An expose' of IHOP and the Prayer Room movement.
INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PRAYER (so called) and the "Prayer Room" movement is very attractive to young people especially. We seek to expose it and why it is a danger.
Prayer & Prophecy in general
The danger of this mystical and gnostic movement is its misguided 24 hour prayer room emphasis, often praying contrary to the revealed truth of God.
Some have been told by church leadership that it is up to them to “usher in” the Second Coming of Jesus (or some emphasis to that effect).... which becomes a tremendous responsibility and seeming privilege. Yet this, of necessity, includes a denial of the nature of the end of this age...as revealed in scripture.
As a movement, it ignores the mingled characteristics of the present age in Christendom (false & true together) per Matthew 13, and the implications of God's pending judgment on apostate Christendom, Israel, and the Nations. This is in contrast to scriptural thinking, where the church is first removed, and then Christ's enemies are to be put beneath His feet, as the first step of the establishment of His kingdom and Israel's earthly blessings.
Prayer Room adherents are generally led towards, or forced to, deny the rapture (after all, if you are bringing in the kingdom in some manner-it doesn't fit to realize that this age ends in judgment, which is what happens after the rapture). Some IHOP adherents see the prayerful church as "bringing on the tribulation". They are seeking a church triumphant of sorts in the midst of trouble - His return - seemingly dependent upon them as an end time army reclaiming something for God. It may be said that such a mindset prepares the way for antichrist more than for Christ. They may feel they are on the cutting edge of what God is doing, yet it leaves them open for deception.
There are at times striking similarities with other groups such as 7th Day Adventists and even Jehovah Witnesses, who deny the rapture and see themselves as the faithful and surviving remnant who are enabled by faithfulness to God, to survive unto the end of a coming judgment period & tribulation. Their prayerfulness and faithfulness are preliminary means of preparation for such a time.
There are some who emphasize an end time "church" that defeats God's enemies, and Jesus stays in heaven until that takes place. And so it goes...
The desire to "pray in" and "be responsible for" ushering in the 2nd coming of Christ, in these varied IHOP contexts, is unscriptural, and thus its danger as a movement is tied to its very core value (ie...prayer...yet it is praying against the revealed truth of how this age plays out prophetically- leaving their adherents devoting a LOT of time to praying...praying against what is revealed in scripture). By praying for the 2nd coming of Christ, - apart from the context of apostasy, rapture, and tribulation, - it deceives the IHOP follower... and like all bypaths of deception, at best is a waste of time.
Are IHOP followers devoted? Yes, absolutely.
Will they be disappointed? Assuredly.
Are there some true Christians within the IHOP movement? Likely
The concern is that Prayer Room Groups can be very attractive to young people, providing an avenue for sincere devotion and seeming "reality". The "24 hour prayer" rooms seem to exhibit that which many feel is missing in their quest for spirituality. The building up of an "end time army" and an "end time" church is enticing. At times it goes so far as to state that Jesus cannot return until something drastic changes in the church.
It is a shortcut rather than a Spirit-led maturity they are experiencing & seeking. And as a warning, "ex-IHOP" people have identified the movement as cultic (their words) rather than biblical spirituality.
Let us now look at some specifics
Worship - Harp and Bowl
The practice that IHOP adherents call worship is a kind of mind control, hypnosis, via crowd manipulation. Their practices also foster an "us against them" mentality, common among fringe groups. Music is one of the key areas that unifies IHOP people, but it does so outside the biblical view of worship, being characterized by mind control, crowd control, and "performance". The participation of a body of believers is relegated to the whims of the music leaders, and the laity become spectators singing emotionally charged snippets, often in dark rooms with concert style lighting. Turn on the lights, and one wonder what might happen!? The testimony of one (borrowed from the stopihopcult link below) says it best:
“I was on the worship team at IHOP-KC for over a year. Everyone on the worship teams are trained in the Harp and Bowl method. They would tell us to look over the room and if people seemed disconnected with the music to pick a phrase, something short and catchy and slow. Then start repeating it over and over until you get the room under CONTROL. I have seen it work over and over. The room will settle down and everyone will mindlessly repeat the music phrase over and over. It shows how powerful the music can be when used in ways to gain control. I will not sing repetitive short verses anymore because of what I have seen and experienced at IHOP.”
Another in that same article wrote: “I was trained in Harp & Bowl and sang on a few worship teams. I was explaining that experience to someone recently and just hearing myself explain the method of how they containerized and systematically controlled worship it reminded me of how it felt then. The control that comes over people in that chanting environment is truly powerful…that is why it hooks people and they become blind to the fact it is manipulating their emotions. I hope and pray others in IHOP wake up and see these things in time to get out.”
This manipulation by music is very common to the charismatic movement in general, but Prayer Room groups especially. But it leads to non-discernment, and acceptance of error. It also becomes a kind of addiction, as the emotional highs of "praise and worship" become a "need" that must be re-attained.
It may be surprising to suggest this as the root problem for the young allured by this movement.... but the fundamental error of this system may be thinking with the heart and not the head. Ignoring the study of scripture, and basing belief on what we wish to be true, rather than what has been revealed and taught in scripture.
What may lure a young person this direction?
The social aspect / A community / Same aged friend circles
A desire to "see" manifestations of what one assumes is a spiritual life.
Devotion... to prayer.
"Worshipful" prayer movement
Negative things like doctrine and differences aren't emphasized or discerned.
Bad teaching at home or in the church. Or a disregard of good teaching with quick acceptance of that which is independent of what they "grew up with".
A desire to break from the ties of family and to experience and live my own "individuality." "This is a new stage of my life"
Having hurts and finding a sympathetic ear. Having a low spiritual state and finding something outwardly attractive as manifested in "praise and worship."
For the musically inclined the pride of performancism.
A kind of spirituality that can be expressed apart from the biblical concepts that involve longsuffering, trials, and difficulties. In contrast to the challenges of college life and its pressures give an avenue and community to share positivity.
Intriguing terminology, such as passion, prophesying, visitations, habitations, visions in the Spirit, spontaneous worship, flowing/glowing in the Spirit, raising up a generation, developing the song in the heart, restoring the tabernacle of David, shaking things, cities of refuge, being an alive and awake generation.
It promotes the young and separates them from the aged & mature.
Sound study of theology is replaced by a moving target, easier and youthful and rebellious.
The martyr complex is attractive.
A desire to expand God's Kingdom (when in reality it is the IHOP kingdom)
In short it is a communion... of sorts. Communion itself is a biblical concept, but the prayer room is not a communion of Christ, in our view.
There is that which is call "the prophetic." This fills the frequent desire of many to see manifestations and get direct guidance from heaven. It is a spiritual elixir, a high of sorts - like an addict experiences and must return for again and again. Testimonies are constantly sought and given with great speed and little discernment, and even less proofs of validity. This fills the adherents with expectation for a "word" from the Lord and self propagates as a badge of spirituality. Healing testimonies, prophetic testimonies are the norm. Never mind if they are invalid, they just keep coming at a fast rate.
A major blunder the movement has had to defend is excessive false "prophecies" and how to deal with them. One major teacher (M.Bickle) counters in response, that God "offends the mind to reveal the heart" and that He intentionally offends people. Such thinking is prefaced by reference to verses like the Corinthian "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise". This is then used as a safe platform for all sorts of weird and even unbiblical things as being God's modus operandi. Those who seek to discern or expose it are labeled judgmental, less spiritual, a proud Pharisee, or just not having experienced the Spirit.
Of greatest concern is that many would have us believe that anointed prophets of God are capable of making erroneous prophetic pronouncements. These men (and women) discard the way the Bible defines a false prophet. There is de-facto, no way to even define a false prophet because they can say whatever they want with no fear of losing credibility among their disciples other than a general embarrassment - perhaps. They are conditioned to expect, tolerate and accept prophetic messages.
When the false manifests, it is not, they say, that the Spirit gave a false prophecy, rather, that the “prophet” misunderstood, or misapplied it. Such men forget that they might have been stoned for such things in the Old Testament. They counter that we aren't in Old Testament times. True, but a false prophet is a false prophet in any era and it is time to end the free pass.
This practice is a kind of "emptying one's self" and repeating a phrase or words repeatedly to focus the mind and enter a new state. It reminds one of new age philosophy of finding the god within -to be honest. One may end up in a kind of hypnotic state via this psychological tool, but what it does is open up the adherent to suggestions from without, a very dangerous thing. At its root it is once again the desire to "experience" God, the transcendent. To the discerning person Zen Buddhism and Hindu practices are much to similar.
The teachers of this practice often suggest that "western" ways of thinking have hindered the church from experiencing the mysticism of God, that past believers have known. The reader should be warned that anytime "western" ways are emphasized as a point of criticism, to look for links to eastern mysticism. It is here in contemplative prayer in abundance.
Ask an IHOP or prayer room adherent their goal, and you might get something about the kingdom from Matthew 5-7 such as "seek ye first the kingdom of God." As stated up above, there is an overriding emphasis on the kingdom, that is seemingly unaware that the "kingship" of Christ is related to the nation Israel. A biblically literate person in contrast is aware that there aren't any references to Christ and the church, as being her 'king.' Lord yes, Bridegroom yes, Savior yes, but you won't find "King" as emphasized with relation to the church. We are aware that hymnody will at times mis-use the word king of course, seeking to be in cadence and rhyme, but the prayer room folk take it further than is wise. The present age and Matthew 13's kingdom parables would warn us that much true and false are in the "kingdom" in the present age. To build the kingdom is their mantra, but it could be they are building up of the tares that make up part of the kingdom in the present mystery form.
There is something about the sermon on the mount that they especially gravitate towards, de-emphasizing the NT epistles. It is there that the Lord speaks through Peter, James, Paul, and John just as much as the red letters of the gospels. It appears they de-emphasize the epistles because doctrine is unfolded there, whereas kingdom sayings of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount can be taken out of context & used to fit their ideas.
The kingdom as it pertains to Israel is attractive to a movement seeking signs and wonders, prophecies, miracles and healings, which were manifestations of the presence of the King. Much of the prayer room movement is kingdom-now thinking, forgetting that the king is absent and rejected, and we are in the mystery form of the kingdom in this age, where good and bad, false and true, are mingled. IHOP is apparently ignorant that the church is spoken of as the bride, not the queen. A subtle but important difference.
Definition: the introduction of an antigenic substance or vaccine into the human body to produce immunity to a specific disease.
In spiritual matters, it is not uncommon for false teachers to inoculate their adherents against correction, and this is a sensitive and difficult area to combat. The "specific disease" to them is what we call reproof, discernment, correction, and rebuke. The antigen of scriptural truth is overcome by experiences, words of knowledge and wisdom, and avoiding those passages and admonitions from the word of God that "don't fit." In summary, they are day by day inoculated against the very things that would deliver them from error. It is often a long and painful process of disappointment and difficulty that frees such from error. Much prayer, patience, and love, is needed, yet with the willingness to be knowledgeable and a willingness to confront in love. There must be a willingness to be called a Pharisee. The key is to not be one while exposing error. The Stop IHOP blog says:
"...they are placing themselves into a victim or martyr position and the person who has questioned their theology is thereby placed into the offensive or attacker position. Please understand, this is a psychological and very purposeful maneuver. Leaders of these organizations teach their followers to expect people to be adverse to their theology, expect people to be offended by how they do things because they know that families will fight for their loved ones. They are taught to play the martyr, indoctrinated with the concept that the world will be against them, thus birthing an Us versus Them mentality. They play the role of martyr and victim very well. Then, when their family member reaches out, out of concern, the leader can say to the follower, “see, I told you they would take offense.” The follower is then drawn deeper into believing the leader must be right about all things since he was right about this.
Thus the young IHOP person will be taught that their beliefs will be opposed by their "less spiritual" family or prior church home. The IHOP mindset tends to a division in homes, families, and churches, as the "martyr" complex comes into view.
In addition, a "spiritual intimacy" is fostered, promoting a supposed individual deeper life piety. There are those that are "connected" and those that are not. Passion is promoted along with mystical revelations. They have arrived or are arriving. Drawing near to God is a huge emphasis, but differs from what is taught in Scripture. IHOP bases this on being part of the enlightened elite class who have achieved a better level. In truth, drawing near is based on what God has done for us in Christ.
Priesthood issues: Some have taken steps towards embracing a supposed role as a priest of the Zadok school. This reference in the Bible is to a future restoration of a portion of Israel's priesthood due to their faithfulness amidst widespread apostasy in Israel. This is common among cultic thinkers to apply things to themselves that in scripture pertains to Israel. Some in the Prayer Room movement have gone this direction as they have arrived to a special place and others just don't understand what they haven't "experienced".
Christian maturity misinterpreted
Biblical maturity is summarized by the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23: " The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." Shortcuts to spirituality abound in prayer room groups with other things being the badges. Speaking in tongues, praying in the 2nd coming of Christ, praise and worship meetings, prophetic manifestations, words of knowledge & wisdom .....all SEEM to provide a spirituality, but it is a false one.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
In summary, reader, if you or a loved one are involved in the prayer room/IHOP movement or any other fringe/cultic group, you have our prayers, we understand.
It would seem that much of the energy put into the Prayer Room ministry could be corrected with a simple dose of rightly dividing the word of truth but that is unlikely until an adherent experiences disillusionment. Here are some suggestions:
For many, the antidote is the new birth.
There is a need to understand the distinction between Israel (goes back to Abraham's call & his descendants) and the church (began in Acts 2) would help IHOP adherents see that different promises in scripture apply to Israel as compared to those made to the church. The conquering aspect of IHOP, would be exposed as actually fighting against the actual revelation of God for this age, an age that ends in rapture & judgment, not in gaining "holy habitations".
Understanding this present age is one of Christ rejection, and ends in judgment and apostasy. This is in contrast to the dominion and conquer-by-prayer and worship mindset.
Recognize the truth of the rapture, where the church is made up of strangers and foreigners passing through. The hope of believers is His coming for them, not their getting things ready here for Him.
That the time of ruling and reigning is the millennium, and not this age. It would appear that aspects of postmillennialism have returned under IHOP guise.
Understanding that the priesthood of believers today isn't to be mingled with the priesthood concepts of the OT. Israel is not the church nor vice versa. That which pertains to Israel still pertains to Israel, including that special priesthood class. in the NT all believers are priest.
Confusion of the OT with the NT should be exposed, such as ideas of "restoring the tabernacle of David." In other words, in the Bible the restoration of the tabernacle of David is a literal Israelite future event, whereas the IHOP adherent seeks to do this in the church framework....today, apart from Israel's kingdom.
Exposing the idea that a latter day "alive and awake and unafraid" generation during the darkest coming days, is not what a true believer in Christ will face. The believer in Christ is caught up before the tribulation, them that minister in that age are 144,000 of the tribes of Israel. It may well be that many of the IHOP adherents will see those darkest days while the true church is at the marriage of the Lamb.
A false prophecy must be addressed as such, and not sugarcoated and excused.
The Bible. A return to the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice.
Rebuke, exhort, and correct in love and patience.
Be aware that much of the gnostic "higher level" of attainment that Paul corrected the Colossians about, is exactly what is happening in many of these movements. Study that book.
And so it goes....with the potential to waste many years by being caught up in the cult.
READ HERE for testimony of one who left IHOP
READ HERE for more about a more biblical view of things prophetically:
READ HERE for more about IHOP:
READ HERE: for more about Spirituality and Charismata
READ HERE: for more about Hebrew Roots, a similar snare for young people:
READ HERE: for more about Sozo Prayer, which in various forms may accompany these type movements:
READ HERE: for more about the Critical Issues:
(note that links stand on their own merit, be a Berean and realize that you must discern the content of web sites we may link to, we are not carte-blanche supporting a web site that we may link to an article)