through birth pains.[8]  We groan and we long to be delivered into the heavenly reality of what lies ahead.  We may be comfortable on this earth, but if we truly seek Christ then like the Quakers we will embrace the fact that we are “just a traveling through”. Yet, until we reach heavenly perfection, we also must embrace all the lessons that come our way as we traverse this path called life.  As the Apostle Paul brilliantly states, “more than anything else, however, we want to PLEASE Him.  Whether that be in our home here or there.”[9]  Pleasing Christ in each aspect of our lives – in our marriages, our families, our professions, is what we are called to do.  And that calling, that mission will not change once we pass on to the next world.  Instead, that calling to PLEASE Christ and to give Him our whole self always continues to glow and burn deeper and brighter.  The more we are walking with Christ, the more that longing is present.

No, my friends.  Heaven is no place for racists, but heaven is definitely the place for the child of God who seeks to please Him.  Heaven is the place for all saints who long to bow before Christ is worship, offering their whole selves to Him daily as they yearn to belong to that heavenly reality.


Delivering a Prophetic Vision (Mennocostal IHOPKC Onething2013 Series)

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“And it shall come to pass afterwards,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29 – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joel%202:28-29&version=ESVUK)

Have you ever met someone who was so in-tune with the Word of God and could hear God’s voice so clearly that they spoke tremendous truths into your life and brought immense encouragement into a situation that you never even addressed with them personally?  If so, it is very likely that you have met someone with the prophetic gift!

Now before you start getting carried away and thinking that all of this is just some type of Charismatic hoopla, let me stop you for a minute and explain the gift of prophesy.

Before going to IHOPKC, I personally had a lot of doubts about prophesy.  I didn’t grow up in a church which believed in the prophetic gifts, and I had never received a prophesy myself which made any degree of sense. At least I didn’t think I had.  But that’s because I had the wrong idea of what prophesy was!  Like many people, I believed that prophesy was some type of fortune telling akin to the lady with the crystal ball and tarot cards.  I believed prophets to largely be people who were making things up for the sake of gaining attention.  However, at IHOP I acquired a different understanding of what prophesy is.  Sometimes a prophet might be able to speak a word into your life concerning some future event which is to take place, however, more often than not it is about confirming stirrings which others have already started to feel, encouraging individuals 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.[1]  People who exercise the prophetic gifts often have a keen sense of observation, a deep level of empathetic compassion which enables them to literally feel the needs and hurts of others, and an ability to pray through the Spirit in an intercessory way which the average young Christian cannot.  Prophets also must have enormous Spiritual maturity as it is a gift which has great potential to be abused.  It is for this reason that when someone prophesies over you it becomes very important to be on your guard and to use discernment before accepting a Word from the Lord for there are many false prophets in our generation.[2]  It is also important to test all the Spirits to see if the Spirit behind the Word is coming from God or a person’s wrongful desires.[3]  You will know that the Word comes from God if it brings you encouragement or admonition into an area of your life that you have been seeking out God’s will for and if it comes as reinforcement or reassurance to questions already brought before the Lord.  On the other hand, if the Word seems to go contrary to other doctrinal teachings and contradicts Scripture itself, you can be sure that there is some reason to raise a level of concern about the Prophetic Utterance.[4]  Finally, if the Word is truly from God, it should also be consistent.  Therefore, the teaching of Prophesy is to ask at least one or two other prophets to see if they receive the same direction from God concerning your life.[5]  If all the prophets reveal the same message than you can be sure that the prophets truly had the gift of God.  On the other hand, if a prophet mentions something unsettling to you or which does not seem to fit and you approach other prophets who do not have the same Word for you and the Words seem to be entire disconnected, it may be possible that you have come into contact with at least one false prophet!   That’s not to say that God will never disturb you through a Prophetic Word.  Just like the Prophet Nathan, sometimes God calls us to prophesy difficult realities over others on topics we would much rather avoid or which are somewhat unpleasant.[6]  Yet, even when God brings our sin to light, a true Prophet should be able to also deliver some level of hope to the situation.

The most common form of prophesy is likely in the form of Prophetic Utterances of Scripture.  If you listen to the majority of people who truly have the gift of prophesy, you will notice that somewhere between 80-95% of what they are saying is either Scripture word for word or messages which are hidden within the Scriptures.  They aren’t just pulling words out of the air, rather they are saying specific verses which are able to speak truth into your circumstance.  Prophetic Utterances of Scripture are verses which are spoken at the right time and in the right way.  Just like the book of Proverbs tells us, “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”[7]  This is yet another way to test if a person is truly prophetic or not.  If you have doubts, you can think back to what they told you and try to match it up with the actual Word of God.  A true prophet cannot contradict what God Himself says!  Oftentimes, when people prophesy they may be able to give it to you in writing or via a recording.  This makes it even easier to look back at their prophesy to not only see if it came true, but also to see if it is following the Word of God.[8]

Sometimes people have this mistaken understanding that prophesy will reveal something life altering to them.  However, this is often not the case.  For the most part, prophesy simply confirms stirrings that have already been in your heart for quite some time or things that you have been praying about (or have been on your mind) for a while.  These thoughts or images that have been pressing on your soul for the last little while may not be anything grand, they may not be a new calling or a new life direction, but nevertheless, hearing a prophet declare truth over the situation you are struggling with can still bring much encouragement.  Oftentimes, these confirmations can be revealed to a prophet during prayer.  Be wary of a prophet who prophesies without first opening in a word of prayer.  Often the Holy Spirit must be tapped into and invited into our midst so that we can truly discern the Word of God.  Without asking the Spirit to come we are simply taking words at random and hoping that they will somehow apply to the situation.

Also, do not doubt your own personal experiences and what Christ is teaching you.  Often a prophetic word which God has given directly to you concerning your own life can be used as a prophesy to others.  Sometimes I have been in a group of people and been able to sense a certain struggle and other times I have simply shared in general terms what Christ had been laying on my heart or teaching me only to hear murmurs from others that that was also a word to them.  Sometimes people were truly encouraged because it felt to them like God was giving a direct Word to them, even though in reality I was just sharing what Christ was teaching me that day.  That’s how prophesy happens sometimes.  It can happen organically.

The very first times I received a prophetic word, I had so many doubts that I often went in with this type of attitude that the prophet should be able to reveal everything about me even though they had never met me before.  I thought that prophesy was exactly like having a tarot card reading.  However, I soon learned that God does not reveal everything about your situation to someone even if they have the strongest gift of prophesy that you will ever encounter.  Personally, I believe this is one way that God protects us.  Sometimes, like in King David’s case, the exact sin is laid before the Prophet.[9]  However, more often than not, our personal sins simply stay between God and us.  There is no reason for a prophet to know all that is going on in our minds and our hearts.  In many instances God only gives as much knowledge to a prophet as is beneficial to the relationship and will bring healing and wholeness to us.  It is for this reason that I’ve had many people minister to me prophetically in ways that were so specific they could not be generic without the person ever saying specifically what I was struggling with.  They may not have known the circumstance, but God revealed enough to them about it that they could deliver a prophetic word which let me know that it was directly from God and that God had given them a specific insight and filled them with compassion because of it. 

I think part of the reason that IHOP has become such a controversial movement is simply because they DO place so much emphasis on the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I do not agree with every teaching that IHOP espouses on prophesy, however, I think that perhaps the fact that it is controversial means that maybe, just maybe, they are doing the work of Christ who taught us that “if they hate you, keep in mind that they hated Me first.”[10]  Jesus used strong language here.  He didn’t say, “if they don’t get along with you”, “if they aren’t buddy-buddy with you,” or “if they don’t really like you.” NO.  He said, if they HATE you.  If they persecute you.[11]  If they say all kinds of evil things against you.[12]  Our culture, even our churches, have become so politically correct.  So cautious about offense.  There’s nothing politically correct about the Gospels!  The fact that IHOP is offensive to some shows that to a degree they have gone back to the Biblical roots of Christ!

Perhaps gifts of the Holy Spirit are as foreign to you as living cross-culturally.  Perhaps you don’t know where you stand.  But maybe that’s the point.  Maybe the point is to begin to question and to begin to search out the Scriptures fervently and ask God and trusted mentors in prayer what it’s all about.  Maybe the point is that it will never fully make sense to us until we reach glorious perfection – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  If I understood it would take away the glorious mystery.  But I can still trust and wait regardless.

Actually, it’s crazy looking back at my experience with prophesy and prophetic utterances.  Now that I have a deeper and clearer understanding of what prophesy means I realize that I have often experienced it, sometimes even by people who don’t even believe in the prophetic gifts!   I have experienced words of prophesy as interpretations of tongues, as encouragement from peers at Tyndale who spoke into a circumstance without even knowing it fully, and through the occasional dream or vision which God gifted me with and left me with a burning to passionately intercede for someone in need of prayer.  Yet, until recently, I didn’t even know that those instances were examples of prophesy!  It’s so cool when I think of the fact that I, who once was sceptical, have been so filled with the Holy Spirit both during and after the IHOP conference that I have almost completely forgotten what it’s like to not believe in the charismatic gifts.  I almost catch myself asking the former Deborah, “how could you not see it?  It was happening right before your eyes the entire time!”  But that’s the beauty of grace and faith.  That’s the beauty of realizing that I never knew what it was called so I could not claim it as a lovely blessing sent right from the lap of God.

Not everyone has the gift of giving prophesy, but all of us who are Christians have the ability to strengthen our capacity to hear the Voice of the Bridegroom and through being attentive to that Voice to offer encouragement and support to others.[13]  Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s some further info about prophesy if you’re interested: http://www.kingwatch.co.nz/Prophetic_Ministry/testing_prophets.htm

 


Expecting Big Things From God (Mennocostal: IHOPKC Onething 2013 Series)

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The New Year just rolled in a week ago and already I am finding it hard to keep the resolutions that I have made.  It’s not like I made any goals which were beyond grasp.  Rather, I thought back to all that I had learned during my week at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and from the sermons, worship, and personal prayer times gathered three items which I felt God impressing on my heart.  These items were: to do the night watch twice a week, to fast from all forms of social media once a week, and to read the Bible 15 minutes every day.  Yet, even though my heart remains willing, my flesh stays weak.  It is hard for me to have the same vibrancy in worship even though only a week ago I was on fire for Christ.  It is hard to not be surrounded by that same culture of prayer but to continue to be steadfast and secure in the Word.

Yet, as I was worshiping and reading the Scripture last night during my night watch, I realized that we can spend so much time making New Year’s Resolutions, and there is nothing wrong with that!  It honours God when we try to maintain our physical bodies in a way that edifies Him.[1]  He rejoices when we conquer temptations which once controlled us.  He loves it when we dedicate time to figuring out more of who He is.  He even loves it when we are willing to spend more time being better financial stewards.  But in the end of the day, it’s really not so much about our goals, it’s about what God’s dream for our life in 2014 is.  What His dream in our marriages and families is and what His dream in our church is.  It’s less about our will and desires and more about His mission for our lives.  When we offer up our lives and our churches as a prayerful offering to Him we are letting Him know of our desire to have Him build the house/ministry so that we don’t have to keep labouring in vain![2]      

Making 2014 a Year Covered in Prayer: Every great ministry begins and ends with prayer.  Every great ministry is surrounded by a group of people who support it through prayer and who offer encouragement to the intercessory missionaries who surround it.  It is through prayer that we are able to discern God’s will and direction for our personal lives and for our churches.  It is also through prayer that God gives us the grace to accept failure and to know when a certain ministry is to be completed.

How powerful it would be, how much change we would see – even mountains moving if EACH believer, each church, each community of faith, each ministry, gave even a dedicated small fraction of each day to Christ.  Even if they didn’t feel like it.  The prayers of the struggling and the cries of the doubting are often the most precious and meaningful to Christ.[3]  How great would it be even if we only started with one hour, even just 15 minutes a day.  We would see God accomplish great things.  We will see our attitudes change.  We would see the hearts of the nations be moved and stirred.[4]

It can become easy to be discouraged with the concept of prayer if you always think about prayer as being a prolonged time with Christ.  I want to say to you: God loves and needs BOTH the short and the long prayers.  He needs the breath prayers, because as one of my best friends says, “they make prayer as real as breathing”.  He also needs intercessors who will pray the night watch dedicating an entire working shift to the work of the Kingdom.

In the end of the day, it’s definitely more about the quality of time rather than the quantity.  One can sit with Christ for 3 hours accomplishing nothing and having no real and intimate expression of worship.  Likewise, in half an hour, someone can have gloriously divine fellowship with the Creator.  Yet, there is still something to be said of the immense effort and dedication of spending a significant block of time with Christ.  It calls for a challenging of former priorities and a shifting of what is truly important.  If you want to gain maturity in Christ, it will only happen through spending time with Him.  The more we get to know Him, the more we fall in love with Him.  The more our lives begin to reflect more of who He is in and through us.

The Bible tells us that if we have faith we will be able to see even mountains move.[5]  There can be a temptation to take this verse literally.  To literally believe that God will move physical objects.  I don’t doubt the power of Christ and the fact that He could devote His energy to that if He wished to.  Perhaps that truly is the case in some countries.  HOWEVER, in the North American context I have come to interpret this in a different light.  God promises that with faith, we can move mountains – insurmountable barriers and obstacles that others face.  Areas of our lives that we’ve tried to change and addictions we’ve tried to break, but can’t.  Moving those areas of oppression and bondage of habitual sin and unholy desires out of the way by the instruction of the Holy Spirit and through the power of the Love of Christ so that they (and we) can catch just a glimpse of Christ’s incredible mercy towards us!

THE LORD ACCOMPLISHED GREAT THINGS AT IHOP

Corporate Worship

One thing about IHOP that I just could never get out of my mind was the fact that over 30,000 young adults were joined together in one building all worshiping and praising the same Lord.  People often wonder where the young adults in the church are.  They believe that the institutional church is dying out.  Yet, when you see the size of a small city gathered together you are able to become encouraged!  You know that faith still abounds.  You know that God is not finished with this generation yet!

The Prophet Isaiah writes that in the last days, nations will STREAM to the house of the Lord, and yet we resist this.[6]  We are afraid to see it happening.  We hold it out at an arm’s length.  Sometimes when thousands are worshiping we label it as brainwashing.  Even a cult.  Why?  Didn’t Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Wesley and others witness thousands of salvations in a single week?  Did not the Holy Spirit use the ministry of John the Baptist and of the early church Apostles in the book of Acts to fill thousands with the Spirit?  Every day the Lord added to their number![7]  Why should that change?  Why are we afraid to enter that dance?  Why do we doubt the supernatural love of Christ that wants to see all people and all nations come to Him?  The love of the One who said that He is willing that none should perish, but wants everyone to experience an indwelling of His eternal Spirit?[8]

The young adults of this generation grew up in a “me-centered” culture which says that they are number one.  From a young age they are taught to get to the top at any cost.  They are taught that it’s a “dog-eat-dog” world.  Yet, here at IHOP, I saw 100 nations and over 30,000 young adults[9] willing to give up their vacations and school breaks to go to a church conference.  In an individualistic, entitled world, this is pure craziness!  Many people think the church is dying, but there are still thousands of faithful young men and women heading God’s call for real relationship on their life.  30,000+ people worshiping in Kansas City, MO.  The American Midwest.  What if movements of this magnitude sprung up everywhere?  If thousands of young adults and teenagers who love Jesus gathered weekly, even daily, to worship and pray all over the world?  What a movement would start!  How incredible the Holy Spirit’s outpouring would be on our generation!

A Personal God Even in the Midst of a Great Crowd

One thing I just could never get over during my time at IHOP was the sheer magnitude of the effect that this prayer movement has had on this global generation.  It’s super intense to think about how God greatly impacted these 30,000+ people.  We were all together to worship the same God, and yet God, because He is creative said 30,000 different things to us.  He inspired us in 30,000 different ways.  He gave us thousands of different callings.  But it’s all for the same God, for the same purpose, and for the same mission – the mission of bringing His reign to this earth!  30,000 different experiences and 30,000 separate spiritual encounters.  It’s just incredible how the Holy Spirit works.  How’s He can call so many people to the same mission in so many different contexts, cities, and nations, at the same time.  After experiencing such a thing there is no possible way I could continue to doubt Christ’s love for the church and His heart for this world! 

It is incredible beyond comprehension to think that Jesus knows every single person who attended this conference by Name![10]  He loves each one with an everlasting love.  He never gets tired of loving because He IS love.[11]  Not only does He know everyone’s name, but He knows everything about them.   He knows all of their ups and downs.  Their weaknesses and victories.  And He LOVES them even despite what they have gone through in their lives.  Even despite their vilest sins.  He has given each one a unique personality and unique abilities – no one can take their place.  He has placed each one on this earth at this time to impact this generation.[12]  In my lowly humanity I can’t even comprehend knowing 1,000 people or even 500 people to half of the extent that God knows each one of His children.  I can’t even imagine loving 100 people to half of the extent that God loves the one stray sinner who is lost in their world of grief.[13] 

On December 31st, 2013, all 30,000 of us ushered in the New Year and that was truly an incredible experience to be a part of.  So many people celebrate New Year’s in ways that don’t honour Christ.  Their celebrations include partying, drinking to heavy excess leading to drunken mobs, and strippers.  There are people who are flippantly make resolutions with no resolve to keep them, having change as the farthest idea from their mind.  Some entered the New Year feeling incredibly lost and confused.  Even hopeless.  Left out and abandoned.  2013 did not bring many good things to them – only high medical bills, loss of employment, or the death of a close relative or friend.  But here, at IHOP, over 30,000 young adults gathered in one place ushering in the New Year with an outpouring of tongues and cries of the Spirit.  Here 30,000 people sat and stood ministering to the Nations in incredible ways while the world moved on unrelentingly gratifying the flesh.  What a ministry!  Just like a Song of Song says, we are called out to be lilies among brambles![14]  And that’s exactly what we did that day as we sang and proclaimed the love of Christ over the Nation and over the world!

A Personal Understanding of Greatness in the Spirit

If IHOP taught me one thing, it’s that as long as you are open to the Holy Spirit He will heal, restore, and manifest Himself in miraculous ways.  The Holy Spirit manifests Himself to the extent that we allow Him to.  He accomplishes as much through us as we permit Him to.  If we don’t see evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it’s because we don’t expect greatness from Him.  We don’t have because we haven’t asked![15]*  Had we but simply have asked, we would see even greater things than these in our generation![16]  The Word tells us that God knows how to give good gifts to His children.[17]  These good gifts include intense manifestations of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, and blessings beyond comprehension.[18]

As Misty Edwards shared in one of her sermons, “lukewarmness is the greatest danger of our age.  It’s a subtle indifference in our churches even though we still use the language of Christ – it’s the exact opposite of the person of God.  We cannot survive lukewarm.”[19]  Misty encouraged us that with Christ we either go in the whole way or not at all.   Lukewarmness leads us to a certain numbness.  As Misty boldly proclaimed, “you cannot survive lukewarm!”

Although Misty had so many great applications to her message, I found the historical significance to be the most interesting.  As a student of Theology this kind of stuff just grabs my attention so quickly and I eat it up.  As Misty stated in no uncertain terms, this writing was to the church of Laodicea.  They were a church who had a great reputation for being on fire for the love of Christ.  So this message was not being written to the lost, the sinners, the pagans – it was being written to a core group of believers who had just experienced the revival of the early church![20]  Even though people all around them saw them as being zealous for Christ, God saw them as little more than rotten out corpses.  He used harsh language – He said they made Him SICK!  Have you ever thought of that before?  Being indifferent to the love of Christ and His reconciling mission to the world “makes God ill”.[21]  Watching the poor go to bed hungry and not caring makes God come down with flu-like symptoms (which is just a polite way of me saying… it makes God throw-up). [Hey, St. Paul used this kind of language himself often in the Scriptures].

Our nation has confused ideas about what real man-hood is.  They think that being a man is about being powerful, being mighty, and being able to have control.  They also have confused ideas about what true woman-hood is.  They think a woman’s identity is solely tied up in her beauty, her looks, and how much of a feminist she can become.  Do you want to know what true man-hood is?  It’s being able to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and keeping yourself pure in a world that tries to lure you in to sexual sin and temptation![22]  Do you want to know what being a true woman is?  It’s being able to have a quiet spirit![23]  It’s being able to have a good name and have inner beauty![24] 

You cannot be lukewarm and be a true man or a true woman after Christ!  If you want to be a man [woman] after God’s own heart, then you have to KNOW God fully.[25]  Just like He knows you fully.[26]

Our world often teaches us that we need to BEWARE OF EMOTIONALISM.  Yet, our emotions are so precious to God.  When we experience emotions we are alive.  Pouring out our hearts and crying out to the Father may be as far from my ESTJ personality as Kansas City is from Toronto, but still if I want to grow in my faith and mature in the way I view God, I can’t push it to the side.  Instead I must embrace it.

Our culture is obsessed with short-term success – but that glory and fame easily fades to God.  Banning Liebscher (member of Jesus Culture) preached a sermon to us about how LONGEVITY MATTERS TO GOD.[27]  He told us that when God first calls us it’s easy to get passionate.  Fired up.  But then it’s easy to forget about the love we first embraced the call with.  That’s lame man!  It’s like the immature boyfriend who gives you a ring then takes it back the very next day.  It’s like the person who looks in the mirror, fixes his hair, and fiddles with his tie then goes out and forgets what he looks like.[28]  He forgets if his eyes are blue or brown.  If his hair is black or blonde. God is calling us to more than that!  He’s the Lover who wants us to remain faithful to Him and His calling no matter how hard it gets.  No matter how steep the path is.  It’s easy to start.  It’s easy to catch the vision.  What’s hard is persevering.  What’s hard is “burning longterm”.[29] 

Let’s be honest.  No one cases how many Facebook friends you have.  How many blogs I’ve written.  In the end of the day, God’s not going to be like, “whoa!  You wrote a lot of books” or “you recorded a lot of albums!”  That isn’t success!  Success is hearing the phrase “well done, good and faithful servant.”[30]  Success is knowing your heart is so intertwined with God’s that it’s inseparable.  If you accomplish great things for God, which you will, if you reach the nations, which you will, if you acquire any measure of earthly success, which you will – it’s only because of Christ!  He uses you to the extent that you are willing to let Him use you!  It’s not about people remembering you – it’s about pointing people to remember Christ!

Success is an attitude of the heart.  It’s not about small or large scale projects.  Showing love to your family and closest friends is just as important to your success as a missionary as showing love to the world.  That’s why when we start ministering we need to begin by praying for revival within our own families, within our own marriages, within our own dating experiences, BEFORE we can even THINK about praying for revival in our nation and in our world! 

There was one day when I was in the prayer room at IHOP and God came to me and very clearly told me “read the Song of Solomon.”  I was like, “that’s random, God.  Are you sure?”  God’s like, “yeah”.  Then as soon as I start reading, the worship team begins singing the Song of Songs![31]  As soon as that happened I was just sitting back and thinking “whoa! This is a Word from the Lord!”  Then as I read the words to this ancient love song every verse comes alive, speaks to me, makes me lovesick for Him!

Do you want true success?  True success is when that happens not just once but more often than not.  When you and God become so tight that when people speak to you, you hear Christ in them.  When experiences happen to you, you see the finger of God in them.  When you read Scripture you feel like it’s personally edifying and speaking a word into your soul.  A word of encouragement you needed to hear which you can no longer ignore.  When that starts to happen, you know that you have become a successful person.  Even if people a world over still don’t know your name and even if your bank account hasn’t grown exponentially.  You are still a successful person in God’s eyes and in the end of the day that’s all that really matters.

A Final Word

Finally, I leave you with a final word of encouragement that I received from one of the teaching outlines in our conference handout book by IHOPKC leader, Stuart Greaves.  His teaching simply states, “there is coming the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29)[32] that will result in a unified and glorious end-time church (Ephesians 5:27)[33], the preaching of the Gospel with power to all of the nations (Matthew 24:14)[34], the greatest release of signs and wonders (John 14:21)[35], and the salvation of Israel (Isaiah 62:7[36]; Romans 11:26[37]).”[38]

If what you just read in Greaves’s quote makes you want to see this change come about in our world and in our nation all you got to do is simply trust God that it will happen.  When you love Christ and when you pour your whole heart and ministry into Him THEN you will see the King of Glory high and lifted up![39]


[3] From “Better than a Hallelujah” By: Amy Grant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

[9] These numbers do not even begin to include those tuning in to the conference via God T.V. and online webstreaming (bringing the numbers up by several more thousand)

[15] http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%204:2-3&version=ESVUK (* If you think God isn’t doing great things in your life is it because He isn’t doing great things or because you aren’t ALLOWING or believing that He will do great things?)

[19] Sermon by Misty Edward at the OneThing IHOPKC Conference

[21] Illustration used in Misty Edward’s OneThing sermon

[27] Sermon by Banning Liebscher at IHOPKC Onething 2013 conference

[29] A phrase Banning used in his sermon

[31] One cool thing about IHOPKC is that they literally SING the words of Scripture.  They have the passage on the screen and accompany it line by line, word by word, to musical scores.

[38] “Standing in the Watches of the Night” outline to Stuart Greave’s sermon at IHOPKC OneThing 2013 conference, found on page 73 of the “2013 Teaching Notes” Handout Book

[39] From the song: Hosanna by Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgJYNlDhY-4

KEEPING PACE WITH CHRIST IN THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT (MENNOCOSTAL: IHOPKC ONETHING2013 SERIES)

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“At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgements.” (Psalm 119:62)[1]

“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word.” (Psalm 119:148)[2]

ALL Christians are called to pray without ceasing.[3]  All Christians are called to approach the Throne Room of Grace with thanksgiving and intercession, and all are called to pray for the leaders of the Nations.[4]  As a Christian our first and primary responsibility to Christ is in the form of prayerful adoration.  Every great ministry begins, ends, and is completely encompassed in prayer.

To the unsaved onlooker, prayer may seem so minimal.  Activists may wonder, “why don’t they go out and feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Shelter the destitute?”  All of these things are very good and social justice is one of the most important ways that a Christian can minister and proclaim their faith.  HOWEVER, prayer is the ONLY way a Christian can develop the necessary heart that they need to not only begin this ministry but to follow it through until completion.  Prayer is the only way they can be sustained in their calling to serve the poor when they start to feel weak or when they become discouraged because of their lack of progress.  Prayer is the only place they can come to recharge their batteries and find rest and solitude in Christ to be refreshed to keep going.

Therefore, what I want to say is simply this: prayer is the greatest of all ministries!  Is your best friend struggling? Do you want to give them the greatest gift you possibly can? Pray for their healing and comfort!  Is someone in grief, surround them with verses of comfort and prayers for deliverance![5]

Being a prayer warrior is NOT an easy call in the least.  There are some people who are more naturally pray-ers than others, just as there are some who can more naturally sing and more naturally preach.  HOWEVER everyone has the opportunity to build their gift of prayer according to the grace given by God and be strengthened in their capacity to pray for families, nations, and the church!

To the world, prayer may look like it’s not accomplishing much.  Just saying a bunch of words to a Being we can’t even see, but to the committed Christian, prayer is the greatest weapon against all forms of oppression and Spiritual warfare.  It is the greatest declaration of victory and the greatest hedge of protection.

What is Night Watch?

Although all Christians are called to pray, God has selected a core group of individuals who are committed to praying during the hours of 12am-6am.  The purpose of this group is as follows:

Believers who will combine prayer, intercession, and worship to encourage Christians around the world in different time zones and to pray against the present areas of darkness in this world.  Proclaiming Christ’s return until He comes again.  Declaring freedom from oppression and bondage.  Until the Holy Spirit completely outpours Himself on the earth.

Those who feel called by God to intercede at both the physically and spiritually darkest times of the day are on a unique mission to allow God to change the hearts of the nation and of individuals during the very hours when sin abounds.  For where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more![6]

Individuals who are called to the Night Watch have a unique mission which God will use to magnify His Kingdom, however, being part of the Night Watch is far from easy!  People who truly are dedicated must be willing to completely alter their priories, even giving up other social activities in order to serve God in this way.  Given its intense nature, many believers see the Night Watch as a type of “Social Fast.”

Although people who pray during the Night Watch add blessings to the Kingdom work of God, believers who are called to pray during the day are no less precious to God.  For God has called some to pray during the day, some during the night, and others to encourage these faithful intercessors.  Each one is called according to their abilities and unique ministries.

Scriptural Understandings: There are many verses in the Bible which speak to this attitude of 24/7 prayer and place special emphasis on the need for a few believers to pray during the night, although before IHOP I didn’t even know that such a ministry existed! 

One really great example of someone who was committed to living a life of 24/7 prayer was the prophetess Anna.  As we read in Luke 2:36-38, after Anna had become a widow she continued to live in the house of the Lord, daily serving Him and praying night and day.[7]  As Mike Bickle stated in one of his sermons at the conference, “Anna is a prophetess, and intercessor, an evangelist.”  She fasted and prayed which was not a call to disengagement, but rather a call to be deeply involved in the ministry of God (Mike Bickle).

We also know from the Gospel of Matthew, that Jesus may come like a thief in the night.[8]  When Jesus was tempted in the garden on the last day of his earthly reality he longed for a companion to keep watch with him during the night, however, he could find no one.[9]  When Christ comes again, let’s not be like the virgins who weren’t ready for His coming and had to wake up.  Rather, let’s be alert and waiting in expectation for His arrival.[10]

Please allow me to highlight a few of the verses that have given me comfort since I began my ministry and helped confirmed to me that the Lord was leading me in this direction:

Malachi 1:11[11]

“Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the House of the Lord.  Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord.  May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 134:1-3; this is a whole chapter dedicated to the Night Watch!)

“The Light shines in the DARKNESS and the DARKNESS has not overcome it.” – John 1:5[12]

“O God of my Salvation, I cry out DAY and NIGHT before You!” – Psalm 88:1[13]

1 Peter 2:9[14]

Lamentations 2:19

The following Scripture Verses all talk about long hours of prayer:

Isaiah 62:7-8

Mark 1:35

Mark 6:46

Luke 5:16

Luke 6:12

Luke 9:18

Luke 9:28

Other Reasons for Being Involved: From research on Spiritual warfare as well as talking about warfare with other believers who have been involved in the battle, I have discovered that often warfare can feel the strongest in the night or early morning hours.  This is especially so in geographical pockets where there are cults, sorcery, and demonic worshipful activity.  Make no mistake, beloved, often North American Christians feel like this does not apply to them.  They feel like demonic activity only happens in third world nations, far away from where they are in their comfortable houses.  However, this is not so.  In many areas around North America there is still much evil and wickedness.  People have chosen the dark rather than the light.  They worship false gods and idols of greed, lust, and addictions at any cost.  Even at the cost of their own souls.  There is violence on the streets at night that many of us are not even aware of.  Perhaps this may not be so in your own town, however, I guarantee you that regardless of where you live within a few hour’s drive there is darkness in the town over.  Yet even though the night threatens to conceal the deeds of darkness, Christ has promised to bring them to light, to expose them, and we CAN be agents to usher in that change![15]

So, this evil and depravity are happening, and the saints who are called to shine like stars, through no fault of their own have fallen asleep.[16]  Their eyelids are heavy and after a long hard day of work they are ready to call it a night.  However, while they sleep, the battle of the cosmos has only just begun!

As faithful servants slumber, the college student who has been staying up all night to write a paper that was due yesterday begins to be plagued by their insecurities and failures.  They begin to feel vulnerable.  Diabetic patients at the local hospital begin to have their blood levels dip to increasingly dangerous levels while bored nurses scuffle around checking only one patient at a time.  Many experiencing PTSD and depression are plagued by nightmares and young children cry because they experience night terrors.  Many believers who are struggling because of loss of employment, a death in the immediate family, or a personal crisis can suddenly awake in the middle of the night filled with anxiety, feeling completely lost and alone, and not sure who to call because none of their closest friends are awake and if they call their family they will immediately feel like an emergency has just happened.

Yet, how incredibly beautiful to know that during the night – whether you are that college student, that diabetic patient, or that person struggling with depression, that when you suddenly awake in the middle of the night and break out into a cold sweat, when the tempter guilts you, when your fears and failures completely cloud your vision – that there IS someone praying for you.   When you can’t even pray yourself, there is someone interceding on your behalf.  We were never called to silently go through our pain and struggles alone.  That’s not the Christian way.  We were always called to do this Jesus thing in community!

My Calling to the Night Watch: At the very beginning of the IHOPKC One Thing conference I learned about the calling to be part of the night watch.  The minute that I heard about it I knew in my heart that if God made a way for me to be able to pray from 12-6am and if finances and careers weren’t in the question I would do it in a heartbeat.  As the conference progressed and I continued to learn more and more about this unique mission my heart continued to grow with a stronger and stronger desire.  Finally, on the night that Stuart Greaves, an IHOPKC leader who currently staffs and overseas the Night Watch program spoke he invited anyone who felt a calling from God to be part of this ministry to come to the front as people already involved in the night watch prayed over us.  From that time forward I’ve continued to be passionate about this knowing that it is God’s will for me to minister to the nations in this way.

As I was worshipping one day and praying about whether God wanted me to be involved in the night watch I wrote the following in my journal all in block letters, “God is calling me to be an intercessory missionary.  To pray for my community, my city, my country, the world, the global church, and my ministry.  To cry out to God, to intercede with tears and weeping until the Kingdom of God is brought about on earth and until He comes.  He is calling others to join this ministry.  To search His will with prayer and fasting, to use social media for His glory.  To use our gifts fully for His righteousness.  To not care if we are mocked or scorned.  To care more about God and His Kingdom than we care about other people’s opinions or even our own plans and dreams.  He’s calling young men and women to build, to plant, to have vision.[17]  He’s calling the elderly to mentor, to instil disciplines into the next generation, to teach their children and grandchildren to worship the one true God.[18]  We are never too old or too young if we open our entire heart to Him and surrender everything to His mission.  Cry out to Him and join Him in His reconciling work!”

I’m not going to lie, the first time that I tried to do the Night Watch away from IHOP it was very difficult.  As it turns out, worshipping with a group of believers gives me extra energy. Perhaps because I am so extroverted, but more likely than not because you can get encouragement from them when you start to slack.  Being in my room listening to IHOP CDs (as great as they were) didn’t seem to have the same effect.  Even livestreaming the online prayer room (as great as it was) didn’t bring the same vibrancy to my worship.[19]  So, my very first night of praying the night watch ended up being left early.  I had planned to pray from 9pm-2am and instead it ended up being 10pm-12:15am.  At first I felt disappointed with myself.  But then I remembered the words of Christ to his disciples “Could you not even stay awake with Me for ONE hour?”[20]

It’s super easy to get burnt out in a ministry before you’ve even started.  It’s easy to become entrapped in your fears of failure thinking that you’ll never make it.  In reality, prayer is like exercise – it takes time to develop.  Even in non-Christian settings if you ask a Buddhist or Eastern Spiritualist about meditation they will tell you that you work up to it. You start with even 5 minutes of emptying your mind and eventually you meditate for 4 hours.  I’m not advocating for Eastern Spirituality, but the same concept hold here.

I had not had such a deep prayer life as I experienced at IHOP for the past several years and now I was expecting to run a marathon.  You don’t do stuff like that!  You’re going to sprain something and give up running completely!  I used to run cross country – 6ks.  You don’t start with running the full 6k!  You begin with running 2, then 4, and eventually 6.  So, I realized I needed to start small.  Even if I only spend an hour with Christ at the beginning, I’m building up to the fact that eventually I want to be able to spend all night in prayer with Him!  Even if at the very beginning the flesh is weak, the Spirit remains willing![21]

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I still had a lovely time with Christ and meaningful prayerful experience even though by 12:15am I was so tired and had a hard time keeping up.  The truth is, though, that even after praying for 2 hours there was still more that I had on my heart to pray about.  It was an incredible time.  Rather than push myself over the brink and begin to resent it, I left that night more in love with the Night Watch and knowing that I want to come back again in a few days to the quiet place.

My Commitment: The book of Ephesians, perhaps one of the best writings on Spiritual warfare, teaches us that, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”[22]

It is with this understanding and encouragement that I commit to praying in the watches of the night twice a week recognizing that all great ministries begin and end with prayer.  Recognizing that changes happen when prayers continually go up.  Recognizing that God chooses to reveal Himself in incredible ways during the night. 

I know that to the world this will not seem to accomplish much, but if it were not for the prayers of faithful grandmothers, college students, and unlikely Christians our culture would not be pushed towards the Holy Spirit – it is a powerful and incredibly important work!

I also commit to being a prayer line for my family, friends, and church during the Night Watch whereby they can call me during the hours I am praying to receive prayer without fear that they will be waking me up and when they do not know who else to call.  They can also text, email, or Facebook me anytime day or night with prayer requests.  I will continue the cries of the faithful once they are asleep; after they have cried out to God all day I will continue those prayers.

At the moment, my job does not permit the lifestyle of praying 12am-6am so I have had to modify it to 9pm-2am.  However, I continue to trust that if it is the Lord’s Will one day He will allow me the privilege of praying the full night watch.

Hoping On-Board – A Plan of Action for Those Who are New:

If you’ve been reading along and feel a call from God to be part of this ministry, I’d like to encourage you in that area and invite you to begin to pray a shift (probably about 2 hours at the very beginning).  Pray a shift with the intention that once a week you will be interceding intentionally during the night hours and praying against the darkness.  It is a very intentional calling and process.  Additionally, know that your calling could be for a time or for life.  If you are called for a time it does not at all imply inferiority.  Perhaps God will just have different priorities for you in the future.

Know that not everyone is called to intentionally pray at night and that is completely OK.  As mentioned earlier, some are called to the day watches, and others are called to offer encouragement and prayer support for those praying at night.  Regardless of your calling, God will use you to do abundantly magnificent things for His Kingdom work.

The following is a general idea of how I want to do my Night Watch loosely based off of the Anabaptist Prayer Book and the way that we worshipped and prayed while I was at IHOPKC:

12am – We pray for ourselves and those dearest to us

~For God to raise up Godly marriages and Godly families in our Nation

~ For those in Grief

~ For those who need healing

~ For those experiences nightmares, that just like the Prophet Joel declared that God will transform the terrors into prophetic dreams[23]

~ For new mothers who join us at this hour as they take care of new life

~ For the prayer requests offered up at church which we so often forget to acknowledge

1am – We pray for our geographical location (city)

~ Those ensnared by the darkness of this flesh (that You would break bonds of addiction, poverty, and habitual sin and fill them with good things instead)

~ Those who have been defiled because of the sins of others – to fill them with a knowledge that they are loved and that they are made fully complete in You

~ For the homeless in our neighbourhood/area

~ For those involved with gangs and street violence

~ For those afflicted and those who have lost jobs or are in economic hardship

~ For those who face spiritual poverty

2am – We pray for our nation

~ For our political leaders

~ For our spiritual leaders

~ That God would bring change and revival to our nation

~ For the incarcerated

~ For recent immigrants

~ For those who face prejudice and discrimination because of racial violence, sexism, hatred, misunderstandings, or homophobic insults

3am – We pray for our world

~ For Bible poverty to end so that all nations can know the Truth in their heart language

~ For areas where Christians are persecuted and imprisoned – that they will be strengthened and encouraged

 ~ That God will raise up mighty men and women of the Spirit who have gifts of leadership and prophetic insight in every continent and every country

~ For those affected by natural disasters

~ For our environment which is often pillaged and plundered and for areas of the globe which lack access to clean drinking water and other natural resources

~ For children around the globe who are orphans and unable to receive education

~ For areas which are still deeply affected by sexism and places where people worship the spirit of darkness and are held bondage to false gods

~ For racial reconciliation

~ For all missionaries, but especially for those in remote areas and secure countries where their names cannot even be published and where their threat of persecution and even death is a reality

~ For those just now sensing a call to ministry and missions, but not entirely sure what to do with it

~ For Bible and discipleship schools and seminary students everywhere

4am – We offer You other concerns we carry in our hearts

~ For our city as it wakes up and for safety of workers as they travel to their workplaces

~ For all saints to impact their co-workers, employers, and those they serve

~ For our unsaved co-workers and clients

~ For families who have recently experienced abortion to know that Christ truly forgives

~ For families expecting a child and those who face bareness

~ For those without families; for the fatherless to discover God as their true Father

** The point of the schedule is to be a guide for those brand-new to the Night Watch. There is a great deal of flexibility in following the Spirit during the physically and spiritually darkest time of the day.  It’s incredible when we combine prayer, Scripture, meditation, worship, and intercession because they really aren’t separate categories, but intertwined with each other.  Inseperable.  The same things.

However, there is a warning to those who are called to engage in Night Watch which IHOPKC Night Watch Leader, Stuart Greaves states.   “Often during the night activity ceases which may take away from distractions, but can also lead to idleness (which is the greatest enemy of the prayer life)!” 

Nevertheless great blessings also await the child of God who is called to Night Watch and faithfully heeds that call.  Some of these blessings are as follows:
“Glorious communion awaits when you stand with God in the watches of the night.” – Stephen, former IHOPKC Night Watch Intern

“The opportunity to affect the dream lives of believers.” – Stuart Greaves

“A rapid increase of worship.” – Stuart Greaves

 

Yes, there are will be difficult days ahead if you commit to the Night Watch.  There will be days when you will be physically exhausted and want to put it off.  There will be nights when your temptations come out and you are discouraged because you thought you had conquered them long ago through the blood of the Lamb and now they are staring you right in the face.  There will be times when your phone rings and you want to accept a social call.  BUT if you are willing, God will strengthen you in those times and your sacrifice will totally be worth it.  So the question remains, “HOW MUCH IS JESUS WORTH?  WHAT IF I AM CALLED TO THIS FOR THE REST OF MY DAYS (AND NOT JUST FOR A SEASON)?” – Stephen, IHOPKC


[19] You can access IHOPKC’s online prayer room here: http://www.ihopkc.org/prayerroom/

Developing a Posture of Perpetual Prayer (Mennocostal: IHOPKC Onething Series)

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The idea that Christians pray is often a mandate which is taken for granted.  We assume that it is the Christian thing to do and that all Christians pray.  Prayer is, after all, what makes a Christian.  It is the fundamental root of Christianity.  The one action that keeps us living and breathing Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to “pray without ceasing” regardless of our circumstances.[1]  Yet, if only all Christians prayed!  If only all Christians fervently poured out their hearts on a regular basis how different our nations and our world would be!  Indeed we would see miracles happening!  We would truly see blessings taken place in our daily lives.

Prayer is something that I have often struggled with in my own life.  There have definitely been seasons of my life when I have been so on fire for Christ that I have prayed for hours and lived out my life as if it were an aroma to God.[2]  Yet, there have been even more times in my life when I have wrestled with knowing what to say to God.  There are times in my personal life when I am really struggling and when God seems distant and talking to Him seems so much harder than talking to a friend who I have met and gotten to know in person over the past few years.  To be honest, I have often been envious of Moses who was able to talk to God face-to-face in the way a man talks to his best friend![3]

Martin Luther once noted that, “It is the business of tailors to mend clothes and cobblers to fix shoes, and it is the BUSINESS OF CHRISTIANS TO PRAY.”  Christians are to be about their Father’s business, always!  It’s our vocation and our missional calling! 

We know that prayer is important because it is perhaps THE most fundamental teaching in all of Scriptures.  I know of few other topics which have as much teaching devoted to them than prayer and which have been modeled by Christ, Himself, as much as prayer.  Works of justice, righteousness, and compassion are important to the Christian faith and Christians are called to engage in them – but they are secondary to prayer.  Without prayer these works will cease.  Without pray these works are not sustainable!  That’s because, as Mike Bickle (founder and leader of the International House of Prayer movement in Kansas City, MO) states, “prayer and mission are inseparable and both need the prophetic ministry added on to them.”[4]

WHY PRAY?Oftentimes when you meet a very mature Christian, someone who has been through the most difficult things in their own lives, but who still has an unshakeable faith the answer for why they are able to keep carrying on even amidst adversity lies in the fact that they pray!  That they talk to God about whatever’s going on in their life and that He answers even if it is in unexpected ways.  They trust Him to be faithful even when they are not.[5]

Their prayer life has rooted them so deeply in Christ’s love and care for them that their hearts have a completely rock solid foundation.  Even when the highest storm waves crash over the sea or the mightiest tempests blow, they are still standing firm.  They are immoveable.[6]  They can sign with gusto the words to the song which says, “What though my joys and comforts die?  The Lord my Saviour liveth! What though the darkness gather round?  Songs in the night He giveth! No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging.  Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?”[7]

In the book of James we read the following, “Now the prayer offered in faith will make a sick person well.  The Lord will raise him up and he will be healed.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Confess your sins then to each other and PRAY for each other so that you may be HEALED.  The PRAYER of a righteous man is POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE.”

Have you ever seen mountains move?  Have you ever seen the earth turn over and surrender to God?  It’s because faithful people pray!  It’s the prayers of the elderly grandmothers for their grandchildren that impact the world.  It’s the prayers of the drunkard crying out in the dead of night that awakens God’s attention![8]  It’s in the sinner’s cry, the beating of the chest that God hears – it’s NOT in the pious, overly zealous prayer that is full of empty words but no heart![9]

When we pray for our brothers and sisters, God promises to heal them of their afflictions.  He promises to bring them comfort and relief.  He promises forgiveness and complete absolution of any sins.  But James doesn’t just end with that.  He says that not only are we to pray silently in our rooms, but that we should also have prayer meetings where we gather with other believers and are mutually encouraged by the things that Christ is teaching them!  How often I have been in a prayer meeting hearing another brother or sister pray something that the Lord has laid on their heart and in that instance known that that word was meant for me and that God was giving me the same encouragement that He had taught them!  If you are righteous and if you’re living a life that follows after Christ’s heart than it doesn’t matter how long you have been saved, it doesn’t matter how much seminary education you have, and it doesn’t matter if you are able to sing or preach, your prayers are still effective.  Your prayers are still heard by God and He takes notice of them!

A CALLING TO A LIFE OF PRAYER: Throughout my life, I have relegated prayer to the sidelines.  I made it a point to pray before meals and before bed… often my “amen” being muttered in the morning when I had gotten up realizing that I trailed off before I even finished.  As I got older and started to be more involved with non-Christian peers that soon ended up resulting in me not even thinking of praying before meals.  Sometimes I went entire weeks without lifting my heart and voice to Christ!  In the back of my mind, Christ was always there, but He was more like the One I called on when I needed something.  I didn’t spend nearly as much time praising and worshiping Him as He deserved.

However, over the last few years Christ has started tugging on my heartstrings again and reclaiming His rightful place as center of my life.  He has reminded me of my need for Him and how to a believer prayer is the food and water of the soul.  He has reminded me that in order to grow into full Christian maturity I need to spend time in His Word discovering who He is.

With Christ, prayer is a 24/7 lifestyle, it’s not simply a once in a while type deal.  It’s not good enough just to pray at breakfast.  It takes effort, but we really need to carve out dedicated time for Him.  Once we start intentionally making time for prayer and making time for Christ in our lives, then there is no possible way that we will stop being able to share our testimonies.  No possible way that we will stop being able to share all that we have seen and heard![10]  When we pray we will begin to see the hearts of families and of nations turned to Christ.  Until we pray, though, we can utter with our lips that we want to see revival, but it won’t take place.  It won’t take place because God sees our hearts and He knows that we are all talk and no action.  That we don’t want it enough to spend even one hour with Him in order to help join Him in His reconciling mission of the church on this earth!

HOW IHOP CHANGED MY PRAYER LIFE: A large part of my IHOP experience was simply being able to spend unhindered time with Christ alone where He came and ministered to my soul.  He delivered me out of my brokenness and set my feet on high places so that I could worship Him.[11]  During this time with Christ alone He continued to repeat over and over to my soul, “come with Me to the quiet place and allow Me to minister to you.”  I believe that this is the same message that Christ echoes to each person – young and old, across all different nationalities and ethnicities, across all socioeconomic levels.  It is a message of what true greatness really is. It is a reminder that all ministries need to be consumed with an attitude of prayer and completely covered with adoration to Christ!

We are often reminded in the Bible that worshiping and prayer never stops.  In Revelation we read that, “day and night they did not cease worshiping the Lamb.”  They kept saying over and over, “blessing, and honour, glory, and power be unto the Ancient of Days!”[12]  The Apostle Paul reminds us to be “steadfast in prayer and abundant in love.”[13]  Note here how prayer comes before love.  That’s because it’s impossible for us to love without first experiencing the ultimate and true love of Christ!  There are many non-Christian married couples who are deeply committed to one another, there are many non-Christian parents who truly do love their children, but they only love the best they know how to.  They don’t know true love because they have never experienced what that feels like.  I don’t doubt the fact that they are compassionate to their children and spouses, but the Bible tells us plainly that WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US![14]  If you want to know true love, if you want your love for your significant other, spouse, or child to grow, you need Christ to minister to you!  You need to come with Him to the quiet place so that He can love you and fill you with a love so great that you never knew it was possible to love someone to that extent before!

MY PRAYER LIFE WAS SHIFTED AT IHOP

In the first sermon that I heard Mike Bickle preach he told us, “Worship is an agreement of who Christ is.  Intercession is an agreement of what Christ said He would do.”  In order to have a vibrant prayer life – one that makes God take notice and one which will draw us into deeper Spiritual maturity with Christ, we need both of these elements.  They are completely inseparable.

At IHOP we listened and sang music, but it was NOT a concert.  I’ve been to many concerts before.  I have many favourite secular as well as Christian artists.  Oftentimes these concerts (primarily secular) are little more than mosh pits with the occasional overpriced beer or whisky.  Yet at IHOP as we sang, we were lead into deeper worship and communion with Christ.  Sometimes I sang, other times I sat there silently, there were a few times that I wept.  Still other times I prayed and interceded so hard and felt assurance from Christ that He was going to bring healing to the people I was praying for.  He confirmed many things to me during my time with Him.   I promise you that if you spend that time with Christ, He will do the same for you!  If you make an effort for Him, He will make time for you!  He’s never too busy to hear the requests of His children!

RECEIVING PERSONAL ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAY THROUGH MY TEAM

When I went to IHOP I traveled with a group of just under 50 young adults (ages 18-30).  I got into a 12 passenger van with them and we drove all the way down to Kansas City, Missouri (which is a little over 15 hours from where I live).  I didn’t know anyone before I left.  I actually had a lot of anxiety.  I am an extrovert and do really enjoy getting to meet other young adults, especially if they are Christian and I perceive that we might be able to have much in common and might be able to network.  But when I left my hometown I had been through a very difficult past four months and was feeling pretty broken and the idea of having people I never even met before minister to me sounded pretty daunting.

I’m glad I didn’t let that hold me back!  These young adults might have been primarily younger than me, but they had a certain spiritual maturity that really inspired me.  This maturity led them to give up a shopping trip in St. Louis just so that we could spend additional hours in prayer at IHOP and continue to intercede and see the Spirit move and work!  To be honest, I don’t know many other 18 year olds who would have taken our leader up on that offer!

Really, it’s crazy how I spent all day every day for 6 days, literally over 10 hours in worship and then came back to the hotel and continued praying and discerning the Lord’s voice.  Even prophesying.  Up until last week when I went to IHOP, this was the kind of stuff I had only heard about in books or from missionaries.  I thought the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was confined to Africa and Asia.  I never realized He was so present here in affluent and busy North America!  I’ve never experienced worshiping this long before.  When I was a student at Tyndale there were some intense times when I was caught up in the Spirit and worshiped for 3 hours…once even almost all night.  But never all day AND all night!  I’ve adopted this posture of prayer.  At IHOP there were days when it was 1:30am and I just couldn’t stop praising Him.  Some days I would get 5 or 6 hours of sleep because I was so caught up in the Spirit and in worship, and I would be fully recharged the next day, and usually I’m the type of person who needs 8 hours or I’m sunk. 

I used to marvel that Africans went to church for hours, now I know it IS possible and it’s what I want.  I feel like I could do this all day every day and never get bored of it.  This must be just a glimpse of what heaven will be like when all nations praise God with the angels day and night before the Throne unceasingly!

CONCLUSION:Sometimes people think that I’ve gone IHOP crazy.  That I’m all about edifying IHOP, but that’s not the case at all!  IHOP was just one instrument that God used to encourage and strengthen me in my walk with Him.  He could have used any other means and I would have been equally as grateful, but God spoke to me and got a hold of my heart through this conference.  Any thanksgiving I have goes straight to God.  I give IHOP props for being faithful to the calling God has laid on their heart and how they have ministered to thousands and pray that God will bless them richly both in heaven and on earth for it.  But in the end of the day – it’s God I worship, NOT IHOP.

I want to encourage you to read my next several blogs about how the Spirit moved during my time at IHOPKC and all that He taught me while I was there.  My next blog will be written on the topic of intercession primarily on how God called me and equipped me to pray during the Night Watch – one of the most intense and Spiritually demanding assignments He has ever given me, but a ministry for which I am glad to be a part.  I hope you will join me in reading that blog and that the Lord may also call some of my faithful readers to join me in this vision of proclaiming the Kingdom of Christ until He comes again.[15]


[4] From a sermon Mike Bickle preached at IHOPKC’s ONETHING 2013 Conference

[7] My Life Flows On (Text and Music By: Robert Lowry, 1869)

[8] Better Than A Hallelujah (By: Amy Grant) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm5kx3xqmg0

Reflections of a Mennocostal – My IHOPKC Experience (An Introduction to A Blogging Series)

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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.[1]  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.[2]

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.[3]  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.[4]  I want to see women receive their dead back to life![5]

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.[6]

 

C)    Delivering a Prophetic Vision

~ Prophesy is perhaps the one gift that requires the most discernment for there are many false prophets.[7]

~ 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.[8]
~ 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.[9]  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![10]  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.[11]  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.”[12]  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.