A Wilderness Perspective on the Ten-Year Anniversary of the International House of Prayer
November 21, 2009
Two months ago, Mike Bickle and the
ministry of the International House of Prayer in
Kansas City ("IHOP-KC") marked ten years of "24/7"
non-stop worship and intercession. To recognize this
milestone, IHOP conducted a series of teachings in
which Mike and others outlined the core history of the
First, Some Personal History
Before commenting directly on the IHOP
teachings, I must offer some history of my own. During
the 1980's, when the "KC" movement was first
developing, I was a "diehard wilderness" seeker of
prophetic truth. Searching more in the prophetic
"backwoods," I was relatively oblivious to the new
- The Mystery of Prophetic "Gender"
In 1990, the Lord suddenly started to "shake" my "wilderness foundations" (Ps. 29:8). He began giving me a radically new perspective of His complete prophetic nature as expressed through the dual streams (or should I say the "dueling" streams) of western propheticism--the larger corporate "mainstream" prophetic (as seen in the emerging Kansas City, Morningstar and Christian International camps) and the more isolated stream of no-name "harlot rejects" with which I identified, articulated by notably lonely voices such as David Wilkerson, Leonard Ravenhill and Keith Green.
This legitimate difference in the Lord's "dual prophetic nature" as expressed through these dueling streams is something I have never yet outlined for my internet readers, but is vital to this commentary. Forgive me for dropping this so suddenly as an undeveloped "bombshell." But in a word, what I was given to see is that the two rival prophetic streams reveal spiritually what God showed of Himself through Creation when He made "man" through dual genders.
One prophetic stream primarily expresses the traits of God identified through "femininity" in creation, the other through those identified by "masculinity." The larger corporate "mainstreams" are more "mothering" in prophetic approach, while the scattered hidden individualistic wilderness streams are more of a "he-man's" movement championing the rigorous "masculine" discipleship qualities of "sonship." (When you study it in depth, the detail in these spiritual "gender traits" as mirrored in creation is astounding.)
My last point for now is that as my understanding of this grew, the Lord made clear that there would one day be a prophetic "marriage" between these streams, consisting of matured remnants from both--in fulfillment of Isa. 62:5 ("For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you")--and that from this spiritual union would be "born" the final overcoming generation of completed prophetic saints (See Rev. 12:5. Again I apologize, but I hope you might at least get a glimpse into this. It will resolve a lot for you about the "prophetic movements" and what God is doing underneath all the controversy. Lord willing I will post a series on it later.)
During the 1990's, as I matured in this revelation of "prophetic gender" and its conflicts, I was more exposed (forcibly so) to the corporate mainstream prophetic movements, becoming a "fish out of water." Though I did not hold them in great respect, I had come to accept their fundamental validity (something most wilderness prophetics do not accept, and which is one of the distinctive perspectives of First Love Ministry).
In 1993 I heard Mike Bickle for the first time at a Morningstar Conference--and, being a wilderness maverick at heart, cannot say I was impressed. However, in 1998, I again heard him, and something had definitely changed in his vision and presentation. Two things marked his message which caused me to perk up. First was that, as a corporate prophetic movement leader, Mike was putting the concept of "first love" at the head of his agenda. No one else was doing this. And since it was my agenda as well, it appealed to me strongly.
Secondly, similar to my understanding of prophetic gender, Mike was acknowledging a multi-faceted prophetic nature of the Lord through what he called the "Bridegroom, King and Judge Paradigm." For the first time I heard a mainstream leader acknowledging the validity of the judgmental nature of the Lord in his perception of the prophetic. Mike was using this three-fold motif to describe a coming "Forerunner Movement" in preparation against the judgments to fall. At that time he had a stirring message worthy of John the Baptist.
This was all I needed to hear. In view
of what the Lord had shown me about the marriage of
prophetic genders, I began to "date" this movement. I
made several trips to
As I continued following the IHOP ministry, I found myself increasingly frustrated with the biased "effeminate" spirit that was advanced there. From its start, the promising motif of "Bridegroom, King and Judge" became so weighted toward the "Bridegroom" perception of the Lord that all concept of the righteous "Judge" was lost! IHOP quickly developed instead into what I called the "Bridal Movement" (or "Passionism")--featuring an utterly faulty romantically-founded portrayal of relationship to the Lord. It turned out there was no room for a real prophetic "man" here after all.
After extended correspondence with a
high level IHOP leader and a last trip to see his
"bridal" ministry in action, I became sadly persuaded
of the need to "break off" any further relationship
with this "girlish" movement. I began writing an
internet article called "Breaking
Up Is Hard to Do," but never finished it.
Instead I posted the 2001 article Relating
Sonship and Brideship: An Exhortation to the
Bridal Movement (some of you may still
remember it). It was a direct response to my encounter
with the "swooning adolescent girl" of
Since then until now, I paid no more
attention to what was coming out of
Is the "Infatuated Teen" Becoming a "Lady?"
In September however, after all this
time, and surprisingly led to watch this IHOP series,
my "masculine wilderness" spirit once again heard
something new and different out of
- The IHOP Series
Before continuing, here's what you
should know about the 9 part IHOP series. Its main
thrust is to retell the supernatural prophetic history
To be sure, the history omits the uglier moments and does not tell of all the things that needed correction. But it does reveal the continuity of the movement's genuine seed vision from the Lord and His supernatural guidance and protection of it. This testimony is extremely compelling, and reveals the movement's validity, regardless of the errors it suffered through immaturity.
However, these are not the episodes I
suggest to listen to first. Episodes 4-6 present the
the IHOP movement now. This is where the meat is for
any outside observer looking in who wants to
understand IHOP's perception of the prophetic, of
revival, etc. and to gauge whether it has any
relevance to truth.
For wilderness students wanting to evaluate what God
is doing in
[Session 9 shares IHOP's new vision for social justice works. This is interesting in light of Robert Holmes' (Storm Harvest) recent call for the church to start demonstrating a heart for social justice.]
Evaluating Mick Bickle's 2009 Perspective
Here then, in light of the prophetic
gender paradigm, is my perspective of
First let's be clear: a prophetic
"woman" will always retain her essence as a "woman."
By that I mean, a large corporate prophetic movement
will keep an essentially pastoral
heart in its approach to the prophetic.
Mike Bickle is clear to a fault about his reticence to speak correctively of any other movement or ministry under any circumstance. He often trips over himself to qualify anything he says that could be construed critically of others. Obviously, that is going to have to change if IHOP is to be part of an overcoming end time movement that displays the full image of the Lord.
There is nevertheless a circumspect tone to Mike's messages that demonstrates a maturing in the IHOP vision and its preparation to eventually find place for expressing the essential foundational separational holy truth of the wilderness prophetic spirit. What are those evidences?
Mike exhorts that God is working a
body-wide humility into the church over the offenses
He creates among different streams regarding His
character, and that he (Mike) has had and will
have to overcome such offenses in the future.
His description of the body-wide offense over the
[Note: I have made a similar exhortation to the wilderness prophetic empire. Wilderness people are going to have to realize that God's heart is not entirely defined by fire and brimstone on the "harlot church" and that He uses the impurity of vessels in His corporate moves to work a humbling offense in us all.]
What Mike's exhortation reveals is that he has what it takes to eventually embrace and voice the judgmentally "masculine" prophetic nature of the Lord against disobedience, even if he can't bring himself now to integrate it into his expression of God's heart except theoretically. And when wilderness prophetics mature to the same realization about embracing the mothering prophetic nature, we will be able to see the Isaiah 62:5 union occur.
In his discussion of Toronto, Mike Bickle expresses recognition for the Lord's sovereign selectivity in how He chooses to reveal Himself through what we call a "revival" or an "outpouring," acknowledging the Lord does not have to reveal Himself fully in any given event and that His limited Self-revelation through one event does not prove or disprove the validity of how He can reveal Himself in another.
This is a rare insight few leaders in either the wilderness or mainstream prophetic seem able to steward. In making this observation, Mike has left open the door for the judgmental aspect of the Lord to appear in revival.
Likewise, I have similarly exhorted
wilderness prophetics to acknowledge the Lord's
sovereign selectivity this way--most lately in regard
In this latest IHOP teaching, Mike has revived his Bridegroom, King and Judge paradigm to again restore the concept of God as Judge to the mix, and give it fair equal acknowledgment. This is similar to how it originally was before the whole IHOP thing went "Bridegroom-centric." This doesn't mean he is able to personally embrace the expression of the Lord's Judgeship through his ministry. Quite not! But his re-acknowledgement of its equal footing with the Bridegroom and King natures gives fresh hope to prophetic adherents dedicated to wilderness truth and hopeful of eventual union with a corporate prophetic movement.
[Note: It is important for me here to cite where I as a foundationally "masculine" prophetic teacher perceive the Bridegroom, King and Judge motif to be in error. While the order of "Bridegroom > King > Judge" rightly describes the order of our progression for ministry toward the world, it does not rightly describe the order of the world's coming to know the Lord as the IHOP movement presents it.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" of the Lord. A sinner must first know the Lord as Judge of his sins through repentance and then King of his life through surrender to His Lordship before he can ever know the Lord's intimacy as Bridegroom. Then afterward, once we as believers know His intimacy (and not until we do) can we go out to righteously minister His authority and His justice toward the world. That is the correct application of the Bridegroom, King and Judge order.
Furthermore, even once we do reach intimacy with the Lord as believers, intimacy defined by spiritual emotion can never be our foundation of relationship with the Lord. Our intimacy must be based on obedient commitment to be valid--something IHOP does little to clarify. This is a critical clarification and change I will watch for as I continue to evaluate IHOP's maturing toward embracing wilderness-class truth.]
In his discussion of revival, Mike Bickle clearly says he desires revival that is characterized by repentance in which men fall under the conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment to come to Christ. He further acknowledges that no such revival has occurred in these times, and that he longs for that kind of inner power as it was demonstrated under Edwards, Brainerd, Finney, et al.
This should give wilderness prophets with a burden for repentance great hope for eventual common ground with IHOP. Keep your ears up. Mike is proving that he is not just about "signs and wonders." Of course, in order for his desire to be realized, he will have to come to the same grasp of God Jonathan Edwards had in his preaching on "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Obviously there's some work to be done there yet!
One of the most hopeful signs of
Overall, Mike Bickle's non-stop fasted lifestyle emphasis shows a turning away from the allurements and entrapments of this world to seek the things of the Lord, however deficient that pursuit may otherwise appear in regards to prophetic truth. He presents himself more strongly than ever as a selfless servant with no desire for name recognition or ownership of the Lord's work--despite his famed role at the center of this movement and the high level of material prosperity it currently enjoys under God's favor.
So Take Note
This article is only meant as a "heads
up" regarding stirrings in one of our significant
American mainstream prophetic movements. It is not to
encourage anyone to start flocking to
Neither prophetic movement has a corner on the complete nature of the Lord's prophetic face. And the truth is that as infested with error as is the mainstream prophetic, so is the wilderness prophetic. The further truth is that few from either stream will make it to the Isaiah 62:5 wedding. For those who do, the union will not come easily. There will be much adjusting to come. Yet the growing desperation of the world situation will be instrumental in bringing it about. And so the overcomers will be born.
Not everyone reading my assessment of
These conferences may give some
further opportunity to learn first hand how ready
If you are inclined to check this out, you may click here for more information.
Many blessings to all, as we together keep our ears open to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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