"Mike Bickle, founder of Metro Christian Fellowship of Kansas City, is co-director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), ministry director of 'Friends of the Bridegroom' and vice-president of Grace Training Center, a full time Bible School in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Mike is the author of several books, Passion For Jesus, Growing In The Prophetic, The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God and The Pleasures of Loving God.
Mike's teaching emphasis is in the area of developing passion for Jesus through the knowledge of the beauty of God. He especially focuses on the Bride of Christ, and the message of the forerunner ministry in context to a fasted life-style that proclaims Jesus as Bridegroom, King and Judge. He has a deep conviction of a victorious end time church. Mike's prayer goal is to see a 24-hour a day city-wide house of prayer in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David in every city of the earth before the Lord's return." (From "Tabernacle of David" website)
Way back in what seems another life, I researched the Kansas City Prophets phenomenon. That was, in its time, as gripping a tale as the Toronto Blessing and contained much the same material - manifestations, false prophecies and dominion doctrine.
Now some of the central figures involved in that discredited resurgence of the Latter Rain Movement are coming to public notice again for their Harp and Bowl initiative of round-the-clock prayer.
In order to understand the continuity of belief, we have to refer back to the earlier events. For any of you who missed the excitement here's a brief overview of KCP (Kansas City Prophets).
A group of prophets were gathered together at Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) - now called Metro Christian Fellowship - a church founded on a supposed prophecy received by its pastor, Mike Bickle. Bickle heard the "voice of God" through a young prophet and later in Cairo, Egypt in 1982 predicting that he would be used to raise up a mighty work in the earth. Later he was told that this work would be based in Kansas City.
The next year, 1983, Mike Bickle was introduced to Bob Jones, a man in his late 50's at that time who seemed to confirm the vision for a major worldwide move of God based in Kansas City. Bob Jones was a man who had visions of angels, heard voices, claimed to meet and talk with God almost every night, had out of the body experiences frequently and had hands that turned purple in the presence of sin.
The strange visions and statements of Bob Jones have been documented by a number of researchers and that work is too lengthy to reproduce here. However, his doctrines are peppered with MSOG/Latter-Rain teachings such as the One New Man, the Corporate Christ, Joel's Army and the restoration of the Melchizadek Priesthood.
On the latter subject he said:
"first he will bring the Five[Fold Ministries]..but there is a ministry after the fivefold called the ministry of PERFECTION, the Melchizadek priesthood. You that are children will be moving into the ministries of perfection...coming into the divine nature of Christ...not having to come out of the wilderness, but being birthed NATURAL into the Spirit, all their days moving in the Spirit. You are into the warfare, start to take the Promised Land..." (my emphasis, "Visions and Revelations" audio tape Mike Bickle/Bob Jones, Autumn 1989 KCMO)
Another practice of Bob Jones that had received a lot of attention and condemnation from various quarters is his "Shepherd's Rod". Every year on the Day of Atonement "God" visits Bob Jones in person, and gives him a kind of prophetic "Old Moore's Almanac" for the year ahead. In the early days, Jones taught that all the members of the church had to pass under this Rod and even said that those who were found unworthy would die. Others would be marked as especially worthy: "And if you be found alright, He marks you to be sacrificed as a living holy sacrifice unto Him. One out of ten is marked as totally unto the Lord. That's a Shepherd's rod". Bob Jones still produces these yearly prophecies. You can see them here on Bob Jones's website.
In 1986, Bickle and the other leaders formed a ministry called Grace Ministries "committed to seeing the church restored to the glory described in God's word - this team is composed of mature and proven men with apostolic and prophetic ministries..."
The vision of Grace Ministries and the Kansas City Fellowship was for creating apostolic teams to plant churches, setting up cell churches, forming the city church (one church per city overseen by an apostle) sending out the Joseph Company (sonship terminology for overcomers who prepare the way for the transformation) and creating Shiloh Ministries (a prophetic school), and the House of Prayer - 24-hour intercessory prayer.
The vision for the Harp and Bowl had already been given, in this climate of false prophecy and Latter Rain teaching, and CAME DIRECTLY OUT OF IT.
The official literature for the Harp and Bowl links the vision for it as being given at the same time that Bob Jones arrived at Bickle's church as the initial prophecy given to Mike Bickle for the "great move of God":
"In May 1983, [when Bickle met Bob Jones] the Lord gave a promise to the church at Metro Christian Fellowship that He would release in the midst of their city, a 24-hour a day, citywide ministry to the Lord in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David (Acts 15:14-18). This prayer ministry now includes continuous worship, intercession and warfare."
Another account (found here) credits the birth of Harp and Bowl to Paul Cain in 1996, but speaks of the vision for it being given in 1982, at the founding of Mike Bickle's church, thus neatly avoiding the Bob Jones scandal!
However, Paul Cain is hardly a more credible figure to have launched this initiative, being one of the foremost supporters of the Latter Rain Movement still in active ministry today.
In the mid 1980's Mike Bickle met Paul Cain, an elderly man who had been closely involved in the Latter Rain "revival" of the 1940's and who believed that the Movement had gone underground in the 1950's for a wilderness period of 40 years only to emerge into full flowering with a "new breed", a new generation of apostles and prophets who would fulfill the vision.
Cain went on record as saying that William Branham was the greatest prophet of his age. In 1987 Paul Cain was adopted as the "father" of the new work at Grace Ministries.
Cain, and a number of other false prophets with notable (notorious) ministries then became world famous for their activities and found themselves on the front pages of many Christian magazines and newspapers as the Kansas City Prophets.
They began to swallow up smaller churches in their locality, determined to produce the City Church under their apostolic headship. Spiritual abuses were commonplace.
The home team consisted of Paul Cain, Bob Jones (who was later disciplined for sexual impropriety) and John Paul Jackson with Mike Bickle as host and "interpreter" for some of the weirder dreams and visions. Later the team widened to include a host of other names, today well known in the revival.
The list of ministers joined to or associated with the work was impressive. They included:
- Francis Frangipane
- Ruevan Doran
- Larry Randolph
- David Ravenhill
- Jim Goll
- Harry Schroeder
- Jack Deere
- Rick Joyner
Then John Wimber and the Vineyard got involved, Paul Cain having adopted John Wimber as his mentor and spiritual father. In 1990, following public criticism and a hardhitting report prepared by Ernie Gruen, Mike Bickle submitted himself and Grace Ministries to John Wimber and all the fellowships associated with KCF became Vineyards. (Rather like the Toronto Fellowship, KCF were dropped by Vineyard subsequently when their activities became too troublesome.)
The FOTB (Friends of the Bridegroom) ministry of Mike Bickle actively links with Sonship/MSOG/Latter Rain prophets and apostles and many involved in the revival, including Tommy Tenney, Jack Deere, Sam Storms, John Kilpatrick and Jill Austin to name but a few.
The Church Deceived
At the height of activity of the Kansas City Prophets (late 80s to early 90s), American and English church leaders fell over themselves to applaud the KCP, with British evangelical leaders giving their support and approval to the team. British Christian David Pytches wrote a book called "Some Said It Thundered" giving a cleaned-up version of the origins and beliefs of KCP and this publicised the movement further in the UK.
Some, including myself, were vainly trying to warn Christians and leaders about the occultic manifestations, false prophecies and Latter-Rain doctrines of the group. However in those days few had even heard of the Latter Rain Movement and they missed the point. Most dismissed the warnings as scaremongering and an overreaction.
On the whole, major ministries and organisations in the UK as well as in the States (although concerned about various abuses) failed to see the real dangers.
A few individuals were left with the task of circulating damning tapes of false prophecies and dominionist doctrine by the KCP. Eventually by a sort of drip-feed system, the message got through, but not before the group had received widespread approval and support, and been promoted throughout the Church as bona fide. This early support has sustained Grace Fellowship (Metro Christian Fellowship) through the years and given its later activities some validity.
So we come to the subject of this article - the Harp and Bowl initiative.
What is the IHOP?
IHOP stands for International House of Prayer. Paul Cain used the letters also as an acrostic for the vision of the venture, which was Intercession, Holiness, Offerings and Prophecy.
Here is one official description of the work:
"The International House of Prayer is a 24-hours a day, citywide, worship and warfare, inter-denominational prayer ministry serving the body of Christ. This ministry is modeled after the tabernacle of David with singers and musicians being released to lead corporate intercession and worship 24-hours a day. This is an effective method for the churches in the county to come together and DWELL in unity so that God can unlock His commanded blessing. ...The Word of God Declares "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations" Mark 11:17. ... This House of Prayer for All Nations ministry includes continuous praise and prayer dethroning the principalities and power over a region declaring Gods sovereignty. This is in the spirit of Revelation 4-5 Harp & Bowl worship and warfare prayer gatherings, the harp representing praise and the bowl representing the prayers of the saints which is at the heart of Davids Tabernacle." (Revival Times website)
What is the "Harp and Bowl" vision?
"On May 7 1999, Mike Bickle and the IHOP ministry team dedicated a building to facilitate this ministry that began with 13 hours a day of intercession and spiritual warfare led by trained worship teams. In Sept. 1999, by God's grace they completed the full 24-hour a day schedule with singers and musicians leading each session. They believe that this model is the most effective context to train and send forth others who will 'plant' a House of Prayer in other cities. Their prayer goal is to see a 24 hour a day, citywide, House of Prayer (in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David) established in every major city of the earth before the Lord's return." (Ibid.)
What must be understood about the Harp and Bowl idea is that it is firmly planted in the soil of Sonship/Manifested Sons of God (MSOG) doctrine. (While there are differences in emphasis and belief between these two teachings, for the sake of clarity I will refer to them as the same thing here.)
Tabernacle of David
The key is the "Tabernacle of David" idea. This is central to all the Harp and Bowl work.
"David built a tent, a physical place were Gods glory dwelt and were [sic] people could go to meet with God...Solomon erected an actual temple building in the pattern of his father Davids tabernacle and on two occasions, the Weight of the Glory of God filled the temple as the priests ministered in prayer, praise and prophecy...This is what Gods [sic] is asking us to do today. ... We along with all of creation are longing for the unveiling of Gods power as God waits in heaven for the bowl of the prayers of the saints to be filled up so He can show His power. Prayer is directly related to the release of Gods power in scripture." (ibid)
The words "We along with all of creation are longing for the unveiling of Gods power" refer to the "manifestation of the sons of God" in Rom 8:19-23:
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
In MSOG teaching this scripture is taken to mean a powerful endtimes revelation of believers as glorified, transformed and perfected, and possessed by Christ to such a degree that they become One with him and become a living corporate Son of God on the earth, ruling with him. This will be accomplished by the descent of "the glory" in a final overwhelming event that will transfigure all those who receive it. (Other less heretical versions have this event as a progression into spiritual perfection and holiness in the endtimes.)
But, the passage is actually about the Second Coming and at that time the faithful of all generations will be revealed to the world as those who are one in Christ, his Bride and His Chosen. They will be revealed to take their place beside Jesus on the throne, as he promised. Thus, righteous rule and order will be restored to the world even during the millennium. When Jesus comes in triumph to set up his Kingdom, at that time nature will be restored to the fertility and beauty God intended, thus releasing creation from its bondage. THIS is what all creation longs for, and all mankind (if only they knew) - NOT for a spiritual invasion of love, a transfiguration of believers in the endtimes, a glory cloud or a latter rain anointing.
In any case, scripture says that we are ALREADY "sons of God" so the teaching that we have to attain sonship and "the adoption to sons" is off base from the very beginning.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. I Jn 3:2
Notice, too, that this "manifestation of the sons of God" takes place at the same time as the "redemption of our bodies" and that will not take place until the Resurrection. (Rev 20:6/John 6:40)
Nonetheless it is commonly taught today that we should work our way by levels up to sonship, and/or expect a massive anointing that will perfect and glorify the church (that is, just the prepared ones.)
Whichever way you look at it, the symbol of David's Tabernacle figures large in the teaching. So let's look into that.
Psalm 132 states that David could not rest until a dwelling place was established. Isaiah 62:6 states, we are to give God no rest until Jerusalem becomes a praise in the earth. Jesus told us to watch and wait day and night until he comes. We are to establish continual prayer vigils: watching, warring and waiting. There will be no rest until God truly has a dwelling place and our Jerusalem becomes a praise on the earth, Acts 1:8. (Revival Times, as before)
As we see from the quote above, the Tabernacle of David is taken as a symbol of God's Manifest Presence on earth. According to this teaching, we are to expect the Tabernacle to be rebuilt in the last days, not physically but spiritually by the church. They base this on a verse taken out of context:
Acts 15:16-17 "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."
This verse is of course a quote from the Old Testament. The original prophecy is found in Amos 9:8-15. Notice carefully the context:
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
Taken in context the scripture is about the restoration of the Remnant of Israel to their land and to God's blessing! It is speaking about the Messiah (of whom David was a type) coming to repair all things and to restore the glory to Israel. That he did accomplish and we are the living proof of it. The "glory" - the Holy Spirit" - DID at that time return to inhabit the "temple" of the Body of Christ and we are not still waiting for that event to take place. This scripture is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Notwithstanding, the Harp and Bowl vision is to copy the "blueprint" of the OT Tabernacle in order to return to the experience of David - kingship, rulership, priestly dominion and heavenly glory!
The Lord has given us a heavenly blueprint to enable us to tap into the throne room of God. ....When David established his tabernacle to God he re-instituted the Melchizedeck priestly, kingly anointing. Melchizedeck was a King and Priest; David was a King and a Priest... Scripture declares all Christians to be Kings and Priests. Jesus restored the Melchizedeck priesthood and kingship combined into one office and thus we as the Body of Christ are vessels of restoration for the Melchizedeck Priesthood. (Ibid.)
This "priesthood" is seen as dominion and rulership, as the Government of God on the earth. How is it to be achieved? By non-stop worship, music and intercession.
In the House of Prayer worship releases the kingly spiritual authority to go out and demonstrate the power of Christ. We as New Testament Christian function in our kingly role through ministering in our priestly anointing of prayer, intercession, praise and prophecy.
If we are to have global revival and awakening we need to have a restoration of 24 hour praise and intercession all over the world, Its time that the fulfillment of the prophecies of Old to become reality. It is time that we fulfill the word of God and obey the commands of Jesus, to make it an occupation of occupying the enemies camp, to occupy until He comes. ...The church is to be the vessel, the temple through which Gods beauty, glory and power manifest in the earth today. (ibid)
THE ROLE OF MUSIC
As I have said before in other articles on this site, music is playing an increasingly important role in the bringing of the anointing and the glory. Although not exactly sure why music is such a powerful medium for spiritual experiences, I know this is true. Time and again music, singing, chanting, praising and signing in tongues for long periods is presented as the way to achieve manifestations.
A study posted to http://www.fni.com/worship/199904/msg00317.html about the role of worship in the Harp and Bowl model is enlightening on this subject.
The Ministry of the Harp, the Bowl and the Scepter
Subtitled: The Harp of Praise, the Bowl of Incense and the Scepter of Righteousness - releasing apostolic power in the earth.
- Effective praise and worship accomplishes numerous things - first of which is the drawing of humanity to God....
- The Scripture states as well that the Lord dwells upon or inhabits the praises of His people. (Ps.22:3)
- Within His Presence comes His power....
- Anointed worship affects us on every level, body, soul and spirit....
- Praise and worship also transforms us (2 Cor. 3:18).
- Praise and worship is also associated with the release of the gifts and anointings of the Holy Spirit...
- There is even a dimension of spiritual warfare and Kingdom authority released during times of high praises to God....
- Praise is a weapon of war, because praise arouses the Lord to a place of zeal. Praise releases judgment against our enemies.
- Wherever there is true worship, we also see a release of a dimension of authority that is characteristic of the apostolic. Heaven's authority visits earth....Restored dimensions of worship release restored dimensions of authority, out of which apostolic order is released on the earth.
- Prayer is essential for the release of heaven's rule on the earth. ...Prayer fuels the fire of God's manifested Glory in the church.
Further portions from this study show how David's Tabernacle is a model for the DOMINION of Apostles and Prophets in the church today:
The tabernacle of David, known of and planned by God from eternity past, was now beginning to be rebuilt. But what exactly is this "House" that God said He Himself would rebuild in the last days?...In the days of King David's dominion, righteousness ruled out of Zion.... David's rule on earth represented God's rule through man....A restoration of David's fallen tabernacle is not only a return to worship, but a return to God's rule among men.
While David is known as a prophet, he can also be viewed as a type of apostolic government through his service as a righteous king. The House of David, in fact, is destined to rule forever throughout eternity....... The significance of this "House" is much greater than most realize as pertaining to the characteristics, dominion and commission of the last days Church.
Now therefore we have leapt straight out of the Old Testament into the New, seeing a direct symbolic parallel between the Tabernacle of David's day and the Church of today. To some extent this is accurate, since we are indeed "God's House" and the dwelling place of His Spirit. However, did the writers of the NT mean us to understand that we would RULE as kings and priests (before the Second Coming) in the same way as the OT King David?
We see this "house" described in several sections of New Testament Scripture. Paul described it in his letter to the Ephesians....WE are the house of God. We are the tabernacle being restored. We have become the expression of kingdom dominion after the order of David, a "nation of kings and priests"...
It is our destiny and purpose to be extensions of God's rule in the earth.... He desires to rule THROUGH US. He desires to grant apostolic authority - His rule - to His church. He wants to extend His scepter of righteousness through us. That scepter is bestowed and utilized as we take up the ministry of the harp of praise, and the bowl of prayer and intercession. Then through the authority of righteousness we will reign on the earth - extending his rule as "the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1:23)
Since dominion and governmental rule is expected (accomplished by continual praise and worship in the Harp and Bowl model) there is an element of judgement upon sinners and the rebellious who fail to conform to this Davidic Rule. This means that Christians today are anticipating their role as judges!
When we are releasing the ministry of the harp - worship and praise to the King of the Kingdom; and the ministry of the bowls - prayers from the saints for His kingdom to come and His will to be done; we then see His rule as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah begin to happen in and through his people. We have known Jesus as the Lamb of God, our Savior, but soon we will see Him manifested as a Lion, a ferocious Warrior and the King and Judge of all the earth. ... He is about to be revealed as Ruler and Judge. With that revelation will also come the realization that the last-days church is being called with Him and through Him into that same role of ruler and judge...
It is clear that there is MUCH more behind the Harp and Bowl idea than simple intercession for our localities and the desire to see people blessed and saved! While it's never a bad idea to pray, the concept of 24-hour prayer and worship is rooted in revivalist dogma. It is supposed, somehow, to impel God to "come", to "judge" and to "rule" on earth - with his Church as his governmental Agency! This is far from scriptural.
Does God Inhabit Praise?
Finally, since so much is being invested in the concept of anointed praise, it needs to be said that God's Presence DOES NOT "inhabit" or "dwell in" praise! When we worship we are not "setting up a Throne" for Jesus, or calling down the Glory.
Much (or all?) of the teaching on praise bringing God's presence into the Church is based on one obscure verse of scripture that I believe has been misinterpreted. (See http://www.worshipmap.com/compassnf/cl-psalm22.html for an article on this subject.)
Psalm 22 verse three says "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
The word "inhabit" means to sit down (as to judge) but is translated elsewhere in the bible as "enthroned" - but does this verse say in Hebrew that God is enthroned on our praise? NO. The verse literally reads: But Thou/ Holy/ enthroned/ the praise of/ Israel.
Some translations, therefore, opt for a different interpretation, for the Hebrew is ambiguous here. For instance the NIV translates it "Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel." The Living Bible also opts for this interpretation: " for you are holy. The praises of our fathers surrounded your throne; they trusted you and you delivered them." I do not personally like these translations but I am referring to them here simply to illustrate the ambiguity of the Hebrew.
One title of the Lord is "The Praise - or "boast" - of Israel". The scripture could therefore be translated as "Thou art holy, enthroned as the Praise of Israel."
But in any case, even if the conventional translation is accepted, does the idea of God enthroned upon praise actually mean that when we praise and worship God long enough and strong enough he actually comes down in his manifest presence to "inhabit" the Church - sometimes as a visible glory cloud of blue smoke or an overwhelming sensation of heaviness, or whatever? I do not believe that is what the scripture teaches.
I think it's pretty conclusive that the Harp and Bowl's origins are steeped in error; that the people involved in it are discredited; that its purpose is to bring about some kind of false revival; and that its foundation, doctrines and modus operandi are flawed beyond all hope of recovery. This is yet another arm of the endtimes apostasy.
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IHOP-KC ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NEW BUILDING
As the ministry continues to expand here in Kansas City we have outgrown the current International House of Prayer building. Therefore, we are purchasing a nearby strip mall complex that would serve both the International House of Prayer as well as the Forerunner School of Prayer and IHOP Internship program. This new "Shiloh Annex Building" has approx. 50,000 square feet. The total cost of this facility (including renovations) is 2 million dollars. Renovation costs will exceed $300,000.