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Visiting the International House of Prayer in Kansas City

by davesandel on November 8th, 2021

Monday, November 8, 2021            (today’s lectionary)

Visiting the International House of Prayer in Kansas City

Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart.

After their trip to Kansas City and a “summit” sponsored by the International House of Prayer (another kind of IHOP), Andi and Aki are on fire. Their time in worship there was unlike either of them has experienced before.

Imagine music flowing 24 hours a day, an endless adoration which has not ended since 1999.  The musicians pick up on verbal prayers from the congregation, a sentence here, a word there. They begin to repeat what they hear, and add music, so that gradually a new song, one song after another, rises up to heaven. This is a sweet and savory charisma, intoxicating incense for the people, who are just regular folks from Idaho or Texas or Illinois or Anywhere Else in the Whole Wide World. What they have in common is that they all love God.

You have searched me, O Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I stand, you perceive my thoughts from afar. Before a word is on my tongue, you, O Lord, know it completely. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

And God loves them. They might be evangelicals or Catholics, Lutherans or Baptists, or maybe they aren’t Christian at all. Aki called this “a contemplative kind of worship.” Lots of Buddhists and Hindu folks practice contemplation. I don’t think Jesus would have any problem with wandering minstrels or ministers, who maybe don’t understand the Holy Trinity or agree with that theology, wandering on in, settling down to be still and falling into worship, knowing that God is near.

Our friend from Vineyard, John Chisholm, is executive director of IHOP. He’s been in Kansas City twenty years or more. Somehow his presence there authenticates it all, but I know that’s silly. It’s the Holy Spirit who authenticates and puts her imprimatur on the place.

The holy Spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels. The Spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what man says.

Taking their cue from the ancient Hebrews and later the Moravians of the 1700s, as well as other groups, the folks at IHOP have established  two hour worship or intercession times around the clock every day. “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out” (Leviticus 6:13). Their prayers, desires, and missions cover the globe, but everything else that IHOP does rests on this foundation of unceasing prayer. And of course, God hears.

God is the witness of his own inmost self and the sure observer of his heart, and the listener to his own tongue. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. You see what I can’t see, and you see like that for all of us. We are mere humans, struggling with our aching bodies, with our anxious minds, with our confused relationships in every corner of the earth. Our idols, mostly money and control, keep lifting up their dead heads, calling to us as if they had power. Show us how to live and love and pray always. Jesus wishes the best for us, but he knows how we can lose our temper and lose our way, then blame someone else and fall deeply into guilt. No. That is not the way.

Woe to the one who causes one of these little ones to sin. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.

Let us too, with our Kansas City friends, pray the prayer of faith, that ceaseless prayer always and even in the dead of night, remembering the presence of God.

Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

(Wisdom 1, Psalm 139, Philippians 2, Luke 17) 

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