Meet My “Chickens” – Interns and Externs!

It’s been too long since I posted an update here. A lot of things happened all at once, but I’ve finally caught my breath and can share some pics and news!

First of all, just to bless you (or click video link HERE):

In my role as head of the Forerunner Equipping Center at The Prayer Room, I serve as “mother hen” over our Immerse Internship, School of Supernatural Ministry, and any other student programs we may be running at the time. Right now, I have a total of nine “chickens” in my programs!

On May 27, we launched another summer Immerse internship! (Check it out on our website HERE.) This one is special because we completely revamped the curriculum to make it even more dynamic and strengthening. We have seven interns, most of whom are very new to our community and the message of the house of prayer. They are already encountering God and getting their minds blown by what He’s doing in the earth! Immerse includes 8 hours a week in the prayer room, weekly Encounter service, monthly three-day Global Bridegroom Fast, and five hours of classroom time a week. Classroom sessions include theology on intimacy with Christ, the biblical foundation of the house of prayer, LOTS of end times, practical how-tos for developing and sustaining a life of prayer, Bible discussion night, and community night.

We do Immerse both to help anchor young adults in the message of intimacy with Jesus and the importance of night and day prayer, and also as an onramp for those who may feel called to join missionary staff with us. Two of these girls (the two immediately to my left) are already on volunteer staff with us after doing previous programs. We’re praying that God would capture the hearts of one or two more to radically uproot the lives they had planned and choose to give themselves full-time to the vision of night and day prayer unto Jesus’ return and a great end-time revival!

Over the years The Prayer Room has hosted a number of IHOPU students who come as externs to experience a few months of missionary life at a smaller house of prayer, and several of the externs have decided to join us long-term. We did not expect to have any externs this summer, but at the last minute a different externship location fell through, and we ended up receiving not one but TWO amazing young women who are serving with us for eight weeks this summer! In the wake of one of our leadership team recently transitioning off, I’ve inherited leadership of our externship program and it’s great! Their first day was officially June 4.

Jarah and Christi are incredible and have already been such a strength to our team. Both have a passion to devote themselves to lifestyles of prayer to serve what God is doing in our generation and to see Jesus have His inheritance in the adoration of the nations. They are helping sustain prayer and worship in the prayer room and are also serving as assistants to division heads in two of our busiest divisions.

Other things that happened the past few months:

  • The Prayer Room hosted an IHOPU ministry trip of 20-some students for a week in April! I hosted three girls in my house, and they all served in the prayer room and around the city, leading worship, praying, prophesying, and ministering in the love of God. We love IHOPU!
  • Immediately after the IHOPU trip, I travelled home to California for a week to watch my sister graduate college and get engaged!! It was a very special and exciting week to spend with family and my spiritual community back home.
  • I joined a summer dance program at a local Christian dance studio! Every Monday evening (my ONLY day off), I’ve been dancing for four and a half hours in a rotating variety of styles with super kind and gifted teachers and students. Tap, ballet, lyrical, and jazz have been my favourites so far. I haven’t had a real dance class since high school, and it’s been such a gift to my heart to push my body to create in this way again.

Current resource recommendation:

A few weeks ago, Brad preached on “Awakening Our Hearts for Revival” and it was POWERFUL. We talked about some of the high points of revival history and cast a vision again for what it is exactly we’re praying for. It stirred something up in our community that we’re still figuring out how to ride the wave of… it really seems like God is calling us deeper in this area! Stream or download the session HERE.

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“He is a real Person with arm hair” – IHOPU Graduation Speech

It’s rare that I post things on my blog that I did not write, but this is a highly remarkable exception. IHOPU celebrated its 2018 graduation on May 19. On that day, Mike Bickle, the founder and senior leader of IHOPKC, was supposed to give a speech. Instead, he gave his time to graduating senior Halie Benson, whom he had heard give this speech at the Baccalaureate the night before.

To all of this I can only say YES AND AMEN. This is what I also discovered through my four years at IHOPU, and what I am continually discovering day after day in our prayer room in Dallas.

This vision isn’t just for IHOPU students or full-time missionaries. This invitation is for EVERYONE who is hungry to know Jesus and desires to make Him their “one thing” (Psalm 27:4).

The prayer room isn’t about me making myself feel good. It’s about me encountering the Person of Jesus and becoming His friend.

Halie Benson IHOPU Baccalaureate/Graduation Speech

Full Transcript | May 18-19, 2018

This is to IHOPU students and OTI [One Thing Internship] as well, and to anyone who has a hungry heart.

We do not sit in that Global Prayer Room to subtly fuel our agenda for impact, deliverance of the heart, or even the improvement of life, although those things do happen. I do not come to His cross with my worst faults and perverted sins to confess so I feel clean. I do not sing the Word to make my heart feel. I do not choose to give thanks because it produces in me a happy heart. I do not study the Word because it will prepare me for when the storm of the end of the age hits. I do not study the Lord’s return so that I won’t fall to deception. We do not give ourselves to intercession to make a prayer meeting meaningful. We do not engage in the Great Commission by counting the cost and forsaking a self-centered gospel.

I have found: He is not my mascot. He is not my “buddy”. He is not an idea. He is not the means to my end. He is far different than I painted Him to be in the beginning.

We, IHOPU and One Thing– we have found HIM in the place of prayer. We talk to Him in the place of prayer.

We sit in the Global Prayer Room to look at and listen to Jesus . . . a real Person with arm hair. He breathes, He laughs, He sings, and He cries. His voice has tone. His hands have real scars that bring back memories. He smells I’m sure, but what like—I can’t wait to find out. We hear His Story and find ourselves invited.

We come to the Global Prayer Room to agree with the only Good Guy in the Story. We come to the crucified Christ with our worst faults and perverted sins to see Him more clearly and our hands stained with blood. We sing His Word to make His holy heart happy when ours are satisfied in His. We choose to give thanks because we are victims of His grace. We study His Word to see Him rightly and to discover what God is like. We give ourselves to His end-time purposes because we can’t actually wait to meet Him. We engage in the Great Commission because He desires them in patience, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

That Man on that throne is listening. He is watching. His heart is burning and it makes me tremble. He is the ever-living Godhead. A Person who has been alive and well for two thousand years watching and searching for hearts to incline towards His. The fullness of deity dwells in His bodily form and this makes the Father so happy. In IHOPU I have caught a glimpse of His Story from Genesis to Revelation. And sometimes, in the place of prayer, when I get real close, I feel His heart ache.

Oh, that I would be found His dearest friend. His secret keeper. His witness. His sister. His servant. His volunteer. The One who was with the Father and declared light to come and creation to sing–I talk to Him.

Yes, it is You, oh Lord. I have found You to be my Lover, and not my Master. You are FASCINATING, and You are BEAUTIFUL.

And this is the verse that I want to claim in my life, and I know IHOPU students as well and OTI students as well.

[Psalm 27:4]
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.

Amen.

What I’m Reading: Growing as a Prophetic Singer

I’m a prophetic singer in the house of prayer, but it kind of happened by accident. I’ve had very little musical training, and when I first went to IHOPU it was not with the intention of being trained as a singer or worship leader. I had a few opportunities to sing on student teams (with other non-music students), and I had several excellent coaches who gave me some great encouragement and pointers, but it wasn’t until I became part of a smaller house of prayer in Texas and found myself leading worship with my meager skills 10+ hours a week that I started to take myself more seriously as a singer and worship leader. I still feel very green as a singer, and I need all the help and encouragement I can get!

Anna Blanc is one of the singers/worship leaders at IHOPKC I most respect and admire for her faithfulness and humility in singing in the prayer room for years and for her earnestness and Bible-centredness in pressing into God through her worship. Plus, she’s dang talented. Her song “Isaiah 42” (“You are the Lord, that is Your name/Your glory You will not give to another to be praised”) is one of my favourite anthems to declare the supremacy of Jesus in the context of His return.

We have Anna’s book, Growing as a Prophetic Singer, in our little library at The Prayer Room. I picked it up this week, thinking I probably would really benefit from learning from Anna.

Boy, was I right.

Anna’s book addresses the varied dimensions of anointing, excellence, and endurance that affect a prophetic singer. All three are vitally important. A person can be highly skilled without having that anointing from God that makes them a truly powerful prophetic singer, and a person can also be super anointed without pursuing excellence and the increase of skill at whatever level they may be. We don’t have to choose one or the other. God gives anointing, often in response to diligent seeking, and He also values excellence as an extravagant offering. And on top of these two components, it also takes endurance to persevere through the emotional roller coaster that is singing on worship teams for years–through promotion, demotion, and just plain mundaneness.

Here are a few of the key themes I was strengthened by in this book:

  • Stewardship over our gifting and calling involves growing in both anointing and excellence. As I said above, we need God to fill us with His Spirit, and we also need to continue growing in musical excellence.
  • God is glorified in our obedience and worship, even when we are weak. For the beginning singer (or the proficient singer on an off day!), God is still so delighted by our sacrifice of praise.
  • Singing to God alone in the secret place is so precious to Him. He LOVES hearing our songs when no one else is around! Those hidden times are often more powerful and transformative than worship experiences before a huge audience.
  • Both promotion and demotion bring unique challenges. When we’re promoted, we can easily become prideful. When we’re demoted, we can easily become offended (which also stems from pride). God strategically takes us through both to purify us.
  • Singing the Word anointed by the Spirit is POWERFUL. God moves so powerfully when we declare His truth in song. There’s really nothing like it.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who desires to touch the heart of God through singing, especially in a team context, and especially especially through prophetic worship in a house of prayer. (Really, a lot of it applies to anyone in ministry in general.)

It’s on our library shelf at The Prayer Room, so feel free to read it here at the base if you’re local, or you can pick it up on Amazon or IHOPKC.

BONUS — Anna has a number of videos on youtube sharing her heart as well as practical tips to grow as a singer, which can be found on this playlist linked here.

Kansas City IHOPU Recruiting Trip

Every year, IHOPU in Kansas City, where I was a student for four years, hosts an externship expo and ministry fair for their students who will be required to serve on a senior externship. Various ministries and houses of prayer come to recruit students to come spend a season serving. This was how I first got connected with The Prayer Room in 2014 and 2015.

The past several years as we’ve recruited from IHOPU, we have had 14 externs, 5 of whom stayed on staff. The same three of TPR’s senior staff (Brad, Lisa, and Caslin) go together every year, and due to a scheduling conflict, I was invited to go for Lisa this year.

It was such a special experience for me to travel with Brad and Caslin to represent The Prayer Room at IHOPU. I remember well what it felt like to be a student hearing from so many different ministries and praying about where I should go. The TPR team was amazing at reaching out and getting to know me then, and the opportunity to do the same for the next generation of students was an incredible honour.

We drove 9 hours to KC on February 8, and arrived at the home of our dear friends and TPR-to-IHOPKC transplants Andrew and Lauren Meek. The next day was the expo and ministry fair. Brad was given five minutes to give a short presentation about The Prayer Room at the expo. He shared his testimony of how in 2005 he had been a missionary in Africa getting kidnapped by crime lords and seeing Muslims get saved, and then God abruptly called him back to Texas and soon after gave him the most clear and dramatic word of his life: “Start a daily prayer meeting tomorrow morning at 5am and don’t stop until I come back.” And thus TPR was born as a daily 5am living room prayer meeting that over the years has grown into our own building with live prayer and worship 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We were one of the last presentations, so the students’ attention was starting to drift, but the story had them gripped. We got to talk to dozens of them afterward at the ministry fair, and we tried to set up coffee meetings with them all. The next day we had close to 20 coffee meetings with students every 30 minutes.

We made several great connections and look forward to keeping in touch with these students as they consider their futures. Please pray with us that God would lead some of them to extern and/or serve long-term at The Prayer Room!

Our table at the ministry fair

Clockwise from top left: Caslin, Whitney (TPR’s first extern, now a missionary in Hong Kong), Brad, and me

What I’m Praying: Global Bridegroom Fast

I’ve never blogged on fasting before, because I’ve wanted to be careful about the way I’m honoring Matthew 5:16-18. But this is important, and it is something that’s currently happening in our community, so if it can be an encouragement to anyone, here you go.

When I was at IHOPKC, I was introduced to something called the Global Bridegroom Fast. The Global Bridegroom Fast is a monthly three-day fast, the first Monday through Wednesday of every month, that the house of prayer sets aside as a community to pursue Jesus through fasting. I remember there being a real sense of unity and spiritual hunger as we intentionally refocussed on what this is all about.

We call it a “bridegroom” fast because of what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist when they asked why He and his disciples weren’t fasting:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)

Jesus tied fasting to longing for His presence and for His return. In this type of fast, we’re primarily asking God to renew and stir up love for Jesus in our hearts and to refocus our hearts on longing for His return, what Titus 2:13 calls our “blessed hope”.

At The Prayer Room, we also value a lifestyle of fasting, since it was one of the primary aspects of godly life that Jesus identified in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18) as well as being a key component of seeking God’s mercy on a people (eg Joel 2:12). For years, we’ve devoted ourselves to weekly fasting, and many of us made Thursday our staff fasting day. Recently, however, we’ve felt God leading us to switch it up and join in with IHOPKC, and in fact hundreds of other houses of prayer and communities around the world, in the monthly Global Bridegroom Fast. So from now on, rather that encouraging our community to participate in a weekly fasting day, we’re encouraging everyone to join in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast!

Personally, I hate fasting. I can preach a good sermon on why it’s important, and I really do believe it, but in my flesh I can make a thousand excuses to deny myself as little as possible. (“Maybe I just won’t eat meat…between the hours of 12pm and 4pm…”) Having the whole community going hard together, and knowing that it’s only once a month, has so far been very helpful to me. And even though my flesh hates it, every single time I fast, God gives me grace to go without food longer than my metabolism could ordinarily bear.

I find that the hunger pains of fasting serve as a constant reminder to refocus on God. Every time I feel a pinch and fantasize about a big sandwich or plate of pasta, it’s an opportunity to say NO to my flesh and YES to God. It doesn’t earn anything from God, but it positions me to encounter Him because I am forcing myself to be serious about reaching for Him. It trains my flesh in the art of self-denial, which is a necessary discipline in every aspect of Christian life. And somehow, in the economy of the Kingdom, God really does respond to fasting. I can’t fully explain how or why, but He does.

For myself, I have a few rules about fasting:

  1. I must set the parameters of the fast at least the day before. If I try to decide when I wake up how I’m going to fast, my flesh will be way louder than my spirit.
  2. I’m not allowed to alter the parameters in the middle of a fast unless I’m actually close to passing out or throwing up and I feel God giving me permission. Even then, a small snack is enough.
  3. The other exception is if fasting would disrupt an important social event, like the time my mom wanted to celebrate a family birthday on my fasting day and saying no would have been hurtful. Also, when I used to choose my weekly fasting day, I would make sure to schedule it on a day I didn’t expect eating to be a social event (ie, weekly small group).
  4. I do try not to make a big deal of it and carry on my life as usual, but especially since we’re in a community where fasting is normal, talking about it isn’t exactly taboo.
  5. Most importantly, I have to actually spend focussed time in prayer that day.

It’s important to remember that fasting is NOT meant to be a vehicle for condemnation and guilt. Fasting is spiritual violence, and it’s hard, and we all fail from time to time. BUT we find that we’re able to stay steadier the more months and years we make this a lifestyle! When we fail, we immediately sign back up and keep going. Just like one sexual mistake isn’t permission to consider your purity ruined and dive headfirst into more sexual sin, eating during a fast doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person and trying to fast is a waste. Just sign back up and keep going!

Also, it’s helpful to know that although a lifestyle of fasting WILL lead you into more encounter with God than never fasting, there is no timeline or measuring stick for what that looks like. Many people don’t experience anything extraordinary during a fast, but they will right after. Often it’s hard to discern any fruit even after months. My advice is not to evaluate the fruit of fasting for at least a year. Some people say five or ten years. Make it a lifestyle, and eventually, in small ways or big ways, God WILL respond in greater measure than He would have otherwise.

Fasting gets our flesh involved in our spiritual longing for God. It positions us to receive more from Him by clearing out some of the cobwebs in our hearts. By becoming more in tune with our longing for God, we catch a glimpse into His longing for us! Jesus has been waiting 2000 years, or really since the Garden, to come be fully, finally united with us. It’s His great consuming desire. If He carries that ache, then I want to carry it too, and fasting helps me do that.

I invite you to join us in this monthly Global Bridegroom Fast! If you think this sounds like a good idea, set a reminder on your phone right now. You could instead (or also!) choose a weekly personal fasting day. (IHOPKC staff fasts on Tuesdays in addition to the monthly three-day fast.)

As you embark on the adventure of fasting, know that even though your flesh will hate you for it, Jesus is so delighted! He is smiling on us as we choose to seek Him. And He doesn’t stop smiling when we mess up… He LOVES when we keep stumbling toward Him, though we fall a thousand times. So let’s keep stumbling forward in confidence in His love, believing that He is the prize worth any cost.

Happy 2017 from Kansas City!

I’m writing this from Higher Grounds, the coffee shop at IHOPKC. It feels good to visit the place that was home for so long! It’s so much fun to see familiar faces and drive familiar streets… right after I post this I’m going to go spend some time in the prayer room before I go meet up with a few friends today.

On Sunday I recived blessings and prayers from my church, and finished packing my car. That in itself was a miracle. I actually asked on Facebook for prayers for a “bigger on the inside” anointing. I’ve road tripped many times, but this is the first time I’ve actually tried to fit everything I own in one vehicle. It wasn’t easy! As I wrote about a few months ago,  I’ve been working on lessening the amount of stuff I own, and if I hadn’t already done so much minimalising I wouldn’t have been able to see out my car windows at all.

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On Monday, I drove 11 hours to a hotel in Albuquerque, then Tuesday I drove 12 hours to a friend’s apartment next to IHOPKC. I was worried about the roads, but shockingly enough it’s 19 degrees F and not a bit of snow or ice to be found (though I did drive through some flurries in Arizona, ironically). I’ll stay here for 5 days to spend time in the prayer room and celebrate a dear friend’s wedding, then I’ll take a train into Wisconsin to visit another dear friend who recently got married, then I’ll take the train back to KC and drive down to Dallas on January 18. Whew! It’s a lot of travel, but it’s a huge blessing that I’m able to take this time to get refocussed and reenvisioned for the ministry I’m going into, and to spend so much time with good friends with whom I used to do life so closely.

Leaving California and my family definitely provokes a lot of mixed emotions, but mostly I’m just so grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend with the people I love.

I’ve been able to live at home with my family for eight months and spend major family holidays such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with them, plus four family birthdays.

I’ve been able to celebrate four weddings of dear friends this year.

I’ve gotten involved with my new California home church, Church Two42 (including prayer group, Bible study, and the occasional worship team) and have been SO supported and blessed by them as I leave for my Texas adventure. It means the world to me to have a small church love me personally and send me off. I’ll always have a California church home who has my back.

I’ve had the opportunity to teach at a women’s retreat weekend, two Thursday night youth services with Church Two42, and one Sunday morning service at The Refuge Community. (Get the recording of my teaching on my resource page or direct link here!)

I’ve had dozens of coffee meetings with friends sharing about God’s calling into the ministry of 24/7 prayer and worship.

God is indeed good.

I’ll share more as I continue to travel and get settled in Texas, but for now, the 10am intercession set is starting right next door in the prayer room and there’s a grey chair with my name on it.

I Always Took You Where You Needed To Go

As I’m preparing for the next major transition in my life (moving to Dallas!!), I find myself looking back over some of the previous turning points in my life. As I think is common for most people, a number of the things I was expecting to happen… didn’t.

  • I planned to meet my husband at APU… nope.
  • I planned to begin an acting career after I graduated… complete 180.
  • I planned to do OTI summer 2013… plans changed.
  • I planned to stay in CA after OTI… ha.
  • I planned to meet my husband at IHOPU… that didn’t happen either [as far as I know].

That’s the thing about making plans… they don’t always turned out as, well, planned.

Enter this golden Doctor Who quote.

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The woman, Idris, (my car’s namesake) is currently housing the consciousness of the TARDIS– the Doctor’s space ship/time machine. (Yes, the ship has a consciousness… just go with it.) The Doctor takes this unique face-to-face opportunity to accuse her of being unreliable:

The Doctor: “You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.”

Idris: “No, but I always took you where you needed to go.”

In my experience, God is like that too. He most certainly had not always taken me where I wanted to go. If I had been writing my story, quite a few things would have been different.

But if I had chosen my own path ahead of time, I would have missed out on so much that was meant to be part of my journey.

If I had married someone I met at APU, it probably wouldn’t have been someone connected to the prayer movement and I probably wouldn’t have ended up involved with IHOPKC.

If I had gone into the industry as an actor… who knows where my life would have led. Again, probably not to the prayer movement.

If I had done OTI summer 2013 instead of summer 2012, I would have met completely different people and would still be in IHOPU, if I had even decided to stay.

So many times I had my plans and desires all laid out, and God knew what was better. I knew what I wanted, but He knew what I needed.

Jesus is really good and I trust Him. He has never led me astray, and He never will.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

7 Simple Things I Learned At IHOPKC

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Every time I come home from studying at IHOPU in Kansas City, and especially now that I’ve graduated, I am frequently asked about what I’ve learned. I’ve started realising that the question sort of makes me feel a little awkward because I’m not really sure how to answer. On the one hand, my whole life has changed and I know I understand things now that I didn’t before, but on the other hand, they’re really not deep, massive, mystically profound things. Most of them are the same old simple things we’ve always known.

It’s like when you grow up hearing “Jesus loves me” and then one day you find yourself on the floor weeping caught up in the realisation that “JESUS! LOVES!! ME!!!”

I didn’t learn a new gospel. Maybe I just saw the gospel a little bit more clearly.

So here are 7 simple things I learned at IHOPKC:

1. Jesus really likes me.

Not only does Jesus love me because “God is love” and He loves everyone, but He actually enjoys me and my personality. He loves that I’m a sci-fi geek. He loves the way I dance, differently than He loves anyone else’s dance. He enjoys my sense of humour. He gets a kick out of the way I talk to Him! He thinks about me all the time. He enjoys suprising me, making me smile, and providing for me. He wants me to be with Him all the time, and He wants to share the things that are on His heart with me. There are things that He urgently cares about, and He wants me to feel the same way He does, because that’s what friends do.

2. I don’t have to be awesome for God to like me or use me.

(This is kind of an extension of #1, but it’s huge so it gets its own point.) All of the above is still true when I screw up. I may get distracted or stuborn and wander off the path pretty frequently, but I still want to follow Him and I still let Him lead me back every time. That counts. He knows my heart better than I do. To quote Mike Bickle, there’s a difference between weakness and rebellion, and weak love is still real love.

3. The Bible is good stuff.

I mean, duh, but my enjoyment of the Bible grew like crazy when I was eating it up, searching it out, praying it, and singing it in the context of prayer and worship where my only priority was to love Jesus. I fell in love with stories I’d known since kindergarten and passages I could never make sense of in high school. The Bible is fun and super interesting when you read it with the Holy Spirit.

4. Jesus is worthy of everything.

“Worthy” just means “deserving.” Jesus deserves the full love and worship of every person, and He deserves to rule the earth forever. Everything that exists is meant to be in submission to Him– not only because He’s Creator GOD, but He actually deserves it because He is the most kind, humble, just, and wise person to ever exist. He proved it on the cross. We can confidently invite Him to rule this earth and our hearts because we trust that He can do a really, really good job.

5. Worship and intercession are a big deal and they go really well together.

Worship is super important because it’s the 24/7 activity of heaven and God fully deserves it (see #4). Intercession is super important because that’s step 1 in how we partner with God to make the things that He wants to happen happen. Combined, worship and prayer support each other and help our hearts stay connected to what we’re doing– and this effect, like, quintuples when we put the Word smack dab in the middle of everything we pray and sing. Hence, the 24/7 prayer (and worship) room.

6. God really loves Israel, like, a lot.

I’m not even sure what my theology of Israel was before IHOPU. I understood some things and had other things a little mixed up, but I had certainly never wept over Jesus’ heart for His people before. Praying through passages like Zechariah 2 peirced me. Jesus REALLY, REALLY loves and is COMMITTED to the people He originally chose as His bride. He’s really, really faithful–all His promises are yes and amen–and He will fulfill every word He ever spoke.

7. Jesus is coming soon and we are part of the story.

He promised He would come, and by all indications this era of history is nearing a climax. There will be a pretty dramatic series of events leading up to Jesus standing on the earth again, and we’re not supposed to be on the sidelines or swept out of the way. Jesus wants us awake, informed, and involved in what He’s doing. That starts now, because Jesus is looking for a global Church that is fully mature and alligned with Him when He comes. A major way we grow into that is by giving ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer and worship (see #5). Another major way is through evangelism and missions. Jesus said that the gospel will be preached to all nations before the end. There are actually a number of passages that talk about 24/7 prayer and worship arising from all over the earth in the final generation of history… so worship, prayer, and missions together are HUGE elements in the story of Jesus’ return.

 

I would have agreed with these points even before IHOPU, but while I was there, spending hours nearly every day in the prayer room, they were driven much more deeply into my heart. Of course they’re profound truths, and I am so grateful that I now have conviction, passion, and personal heart experience with each of them, but they’re so simple!

I admit, in my first few months I walked around with my head spinning thinking “WHOA, I HAD NO IDEA! THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE HAVE BEEN REVEALED TO ME!”, and yeah, I was studying areas of the Bible I hadn’t before and hearing a wider range of theories on a few details, but by my senior year I realised that none of what I was learning was dramatically new revelation. Mike Bickle isn’t a prophet or a theological pioneer, and IHOPKC reads the same Bible as everyone else. (We just sometimes preach it a little more dramatically!) Besides, at the end of the day, the more intriguing and debatable theories aren’t what I cherish. It’s simple truths like these.

I found that as I gave my time and attention to prayer and worship, simple truths came alive to me. Jesus loves me, He wants me to talk to Him, and He wants me to be part of His story.

IHOPU Graduation: Looking Back on Four Years

(Keep scrolling and then keep scrolling some more, because I’ve got a lot of pictures for you today!)

I’ve finally graduated from college for the second time… but this time feels far more significant than when I got my bachelor’s from APU in 2010. At IHOPU, I have received invaluable teaching and discipleship in an environment saturated with prayer, worship, and the Word. I’ve caught a vision for what God is doing in raising up a global prayer and worship movement in our generation. I’ve gained a family passionately devoted to the fame of Jesus being spread throughout the earth. I’ve been equipped to teach, lead, prophesy, pray, sing, and serve. Most importantly, I’ve encountered a God who is stunningly incredible in every way, who is 100% committed to me and really likes me, and who actually does stuff when I talk to Him.

Last weekend, I walked across a stage with 82 other four-year graduates. My parents flew out from California to see me, and a few local friends came to the ceremony as well.

Graduating from IHOPU feels bittersweet. I did what I set out to do and I know that my season here is done, and I really feel like I got good fellowship and closure in the final days, but I will miss this place and these people greatly.

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

Receiving my diploma from Allen Hood, president of IHOPU

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My parents flew all the way from California to see me!

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Abigail, my roommate and dear friend

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After four years, I finally got to meet and chat with Mike Bickle.

In my small group during my last week, my leaders asked us each to summarise what God was teaching us during that past season. As I think back over the four years I’ve been in IHOPU, I can identify separate banners over each year.

Freshman year: VISION. During my freshman year, I started as an intern in the One Thing Internship. Not only did I grow in prayer and intimacy with Jesus, but the entire rhythm and focus of my life shifted. I blogged about this vision that was growing within me several times (HERE and HERE, for starters), and concluded that season with a conviction that God really is raising up a global movement of 24/7 prayer and worship in our generation, because the darkness is getting darker but the return of Jesus is right around the corner, and He WILL have a bride made ready.

Internship graduation

Internship graduation, freshman year

Sophomore year: GRACE. Now that I had a brand new idea of what my life was supposed to look like, I struggled to live up to it. I really wanted to pursue Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength with undistracted focus, but I was constantly in cycles of condemnation feeling like I was failing. I still don’t know if I’ve found a good balance, but I have a lot more peace now than I did then. I had to keep relearning grace every week.

Small group, sophomore year

Small group, sophomore year

Junior year: HEALING. After experiencing a heartbreak the week before school started, I had to walk through a LOT of healing that year. (Find my blogs reflecting on that season HERE and HERE.) It was a time of shattered emotions and many, many tears, but I encountered the tender heart of the Father who lets me just cry in His lap when I can’t even muster the energy to pray. I learned to love Him more as I fought to trust Him every day. It hurt like hell, but there was such a tender nearness during that time–and there did finally come a progressive breakthrough into freedom and joy. I am wiser, stronger, and more open-hearted because of the events of that year, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

JPR worship team, junior year

JPR worship team, junior year

Senior year: LEADERSHIP. In between my Dallas externship and College Station ministry trip (read about those HERE and HERE), I feel like this year has been about taking ownership of what I’ve learned and stepping up to do something with it. God has grown a lot of confidence in me this year, and I’ve come to realise that even though I have so much more to discover and grow in, I actually have internalised a lot and I have something to offer in ministry. I really can preach and pray and prophesy and lead worship. I really can rally, envision, and organise a team. God called me into this thing, and He’s already given me enough tools to take a few steps and get going.

Dallas externship, senior year

In my final few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the vision God planted in my during my first year. I really do believe it. I believe that God’s deepest desire is a restoration of perfect intimacy with us, and 24/7 prayer and worship that reflects the reality of heaven is a key part of how we’re going to get there. I believe that in this final era of history, God is raising up a new song of night and day worship and intercession for justice from the Church as His lovesick bride in every corner of the earth, and He will use this global worship movement to usher in the return of Jesus and the restoration of creation. It’s a big vision, but I’m fully bought in.

So what’s next? I’ll be home in California for the rest of the year, preparing to launch into full-time ministry at The Prayer Room DFW in January 2017 (read more about that HERE). I plan to be there indefinitely, which doesn’t necessarily mean forever, but no matter what comes next, I know God is writing my story and more importantly, He’s writing me into His story.

Every time I look back and remember how God has led me, I melt in awe and gratitude. He’s been so, so good to me.

Catch me up in Your story
All my life for Your glory
–“All Is For Your Glory” by Lisa Gotshall

I love you, IHOPU!

I love you, IHOPU!

Download: Guest appearance on the UnCommon Christianity show

benotcommon.com

benotcommon.com

Last Tuesday, I was given the opportunity to speak on the UnCommon Christianity internet radio show. This is a weekly two hour program hosted by some old friends of mine, and they’ve discussed all kinds of theological and cultural topics over the years. This week’s topic was spiritual warfare, and I was invited to discuss how prayer and worship relate to spiritual warfare. I’m not normally the go-to person for spiritual warfare, but I certainly have a thing or two to say about prayer!

I spent two hours on the air with them discussing prayer, worship, IHOPKC, the harp and bowl model, and “soaking” worship. We even spent a bit of time discussing some of the most common accusations against IHOPKC. I was really nervous, but Andy, Nathan, and Kim made me feel so at home on the air and I really enjoyed sharing my heart and my experiences with them.

The two-hour broadcast (my favourite part is in the first hour) is available for streaming or download on the show’s website at the link below.

listen UCC 2

Click here to listen or download!

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