We’ve written about the International House of Prayer a few times before, noting that it is the center of what amounts to a 24/7 Call-type rally where prayer and music and worship are underway, literally, at all times.
We knew that IHOP was founded and is overseen by Mike Bickle, and that Lou Engle has close ties to both Bickle and the institution he started, but we didn’t realize until reading this profile in Charisma was just how large the organization had become and that it was expanding at an astonishing pace:
As regimented as that structure may sound to those who thrive on spontaneous worship and prayer, it’s integral to what happens in the prayer room—which, in turn, is the heart of everything IHOP is and does. The ministry includes 1,000 full-time staff and 1,000 full-time students at the university, IHOPU, yet each person’s role, function and purpose at IHOP begins entirely in the prayer room, where adoring Jesus is blended with rending the heavens on behalf of everything from abortion to Israel to revival on college campuses.
Such a prayer-saturated climate undoubtedly factored into the student “awakening” that erupted out of a 9 a.m. Bible class last November and continued first as nightly, then weekend meetings through early October. The move of the Holy Spirit drew thousands, many of whom reported physical and emotional healings. Broadcast globally on God TV, the awakening not only introduced IHOPU to a new audience, but also played a part in a surge of incoming students that includes those from abroad. This fall the university began accepting overseas applications for the first time, and leaders say they have more than 5,000 international students waiting to enroll.
The article also notes that one of Bickle’s main areas of concern is the End Times and that, to some extent, the purpose of IHOP’s prayer and activism is to prepare the world for that event:
One of those messages has actually become Bickle’s calling card in recent years and furthered the controversy that, for reasons beyond his control, surrounds him. Mention Mike Bickle’s name to most charismatic believers and, aside from prayer or passion for Jesus, they’ll automatically think of the end times. Indeed, Bickle has developed a unique twofold emphasis of the praying church’s call to deeply love Jesus as “friends of the bridegroom” and its role in the end times as forerunners.
As was the case with the Song of Solomon, the latter wasn’t a message he’d planned to give. Bickle calls his end-times thrust a “sovereign accident” that began with a challenge from his staff to do a 10-week series on the book of Revelation. That series turned into a seven-year sermon during which he would preach on Saturday nights and meet with a group of 20 leaders the following day to poke holes in his teaching.
“It ended up becoming a laboratory for understanding,” he says, adding that often the greatest course-changers would come from young students who were out to “prove the old man wrong.” Through this process, Bickle has landed upon teaching historic premillennialism with the added dimension of a victorious church walking in New Testament power, purity and unity.
For all Bickle’s passion to unlock in others the revelation of a loving God, he is equally as zealous to stir up a sense of immediacy and understanding among those who disregard the Bible’s specific, copious directions for the end times, which he personally believes will be seen by a generation already born.
“My generation is profoundly ignorant of what the Bible says about the end times,” he admits. “How can we go decade after decade and continue to be ignorant? Somewhere we’ve got to get intentional about getting somebody understanding it so that in the future they’ll be ready to train the kids who are currently 10 and 20. Who I’m aiming for is my children and their children—and even their children.”
That long-term generational target is also one of the driving forces behind IHOP’s recently expanded vision to combine 24/7 prayers for justice with 24/7 works of justice until Christ’s return. Of the 75 departments that make up IHOP, more than three-fourths are dedicated to action outside the prayer room—everything from orphan care to crisis response to inner-city ministry to training marketplace leaders. This is in addition to a thriving worship label, music school, conference ministry, media institute, Israel initiative, children’s and high school ministries, and an ever-increasing list of other ministries making their mark.