“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.

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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

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!

The Parable of the Girl and the King

Nearly four years ago, during my first few months at IHOPKC, God was taking me on a journey of looking at the story of my life through His eyes. I began to see how faithful and gentle He had been in bringing me to Himself, even though I grew up in the church. One Wednesday night in the prayer room, on August 12, 2012, I wrote a little parable of my story. I was reminded again of it tonight, and decided to share it with you.
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Once there was a young girl who lived in the kingdom of a great King. From her infancy she grew up knowing of the King and hearing his power and goodness praised. When she was only three years old she decided to become a citizen of his kingdom, for this was a great privilege available to anyone, young or old, from any way of life, who would choose to live under the rulership of the King. For the King had paid a great price for anyone to receive citizenship freely, and from a young age the girl accepted this gift gladly.

As she grew, though, daily surrounded by reminders of the King’s rule, the girl’s heart began to grow distant. She was still young and glad of her citizenship, but she began to resent the constant symbols of the kingdom. She began to wish she could taste life in the exotic lands outside the kingdom. For all the world she still looked and acted like a citizen, but she knew that her heart did not rejoice in it. She continued on, though, because she knew it was right, and besides, it was the only way she knew.

Still, she always knew that the King was good, and as she watched others celebrating him and their citizenship in his kingdom, she wished for that same joy. She didn’t know how to get it, so she occasionally petitioned the King for such understanding and joy in her most secret moments, but continued to live as though she wished she could escape. The girl was very confused, frustrated, and lonely.

The King heard her petition, and because of his goodness, began to answer it, as though he had only been waiting to be asked. He assigned her to a local community that knew and loved him well, and with them as her guides, she began to know him better too. Bit by bit, the King slowly began to show her what being a citizen meant. The girl discovered that the King heard every petition and always gave an answer. She discovered that the King wanted her not only to be a citizen who would obey his laws and enjoy his blessings, but to be his friend.

So, very slowly, the girl who had always known and respected the King grew to know and love him as a friend. She would occasionally drop by his palace and have talks with him—often with her friends, but also sometimes alone. They were awkward conversations at first, but they gradually grew more natural and trusting. The King decided to show the girl what kind of friend he could be, so he invited her on trips to distant cities. The girl loved these trips, and they would spend entire weeks constantly in each other’s company. The girl learned how the King ruled his kingdom, and he let her help him bring justice and mercy to those who needed him. The girl was delighted to have a friend as good and powerful as this King.

But after every trip, the closeness they had built would eventually fade away. The girl was at first very excited to visit the King every day to talk, but then she came every other day, and then only once a week. She still loved and missed him, but she didn’t know how to maintain a friendship without the excitement of the trips. The King missed the girl as well, and he decided it was time to show her something new.

So over many days, the King began to tell the girl a story. It began as an epic story in three parts, but he was always adding new bits to it, and every other story he told always ended up being part of the same story. The story told of a mighty warrior in a coloured forest who was tenderly pursuing a maiden who didn’t want him. He fiercely wooed her and lavished love on her, even to the point of laying down his life to rescue her, until she finally yielded to him and he claimed her as his bride for all eternity.

The girl was moved to tears by the story, and even more so when the King knelt before her and confessed that the story was about him. He told her that he didn’t only want her as a citizen, or a friend, or even a daughter. He wanted her to be his bride.

The girl couldn’t believe it. This great King, so powerful and kind and beautiful, wanted her to be his bride? She who had pushed him away for so long and still barely knew how to love him?

But it was true, and the girl watched through tears as the kneeling King slipped a gold ring on her finger and tenderly kissed her hand. In that moment, the girl’s love began to blossom in earnest, and she realised that nothing she had ever wanted compared to this King, this man, who held such power in every flash of his eyes and every passion of his heart. He had chosen her and she had chosen him, and she vowed to live the rest of her life letting him love her and learning to love him as he deserved.

Their engagement was very long, because the King could not marry until his rule over the land was made complete. So through the long days of waiting the King continued wooing her heart and she fell more in love with the man she realised she barely knew. He took her on many more adventures, and each one revealed more of who he was and who he had chosen her to be. And with every revelation the girl loved him more.

Blog Remodel!

Hello, friends! This is just an update to draw your attention to certain new features on my blog.

The new Partner With Me page at the top provides details on why you should prayerfully consider partnering with me financially and how you can do so.

The new IHOPKC FAQ page at the top answers the most common questions I’ve gotten about IHOP. The individual IHOPU and OTI FAQs that used to be at the top are now housed underneath the IHOPKC FAQ. This just makes everything more streamlined and allows me to provide more information while being less overwhelming. Everybody wins!

Most excitingly, the brand new My Story page at the top contains my life testimony. I’ve shared pieces of this before, but this is the first time I’ve ever made the whole thing public. I hope it blesses you.

Grace and peace,

Caitlyn

God The Artist

Hello, all! It’s been far too long since my last post, I know, I apologise… I’m officially 13 days away from the end of the internship, which is very bittersweet, but I’m determined to make the most of these last few weeks.

I had an opportunity last week to share a teaching with my core group. I prepared notes and talked on who God is as the original and ultimate Artist, how all art flows out of his Beauty, and how we are created to create. It’s somewhat an expansion of a blog I wrote several years ago, but goes much deeper into the theology with much more biblical support. I got sooo into it, and I believe it was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time. Teaching is definitely something I want to do much more of in the future. 🙂 I have the notes available for download for anyone who’s interested.

Quickie version:

1) God is beautiful.

2) God creates beautiful things.

3) We are created to create.

BAM.

As always at IHOP, our copyright is the “right to copy” when it comes to teaching material, so feel free to take this and run with it in any way you like. 🙂

God the Artist teaching notes

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