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Amy Spreeman is founder and co-blogger at Berean Research and also a contributing blogger at Pirate Christian Radio’s Berean Examiner blog. She has been a broadcaster and freelance writer for 25 years. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

What about IHOP?

We’re getting a few questions about IHOP, or International House of Prayer. As we begin to research and report, we always encourage you to go to the Word of God and prayer to increase your discernment over issues as they arise.  There are some concerns over the IHOP organization. Here is what www.GotQuestions.org reports:

Question: “What is the International House of Prayer (IHOP)?”

Answer:The “International House of Prayer” (IHOP) is a para-church ministry located in south Kansas City, Missouri. IHOP was founded by Rev. Mike Bickle in 1999. Its primary purpose seems to be international prayer of intercession. Since 1999, the International House of Prayer has experienced explosive growth, with the group acquiring significant amounts of property in Grandview, Missouri, and opening up satellite branches in other cities. The rapid expansion, the unusual practices, the fierce loyalty of many IHOP members, and the relative newness of the ministry have led many to question whether the International House of Prayer is a biblically-solid ministry or a cult.

At the International House of Prayer, there is active prayer taking place, literally 24/7, without interruption, and this has been the case for many years. 24/7 prayer is a good thing. There is no such thing as “praying too much,” so, in this area, IHOP is to be commended. The problem arises, however, in the type of prayer that is taking place. The International House of Prayer has adopted many of the practices of the contemplative prayer movement, with much more focus on mysticism and contemplative spirituality than on worshipping the Lord in prayer and interceding for others through prayer. Some elements of the IHOP employ prayer in a Word-Faith manner, claiming things from God rather than submitting to God’s will in humility. There are also reports of prophetic prayer, praying in tongues, and other ecstatic practices. So, while 24/7 prayer is commendable, if the prayers being uttered are not biblical, there is no true value in them.

Another concern with the International House of Prayer is its connection with the prophetic movement in general, and the Kansas City Prophets specifically. Instead of a biblical understanding of prophecy, that is, declaring the truth that God has revealed, IHOP essentially views prophets as Christian psychics, with prophetic hotlines, prophetic readings, and an emphasis on personal prophecy. Many have been led astray by those claiming to be apostles and prophets with a “word from the Lord.” There have been many reports of spiritual abuse and prophetic manipulation within the International House of Prayer movement.

This misunderstanding of the gift of prophecy leads to another area of concern. The International House of Prayer has an extreme over-emphasis on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Much has already been written on the cessation of the miraculous gifts, but IHOP’s use of these gifts goes far beyond what most Charismatics and Pentecostals will accept. At IHOP, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are expected to be commonplace. Miraculous healings, visions, dreams, prophecies, tongues, words of knowledge, signs, wonders, etc., are claimed to be constant within the ministries of IHOP. Whether full cessationism is accepted or not, IHOP’s claims regarding the gifts of the Spirit do not at all agree with what the Bible presents. In the New Testament, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit authenticated the teachings of the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12). If miracles are normal, they cannot have an authenticating quality to them. IHOP’s claims regarding miracles do not agree with what the Bible teaches about miracles, signs, and wonders. We would all be wise to remember Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

With all of that said, clearly IHOP should not be considered a biblically-sound ministry/organization. The above concerns are only the “tip of the iceberg” in comparison to some of the things that have been reported by former IHOP members/participants. Should the International House of Prayer movement be considered a cult? That is more difficult to answer. Generally speaking, a cult is a group that has false teaching on one or more of the core truths of the Christian faith, such as the deity of Christ or salvation by faith alone. On these core truths, IHOP appears to be solid and biblical. However, other common identifying factors of a cult are present at IHOP, such as it being controlled primarily be one individual, fierce loyalty to the organization, communal living, and a feeling of superiority over the uninitiated. So, while the International House of Prayer should probably not be considered a cult, there are enough serious concerns about its beliefs and practices that should prevent Christians from getting involved in its ministries.

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20 Responses to “What about IHOP?”

  1. Julie #

    My son was involved with IHOP for 10 years. It was terrible, it seemed to change his whole personality. He shut himself off from any other views and I could never see where they ever reached out to help anyone except people involved in IHOP. It is such a long, detailed and sad story. Way too much to get into in a short note. He joined after his 3rd year in college and never went back to college. It literally tore our family apart! Now finally he has quit IHOP and moved far away from it. His personality and sense of humor is returning and he is once again becoming the loving, Christian he was before being pulled into this Cultish organization. I am hoping he will use his experience to reach out to others considering this place or those already involved who are being mislead away from the true meaning of Christianity. Parents beware….College is where he was drawn in. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN to your kids. Stay on top of it !! Pull him home if you have to. You will be so glad you did and so will GOD!!

    March 25, 2014 at 6:22 PM
  2. xaris4u #

    I've been associated with IHOP for nearly all of it's 15 year history. My family and I moved to Kansas City to join staff three years ago. I'm a graduate of Fuller Seminary with a M.Div in Christian Formation and Discipleship. Worked with evangelical leaders of nearly every stripe and nationality in Fuller's doctoral program. Over the 30+ years of professional/pastoral ministry have cultivated very close associations with numerous other evangelistic ministries; YWAM, Campus Crusade for Christ; Jews for Jesus. I don't know one leader/staff member at IHOP (teacher, worship leader, or support staff) who doesn't subscribe to every tenet of the Nicean creed. (A universal marking point for all definitions of "cult". If you become dysfunctional in praxis, it will also manifest in dysfunctional theology.)
    I've never been associated with a group of believers who spend more time praying over and studying the Word of God; have an inerrant view of the Word of God, and are ardently letting the Word of God cultivate a thorough, authentic love for the Man, Christ Jesus within them.
    This community is also extremely mobilized to mission and evangelism – both in terms of organized strategy, in partnership with hundreds of sound, orthodox, evangelical missions organizations; and in terms of developing incarnational lifestyles of evangelism. It's not even close… It is almost impossible to find a staff person who has not spent time on a foreign mission field or is preparing themselves for missions work.
    I've invested my life in "marrying" the discipline of Biblical intercession with the Matthew 28:19 mandate. I can honestly say, that I've not met another slice of Christian evangelicalism that is more deeply committed to equipping the Bride of Jesus Christ to be Biblically sound, prayer-fueled witnesses of Jesus Christ than the people I've known and worked with here at IHOP-KC.
    Our Father's Ephesians 4:2 & 3 blessings to each of you.

    February 8, 2014 at 3:11 AM
  3. G R Davis #

    I visited IHOP several times over the last few weeks. Here are some warning signs I see:

    "Special" groups of people are separated to pray in isolation for extended periods of time.

    Misty Edwards writes all her songs in the first person. Not some, not most, but all of them I heard were self centered, self proclaiming love songs with Jesus as her Lover.

    The prayer room bands all use mantras, sometimes playing the same chords for 30-45 minutes. It's hypnotizing and encouraging an altered state of consciousness.

    Security guards wear pistols and constantly patrol the place.

    Students are encouraged to ask everyone they know for money.

    July 3, 2013 at 9:48 PM
  4. Julia #

    Hello, I am glad to have read these posts! My brother has been at IHOP for several years. He first began doing one internship, which turned into two, which turned into being on staff. His whole life is there. I have seen major changes in his personality, mannerisms, and beliefs since his time there. I am a follower of Christ, and he struggles to hear any of my concerns about his deep, deep involvement, even though I spent several years at IHOP conferences. I have done a couple of years of research, and spoken with many pastors and teachers, not to mention the Lord. If you are considering going to IHOP, please, please listen to the believers surrounding you. Do the research and do not dismiss red flags. It is extremely dangerous because it teaches many truths, and many falsities.

    April 25, 2013 at 6:26 PM
  5. Tony #

    Mathew: 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    February 23, 2013 at 1:21 AM
  6. emily c. #

    Our 16 year old daughter was considering an internship at ihop when she turns 18. We visited their Friday service last weekend. We have a close friend who works there but does not call himself a "hardcore ihopper". He filled us in on some of the redflags he's picked up in his time there. He has experience in cult life as he lived in a cult commune as a young man. He said he definitely sees that kind of behavior there. But he loves the worship there and loves his job. My daughter decided against an internship in light of all the unsettling background, false doctrine and personal stories from people who have come out of that movement.

    July 16, 2012 at 2:43 AM
  7. Hi April,
    Actually neither this article (from GotQuestions.org) nor the folks at Stand Up have ever stated being against speaking in tongues. In fact my co-host has said many times on our program that he has done this twice. And even though I never have, it doesn't mean that I am a cessationist, which I am not.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:50 PM
  8. April Martin #

    "Praying in tongues" is a Biblical practice according to my Bible where the Apostle Paul says he does this more than the other believers. "

    He who speaks in tongues edifies himself..?He who speaks in tongues edifies himself…I would like every one of you to speak in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:4,5).

    A common problem I find in virtually all these sites that expose (admittedly) false shepherds, etc, is that they are blended with the OPINIONS of man or the authors. The fact that you don't believe in speaking in tongues doesn't make it ungodly. This dilutes your points and make it less believable.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:55 AM
  9. [email protected] #

    I must say, having gone through your archives of past articles, I came across the IHOP one. I was greatly troubled with the response of the article and the lack of touching on the roots of just who is affiliated with IHOP and what it promotes. "Jesus" may be the banner and prayer and all that seemingly "Christian" theme. But I encourage anyone to do some research as to just what lies beneath that movement the roots of it. I've seen countless video clips of kids going into those kundalini manifestations calling it the "holy ghost", their emphasis on just 5 books of the book -Daniel, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Joel, and Revelations. I know folks personally who have family members there and they are greatly disillusioned. IHOP-ers are thought to think they are the "elect" of whom Jesus talked about in the last days, but instead they use the word "forerunners". The music is nothing less of hypnotic. I personally, for example, was into Misty Edwards' music but was often taken back with her almost romantic-ness towards Christ in some of her songs. And of course IHOP is big on the bridal paragim, and they take intimacy with Christ to a whole new level. I encourages you and your readers/ supporters to further investigate on your own. But just cause something seems good and Godly does not mean its from God the Father in the bible.  Plainly said, Mike Bickel is a false prophet

    March 22, 2012 at 7:50 AM
  10. John Barker #

    Amy, I am writing an email but have to finish it later after work. Just wanted to let you know I saw this 😉

    November 30, 2011 at 7:10 AM
  11. I was doing some research today about the Latter Rain movement, and came across this article. It was written by Bob DeWaay, a respected apologist, researcher, author and watchman. I was wondering what you thought of it?

    November 29, 2011 at 4:24 PM
  12. Mr Davis #

    Believers should would watch for the warning signs in whatever group a believer is part of. We have a responsibility to confront one another in love and humility where any is in error. We are all of us desperatly wicked, morally evil so there is no reason not to approach anyone in all humility. All are at the mercy of Gods grace. How a person receives rebuke or correction will give you some understanding as to where they are at and whether they desire reconcilliation. This is the ministry we are given by God.

    Things to watch for: If these things show up and are not addressed the body is not functioning as intended.

    If there is a surperior attitude in those who are iniated in, that is not from God.
    If there is any revelation contrary to the written word that is not from God.
    If any man is exhalted that is not from God.
    If the actions of the group are contrary to the written word that is not from God. See all the one anothers mentioned in the Scriptures.
    If the cross is not exhalted, If the Gospel is not exhalted as the final and complete solution it is not from God.
    If institutions are exhalted as the solution that is the same as exhalting man and that is not from God.
    If there is teaching that God is in any way shape or form dependant on man's response to Him that is not from God. God is not dependant or subordinate to any man.

    I would be careful of holding up any organization as wholly right because of the falability of mankind. Rather as a body of believers we are all of us to strive together in obedience to the Gospel and calling we have received. If we think we have arrived then we do not understand God at all.


    November 29, 2011 at 1:14 AM
  13. GREAT post, Mark!

    November 28, 2011 at 2:25 AM
  14. Mark Stewart #

    Miracles are God's way of meeting the needs of those who seek Him in faith. Miracles will sometimes be used to demonstrate God's ability so that people may believe (Mk. 2:10-11), but they will not happen to skeptics who are tempting God (Lk. 4:9-12).

    A miracle is a supernatural intervention of God's power over natural law.

    Healings occur within the boundaries of natural law while miracles are not limited to natural law. A person with a high fever who receives prayer and then begins to recover is experiencing a healing. The Lord intervened but in natural ways. The virus, infection, or whatever was rebuked left the body (Lk. 4:39) and then the natural healing process that the Lord built into all of us took over. When something totally supernatural happens, that's a miracle. When Jesus reattached the servant's ear and it was instantly whole after Peter cut it off (Lk. 22:51), demonstrated a miracle. It was also a healing, but it was a miraculous healing.

    Feeding the five thousand (Mt. 14:19-20), walking on the water (Mt. 14:25), translating a ship and all aboard to the other side of the sea (Jn. 6:21) – all these are miracles. Miracles are usually instantaneous whereas healings are sometimes gradual.

    The Lord has never had anyone who was qualified working for Him. It's by God's grace that He uses any of us. Anyone who claims to be used of God because of his great holiness is either deceived or a deceiver. It's our faith in the grace of God that allows miracles to flow through us

    Matthew 24:4 "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you."
    MATTHEW 24:3-5

    Deception can be avoided or else Jesus would not have said, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Satan can only deceive those who allow him to do it.

    Ephesians 6:11 tells us to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Putting on the whole armour of God will protect you from the deception of the devil. Just wearing part of God's armour will not fully protect you. Many Christians have been running around with the helmet of salvation on but nothing else. There is more to overcoming the devil than just being saved. We have to understand our righteous position in the Lord. We also must possess faith, know the Word, and understand the gospel of peace.

    The Christian life is a constant struggle against Satan, who is trying to corrupt us. Most Christians are aware of the warfare, but they don't know where the warfare is occurring. The battle is in our mind. Just as the serpent didn't come against Eve with brute force, but rather used words to deceive her, likewise Satan tries to corrupt us through thoughts contrary to the gospel. Satan's original tactic was deception and that is still his method of operation today.

    One of the characteristics of children is that they are easily deceived. They are gullible. One of the things that must take place to move from childhood into sonship is spiritual discernment. This comes from being grounded in the Word of God.

    The way to recognize deception is not to analyze all the false claims but rather to become so familiar with what is genuine that a counterfeit will be easily recognizable. Anyone who is truly grounded in the Word of God will not be deceived.
    Andrew Wommack
    I have many friends at IHOP and love the work God is doing in the entire group. Bless them all

    November 28, 2011 at 2:04 AM
  15. John Barker #

    Watch this video that is referenced in the above link, this is Mike Bickles teaching on what they say is Contemplative Prayer. He bases everything solidly on the word, and directs the people to God the Holy Spirit, and warns against the false eastern mysticism.


    As Amy and Mike said, take these things to the Lord in prayer and the word. This article is misrepresenting what IHOP is about, and brings division against a solid ministry. Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for the saints, if we have a problem with what someone does, why don't we pray for them? It is Satan that appears before the throne as the accuser of the brethren.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:18 AM