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 Kansas City prophetic movement, sharing the movement's growth of vision from 1983 to today. The series was seat-riveting and I encourage you to listen to it online. Today, on my third prompting from the Lord, I need to comment on this series from a wilderness prophetic perspective, believing it has great significance for all wilderness prophetic believers.



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 Kansas City movement, though I became aware of the controversy surrounding it.



          - 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.)



- The Forerunner Message: A First Hope at Prophetic Union?


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 Kansas City between 1998 and 2000, and attended the original dedication for the House of Prayer in May, 1999. The question was, could this be for real? Would the truth of the outcast desert prophetic wanderers finally find a home in a mainstream corporate movement? Could Isaiah 62:5 become a reality here in Kansas City?



- "Breaking Up is Hard to Do"


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 Kansas City.


Since then until now, I paid no more attention to what was coming out of Kansas City. The addition of culture prophetic intercessory voices such as Lou Engle's only confirmed my need to stay away.



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 Kansas City. And that is why I am writing. As a prophetic observer of streams and events, it's my job to inform you of anything I am given to see in the big picture. And in what I've heard in this latest series from Mike Bickle, I perceive a maturing significant enough to warrant your attention.


          - 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 of the Kansas City movement. This occurs in sessions 1-3 and 7-8. As I said, these stories capture your attention and are worth the listen. (2019 Ed. note - these files are no longer available.)


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 essential spiritual vision of 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 Kansas City relative to truth, I recommend starting with these sessions. My following commentary is based off them.


[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 Kansas City and what I encourage you to listen for in this series.


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. Kansas City is in no way ready to receive or become a voice for the judgmental nature of the roaring Lion of Judah on this nation or the unfaithful church. "Marriage" between the pastoral and wilderness prophetic visions of truth is still far off.


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?



1. Acknowledgment of Across-the-Board Humility


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 Toronto movement in episode 4 is poignant in this regard. 


[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.



2. Acknowledgment of the Lord's Selective Self-Revelation


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 to the Lakeland affair. I especially encourage you to read my thesis on this in Part 7 of the newly posted series on Lakeland. Once wilderness and mainstream prophetic leaders can both recognize the Lord's selective way of revealing Himself beyond our committed piece of His nature, we will get past the smoke of charges and counter charges over "false revival" and come to an integrated perception God can fully work through.



3. Fresh Approach to "Bridegroom, King and Judge"


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.]



4. Hunger for Conviction of Sin, Righteousness and Judgment


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!



5. Separation from the "American Dream"


One of the most hopeful signs of maturity in Kansas City is Mike Bickle's forefront denunciation of the "American Dream." This is a core wilderness theme totally contrary to Mike's own contemporaries whose ministries are based on fulfilling the American Dream. I could only applaud Mike for his position on this--and this in spite of the remaining culture prophetic intercessory element represented by Lou Engle there. But who knows? Perhaps Engle too is starting to see light on this.  In view of the massive failures of the intercessory community in America to prop up "the dream," many of them may be beginning to reconsider the folly of their allegiances to America. May Lou Engle be one of them. Let's wait and see.


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 Kansas City in hopes of "at last" being received for the harder cross-cutting prophetic truth we share. It is however to help you in your own growing maturity toward recognizing the prospects God is revealing on the horizon for an eventual Isaiah 62:5 marriage between a purified, adult mainstream and purified, adult wilderness prophetic movement.


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 Kansas City today will be interested or inclined to put it on their radar for future awareness, especially those of you overseas. But for those who are interested, be aware of an invitation to a body-wide leadership summit Mike Bickle has called in Kansas City from Jan. 2-4, 2010 with a preceding conference for young adults Dec. 28-31.


These conferences may give some further opportunity to learn first hand how ready Kansas City may be to seriously consider the need to embrace wilderness-class prophetic truth in view of the crisis issues they plan to discuss, including the issue of (believe it or not) the "false church."  A quote from their invitation is as follows:


This year, at onething'09, our theme is: "What is the Spirit Saying to the Church?" As those who love Jesus, we are all desperate to hear what He is saying, and then to obey it. At this four-day conference Lou Engle, Misty Edwards, Allen Hood, Dwayne Roberts, Mark Anderson, myself, and others will be teaching on what we believe the Spirit is saying.

There is an answer to the confusion and deception that is coming from some of those associated with the Emerging Church. We believe the Spirit is raising up what we refer to as the "Praying Church"--a church that loves the truth and has unwavering allegiance to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is raising up such congregations that will do outreach and works of justice that flow from a foundation of prayer and deep relationship with Jesus. This "Praying Church" movement is resisting the false church, which is emerging in our nation today, especially among young adults





Many blessings to all, as we together keep our ears open to what the Spirit is saying to the church.


Chris Anderson
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island

First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship




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