Mike Bickle and IHOP-KC prove prayer is far from a boring chore
Two years ago I spent a week in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC), led by Mike Bickle. I’ve known Mike for more than 20 years; I’ve watched his vision for 24/7 prayer unfold. I’ve seen the consistency of his life. I’ve watched how his emphasis on prayer, his understanding of the Tabernacle of David and a type of prayer he calls “Harp and Bowl” has changed the lives of thousands—including mine.
God did some deep things in my life that week in Kansas City, Mo., as I spent hours in God’s presence and studying the Word. He also used Mike to surprise me with a lesson on prayer. One afternoon Mike invited me to sit in on a teaching for his leaders. He talked about the importance of systematic prayer using a written prayer list. With a written list, he said, you’ll pray 10 times more than you will without it. Then he handed out a sheet using an acronym for FELLOWSHIP as a model for intimate prayer. (Go to ministrytodaymag.com/fellowshipprayerlist to download a free copy.)
That week I began using a written prayer list and following Mike’s method of intimate prayer. I also began journaling and spending at least an hour in prayer most days. It’s a discipline I continue today.
Charismatics have long placed a strong emphasis on prayer. Intense prayer—often accompanied by intercession or worship and displays of the gifts of the Spirit—is valued in our circles. Our weekly service schedules usually include “prayer meetings” and sometimes even all-night prayer vigils.
But prayer isn’t always easy. Intense times of prayer gradually become replaced by a boring routine. And after a while, prayer is more talked about than done.
Mike Bickle has changed that. For him prayer is a lifestyle—it’s exciting and it’s 24/7. He doesn’t just talk about it; he actually prays and he’s motivated thousands to pray with him!
When Mike resigned from his successful Kansas City megachurch more than 12 years ago to focus on 24/7 prayer, I wasn’t sure if he’d find enough people to keep it going. After all, who would lead prayer all night or on holidays? Yet people have come by the hundreds and now thousands—most of them young people—and the depth and intensity of their prayer lives and walk with God is impressive.
Mike has since expanded IHOP-KC’s vision to include acts of justice and service alongside prayer. He’s training 1,000 students and interns at IHOPU. He’s raising up worship leaders such as Misty Edwards (who writes in this issue) who are influencing worship around the world. Other churches are following Mike’s lead to begin their own “houses of prayer” or incorporating his principles into their own prayer lives. A secular way to describe this is that a trend is developing in the church.
I lead a company, not a church, yet we have a voluntary time of worship modeled after IHOP-KC every Monday to focus on intimacy with God. On Wednesday we have an intercessory prayer meeting. Not everyone attends, but I believe it’s raised the spiritual temperature of our organization. I hope you’ll be motivated to deepen your own prayer life, as I have, and to lead the way with those you serve.
Your people long to know God. They want intimacy and desire deep worship. Yet often they don’t know how to pray. I believe Mike Bickle has been raised up to show one way that has worked for him. It’s not the only way, as he’s quick to acknowledge. Yet he’s learned things most pastors need to learn—how people respond to prayer when leaders add two important ingredients: intimacy and music.
It’s an honor to have Mike as guest editor of this issue. These articles have only scratched the surface, but hopefully they’ll open your eyes to ways you can change the prayer culture of your church. May God respond to your heart’s cry as you desire more of Him for yourself and for your church.
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