IHOP: The Call, 24/7

Lou Engle of The Call tends to only generate press when he hosts one of his massive prayer rallies, and even then, only the events that are timed to coincide with political events or elections ever receive any coverage, like the one he held last year in San Diego that was focused largely on the need to pass Proposition 8. 

As recent developments have made clear, Engle has been making a leap from mainly religious events into more overtly political activism, joining hands with the likes of Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, and James Dobson and appearing at rallies where he introduced and prayed over Newt Gingrich and unveiled his own political organization called "Call 2 Action."

In addition to his work with The Call, Engle is also a "a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City with Mike Bickle," an organization which is the focus of this excellent profile by Donald Bradley of The Kansas City Star:

The article explains that IHOP's mission is to engage in constant prayer in effort to bring about and prepare the world for the return of Christ :

The digital signal from the International House of Prayer in south Kansas City, Mo., makes its way via Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world.

This ... never ... stops.

Two in the morning, 8 at night, dusk and dawn. Holidays and ice storms. Time doesn't matter because these young worshippers are more concerned with the "End Times." The signs are here. The Messiah is near.

So they've come here for the last 10 years, by the hundreds - thousands - for what perhaps is Kansas City's biggest religious phenomenon in a century.

They've come to an old renovated strip mall on Red Bridge Road.

To answer the call of a leader named Mike Bickle, who says a purpose of their worship is to hasten the Second Coming.

...

Bickle says he's heard God's voice. And that he's been to heaven. Twice.

Inside the walls of his growing IHOP nation, the 53-year-old is revered as a great leader and something of a prophet.

Outside, Bickle and other IHOP officials acknowledge, they're seen by some as a cult.

Many of Bickle's messages can be read or heard on the IHOP Web site. In a recent post about a prophetic dream about war between Satan and Michael the archangel, Bickle wrote that he saw "large snakes, over 100 feet long and 50 feet thick, each having a huge head that looked like a dragon, and many of them were coming from the sky down to the earth."

His brand of Christianity relies heavily on the Book of Revelation and a sense of urgency that the Rapture is near.

When Jesus returns to make war against his enemies and marches into Jerusalem, Bickle preaches, "untold millions will die in the wake of his righteous, loving judgments."

Some of what is preached at IHOP is heard in other fundamentalist denominations. Israel is embraced for its role on the path to the End Times. Fasting is encouraged.

Other aspects seem well out of the mainstream.

IHOP has a "Children's Equipping Center," which, according to the Web site, seeks to mold a million children to lead the next generation, by empowering them "with DNA components that produce in them a holy passion."

Throw in the proportionally heavy infusion of young believers, things such as the "Fire in the Night" internship that meets from midnight to 6 a.m. and a "prenatal soaking room" for expectant mothers and the word "cult" occasionally can be heard in the neighborhood.

One owner of a nearby business, who did not want to be identified, said many people in the neighborhood worry that IHOP is a cult.

The entire piece is worth reading, just as this video explaining IHOP's mission is worth watching: