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10

Healing Through Worship

Healing Through Worship

Psalms 27:8(NLT) - My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."

John 4:21-24(NKJV) - Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Are you a true worshiper? I sincerely hope so. Do you worship God as The Holy Spirit leads you and does it come from a sincere heart? That's what God is looking for. Welcome to today's blog. Coincidentally, this month we're in the middle of a sermon series on Worship at The Body Church. Sunday, September 7th was the third session of the series. If you've never watched any of our message videos, let this series be your first one. It's worth it. If you want to stay abreast of our video releases or just want to catch up on the rest of the teachings you can check the church website. Anyway, it was also refreshing to sit at the feet of the young people at International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Atlanta over the weekend as they shared what God has released to them about worship. Anyway, on with today's blog.

1 Samuel 16:13-18,23(NKJV) - Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him. And Saul's servants said to him, "Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well." So Saul said to his servants, "Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me." Then one of the servants answered and said, "Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him."... And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.

Pay very close attention to the start of this passage. The Spirit of The Lord came upon David but left Saul. As a result, the enemy was able to swoop in and torment Saul. There's something my father said a long time ago that has never left me. The worst place you ever want to be is the place where God was. Why? Once God's presence leaves, guess who comes right after? Think about it. You always want to be where God is. Like with The Children of Israel, when the pillar of cloud moves by day or the pillar of fire by night to indicate a move of God's presence, you need to move with it.

Nonetheless, the basis for this scripture is the Spirit of The Lord. He was upon David and that was clear to one of Saul's servants who said that The Lord was with David. This entire passage highlights the power of worship to bring healing. When Saul was tormented by the devil, his servants automatically understood that the only solution for his problem was to get someone to release healing through music. How did they know that? Obviously, they had seen it happen before or it was common knowledge. However, they did not need just anybody but they needed someone who had The Anointing or Presence of God because they were dealing with an evil spirit.

Isaiah 10:27(KJV) - And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

Here's what I just realized; the only reason why David's music was able to deliver Saul from the devil was because David was anointed. God does not anoint music but He anoints people so when an anointed musician plays music the music becomes anointed. As a result, without even saying a word of prophecy to Saul, David's music spoke to the spirit attacking Saul and told it to go away. Think about that. David prophesied through his worship. If you read through the Book of Psalms you will be able to visualize the kind of music David was able to produce during his private time of worship while playing his harp before The Lord.

When people are anointed by God, whatever they say, write, sing, play, draw, dance, mime or act out in worship to God will also be anointed. That's why you can't expect to mimic what someone else does and see the same results. The Anointing does not exist in a vacuum and will not work for you unless you are also anointed just like the person who created the original. David used his anointing to worship God with original music while watching his father's sheep. It was that same healing sound which Saul's servant heard sometime before Saul needed deliverance. As a result, David's ministry to Saul was really just a fringe benefit of David's worship to God. The same anointing that healed David's heart many times in his secret place was able to heal Saul in the king's palace.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

The power in anointed words don't exist in the words but in the person who is speaking, singing, writing or delivering the words. That's why the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees could recite the law but there was no power in their words. In Matthew 15:6, Jesus said that they killed the power of God's Word with their tradition. Additionally, the power of anointed music doesn't lie in the music itself but in the person who's playing it. Therefore, when someone with an anointing starts to worship in any way possible, expect the power of God to be released and if healing is what you need, open your heart for God to heal you.

Music is just one avenue of worship that releases healing. Have you ever seen someone dance and release the power of God? I have. How is that even possible? Is it the actual dance? Nope! Sometimes, the dance itself is not really that impressive. If it was a dancing competition that person would lose but when the person is dancing under an anointing of God, a wave of His power is released. Sometimes, you might just be enjoying the dance when BOOM! God's power hits you and you are enveloped with God's presence. That's what happens when a true worshiper is behind the dance. I have heard songs that released the power of God and the person wasn't the best singer. I have heard someone preach and in the middle of the message I have broken down in tears as the Spirit of God overwhelmed me. What's the secret? The Anointing; the tangible presence of God resting upon a person.

Luke 7:36-48(NKJV) - Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying,"This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." 41 "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

Picture this. A broken woman with a heart heavy with guilt got the chance of a lifetime to meet Jesus. Her life was rife with sin and people knew it. She needed healing for her heart and can't you see how she got her healing? She brought her oil, poured in on the feet of Jesus and wiped it with her hair. She cried her heart out and didn't say a word. She worshiped and worshiped and worshiped with all she had within her and Jesus heard her heart. She walked in the room a sinner and walked out completely forgiven because Jesus received authentic worship. No, she was not perfect. No, she was not clean. No, she was not pure. However, that's not what Jesus wanted. He had the power to make her perfect, clean and pure so she was welcome to come before Him just the way she was.

Think about that. After your biggest screw up, what do you think would happen if you run into God's presence and worship Him with everything you have? Do you think He would push you away because your heart is dirty? Is that what He did with that woman in the Pharisee's house? No, He did not. Everyone else wanted her gone but God welcomed her worship. God makes you pure. If your worship is authentic, even if you're a dirty vessel, give Him what you have and ask Him to clean you. He doesn't only accept worship from clean vessels, He accepts worship from willing vessels.

Many people backslide because they feel unclean and don't believe they can worship God after something they did wrong. In addition, many people are afraid of what others would think if they return to church after the sins they've committed. Listen, if your heart is messed up and you need healing, don't run from God's presence thinking He'll reject you, run into His presence and worship like you never have before. Fall at His feet, cry, pour your heart out, break open your heart like an alabaster box and empty the contents out before Him.

You may have walked into the room feeling dirty and guilty but you will walk out clean and forgiven. Forget about the people who are looking at you. People looked at the woman when she worshiped Jesus but she didn't have any pride because she was desperate for the Love of Jesus. She didn't care who was looking, like her alabaster box, she was broken and only Jesus could heal her. How desperate are you? How much do you want your healing? There is healing in your worship. Listen to this.....

3

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

We received the following question from "Simon" (fake name for obvious reasons);

"I have a question, why do people think that IHOP-KC and all other prayer rooms are cults? I live in Atlanta and I go to Atlanta House of Prayer from time to time when I'm not working. I go on my own will, don't know many people there, I just like spending time in God's presence, reading His word and praying. When I go I do end up staying for like 8-11 hours. I don't really notice the time because I get lost in Him. Now my dad and my brother think I'm following a cult because of what they read on the Internet. What's your view point? I respect you as a man of God to kind of help me out on this."

Great question, "Simon". I pray that The Lord's heart is very clear in our response. Today's answer will be structured in such a way that there will be no confusion. We will first establish a few important general points, connect them to this specific situation then come to a definite conclusion. You already know the truth so this is more for the other people who are reading this blog today. I'm taking this opportunity to deal with an issue that is only going to increase as time progresses. Let's get started.

For those who don't know, when we speak of IHOP we are referring to International House of Prayer and IHOP-KC is the headquarters in Kansas City. They are modern pioneers of the prayer movement which is basically built around 24/7 prayer and worship. They operate in shifts and run all day, every day, until Jesus returns. There are other prayer ministries around the world who have adopted a similar model of nonstop prayer and worship. That's some general background information for those who have no idea what "Simon" is referring to. Let's move on.

What's the secular definition of a cult?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in this context a cult is defined as, "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents." Another related definition is, "great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad, the object of such devotion or a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion."

These definitions are very subjective yet they probably guide how most people outside of The Body of Christ identify cults. They have no spiritual understanding so if they deem a religion to be outside of the norm, in their eyes it's a cult. For example, when The Church first started they were severely persecuted because they were followers of Jesus. Judaism was the established religious order among the Jews at the time so Christians were outside of the norm. That's why they were first called Christians (little Christs) at Antioch in Acts 11:26. It probably wasn't a compliment.

In the same way, The Protestant Church in England was severely persecuted because they did not fit into the Orthodox Church. That contributed to many of them leaving and establishing the United States of America. Many years later, we celebrate their journey for freedom. Therefore, in the past, people have loosely interpreted the definition of a cult and were completely wrong about it.

On the flip side, people did get it right when they identified people like Jim Jones, David Koresh and Charles Manson as cult leaders. The first two led groups of people to commit suicide and the last one led his followers to kill other people. These are easy to identify especially in hindsight which as we should already know is 20-20. I doubt there are many who would disagree with that position, except of course, those followers who swore by their leaders. Now let me lay the truth out before you as it's written in The Bible so you have a measuring stick that can be used by anyone to identify a cult.

How do you identify a cult according to The Bible?

Ask Donnell: Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer rooms cults?

1) They create their own doctrines.

Proverbs 30:5-6(NKJV) - Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19(NKJV) - For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Galatians 1:6-9(NKJV) - I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

The Bible is the source of our doctrine. There is more than enough truth within it to guide our lives. We do not need anyone to create alternative scriptures for our use. Within our lifetimes we will never exhaust the wisdom available in The Bible. Any doctrine that's not already in The Bible is false doctrine. In the extreme case, some religious groups take the liberty to create their own scriptures and exalt them to the same level or higher than The Bible. That's a red flag. If you add to God's words, He will rebuke you and you will be found a liar.

This can also be very subtle. Some religious groups have chosen to remove and add specific scriptures to their versions of "The Bible" as they see fit. That's also a huge red flag. We don't get to add to God's words. Pay special attention to their eschatology (doctrine of the end-times or Bible prophecy). Cults like to make stuff up which explains why they get people to commit suicide or meet on mountain tops waiting for space ships, etc. Therefore, when you're in a group that takes liberty in creating its own doctrine apart from The Bible you should look around for the exit sign and use it. At the very least, pay close attention if you hear someone say, "I know The Bible says ... but I say ..."

2 Peter 2:1(NKJV) - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Revelation 2:14-15(NKJV) - But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Always pay attention to doctrine. Cults have come up with some strange doctrines over the years. Some of them have even slipped into The Church. Be very careful.

2) They misinterpret scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17(KJV) - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Peter 1:19-21(NKJV) - And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:1(KJV) - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

This is usually where it starts. All scripture should fit into one or more of the four following categories; doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. A cult leader takes a scripture completely out of context and creates something dangerous. In the cult, they come up with their own private interpretation and claim to have exclusive access to the mind of God. That can't be right. If you're the only person on earth with a specific interpretation of scripture you're probably wrong. Even if you receive a revelation from God, you will never be the only one.

The same Holy Spirit lives inside of every Christian so someone else somewhere else got the same revelation. This is why I will now introduce to you the "two or three" principle. In the mouth of "two or three" witnesses shall every word be established. It's a very simple test for all doctrine. If you cannot find one or two other distinct scriptures in The Bible to clearly support an interpretation of a scripture it should be put aside. It's either a misinterpretation or not clearly understood enough to be used for teaching. This is also why every church leader should be accountable to someone else. That would provide another witness to establish his teaching.

3) They build a following for themselves and not Christ.

Acts 20:29-31(NLT) - I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.

1 Corinthians 3:1-7(NKJV) - And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

When people start purposefully drawing attention away from Christ and on to themselves you could be looking at the beginning stages of a cult. The Church is about Jesus Christ who is the foundation upon which it is built (1 Corinthians 3:11). Any "church" that portrays itself as Christian but is not about Jesus is not part of "The Church." Therefore, even if it masquerades as part of The Body of Christ, it doesn't fit with the rest of The Body.

Be very careful when all of the focus is placed on a man and his name is not Jesus. Apostle Paul warned The Church in Acts 20 of vicious wolves who would distort the truth for the express purpose of drawing a following. Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1(KJV); "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." If the leader is not clearly and purposefully pointing you to Christ you should never follow that leader.

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

4) They operate by a spirit other than The Holy Spirit.

1 John 4:1-3(NLT) - Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

Romans 8:9-11, 16(KJV) - But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.... The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

This is where you have to dig a little deeper. When you walk into the room what's the prevailing spirit in the room? Is it The Holy Spirit? Does The Spirit bear witness with your spirit? Since The Holy Spirit lives inside of you, He will confirm on the inside whether or not He is in the room. If you've ever spent time in God's presence you would know what it feels like so you would be able to recognize Him anywhere.

People who are leading cults may act overly spiritual in an effort to compensate for their lack of real anointing. In extreme cases they may tap into the power of evil spirits which will completely oppose The Holy Spirit inside of you. You will never be comfortable in that kind of atmosphere. Don't ignore the lack of peace you feel in a situation like that. If The Holy Spirit is satisfied with the situation He will give you peace. As stated in Colossians 3:15 (AMP), let peace act as an umpire to help you settle the questions in your heart. Peace means all is well, no peace means all is not well.

5) Their aim is to control people and put them in bondage often by the use of fear.

Romans 8:15(KJV) - For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Love is the glue that keeps The Body of Christ together (Ephesians 4:16). If fear is being used to keep a group together it could easily be a cult. Scare tactics will keep people in bondage but love will set them free.

Galatians 3:1-3(NLT) - Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

1 Timothy 4:1-3(NLT) - Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.

Demons supply doctrines which put people in bondage instead of setting them free. Take a look at the examples given by Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. These are just a few of the arbitrary rules people make up to put others in bondage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:17; "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." It also says in John 8:36; "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Wherever, the prevailing spirit creates bondage instead of freedom it's time to get out of there because God is not at the center of those proceedings.

6) They thrive on deception.

Ephesians 4:11-14(NKJV) - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

2 John 1:7-11(NLT) - I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

Revelation 2:2(NKJV) - “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;

John 1 explains how Jesus is the Word made flesh which also makes Him God. Anyone anywhere who questions that Jesus was fully God and fully man is fueled by the spirit of the antichrist. Deception is an easy identifying marker of a cult. When you're dealing with a liar all lies are progressive. What does that mean? No lie exists as an entity of its own. If you realize that you are being lied to about something you're probably being lied to about something else and can rest assured that you will receive even more lies in the future. At the first sign of a lie, zero in on the exit sign. The first time it's their fault. The second time it's yours.

7) They operate in isolation.

1 Corinthians 12:12-20(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

Ephesians 4:15-16(NLT) - Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

When a group of people separate themselves from the rest of The Body of Christ and try to operate in isolation they are at risk of becoming a cult. The Church is designed to thrive through it's connectivity. The more a group of "Christians" isolate themselves from other Christians the higher the probability that they will end up in deception. If any body part disconnects itself from the rest of the body it will die.

No part of The Church is designed to operate exclusively on its own. Cults thrive in seclusion so watch out for that. They even try to separate people from their friends and family. Any real ministry will be connected to other ministries and will place a high value on relationships both within and outside the ministry. Cults like to be exclusive and sometimes even secretive. They pit people against others instead of promoting the Love of God.

Now we can answer the question clearly. Is International House Of Prayer a cult?

Ask Donnell - Are IHOP and other 24/7 prayer ministries cults?

Let's start with the statement of faith on their website. I just went through it along with their list of Affirmations and Denials. Their explanations are very thorough and bring clarity to what people think they believe. Let me highlight just the top three from their statement of faith and that would help us understand what they believe.

We believe that only the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired and, therefore, inerrant Word of God. The Bible is the final authority for all we believe and for how we are to live. (Mt. 5:18; Jn. 10:35; 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:20–21)

We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man; that He was conceived and born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and offered Himself as a penal, substitutionary sacrifice for sinners. By His blood shed at the cross, He obtained for us eternal redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting. He was raised bodily on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father, there to make intercession for the saints forever. (Mt. 1:18–25; Jn. 1:1–18; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:1–28; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:10–14; Eph. 1:7; Phil. 2:6–11; Col. 1:15–23; Heb. 7:25; 9:13–15; 10:19; 1 Pet. 2:21–25; 1 Jn. 2:1–2)

We believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. No ordinance, ritual, work, or any other activity on the part of man is required or accepted in order to be saved. This saving grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, also sanctifies us by enabling us to do what is pleasing in God’s sight in order that we might be progressively conformed to the image of Christ. (Jn. 1:12–13; 6:37–44; 10:25–30; Acts 16:30–31; Rom. 3:1–4:2; 8:1–17, 31–39; 10:8–10; Eph. 2:8–10; Phil. 2:12–13; Titus 3:3–7; 1 Jn. 1:7, 9)

Source: http://www.ihopkc.org/about/statement-of-faith/

Did you see the first statement? The 66 inspired books of The Bible are their final authority. Love it! That's the antithesis of a cult. They do not create their own doctrine! That eliminates #1 from our list.

Do they misinterpret scripture? This is where personal experience comes in. Even though I've never been to IHOP-KC, they put their teachings on The Internet. For a season of my life, a few years ago I subscribed to the podcasts of their weekend services so I kept up to date with what they were teaching on a weekly basis. What I heard was sound Biblical teaching. Also, I've been to IHOP-Atlanta several times. I was a student in their end-times seminar several years ago. I learned so much. I was able to question the instructor and he proved to me the truth through scripture. I was so inspired that I studied The Book of Revelation for myself and wrote Revelation Unplugged soon after.

Do they build a following for a man and not Jesus Christ? I listened to the live stream of their prayer room daily for a season of my life and it was all about Jesus. They prayed, they sang, they prayed, they sang and not once did they even mention anybody's name from their organization. Their eyes were on Jesus. In fact, I probably have never encountered a ministry as "Jesus focused" as IHOP. They call themselves "Forerunners" just like John The Baptist whose express purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. As John said in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

What's the prevailing spirit at IHOP? I can assure you that I always feel The Spirit of God when I tune into the live stream of worship in the IHOP-KC prayer room. However, I've sat before The Lord in the IHOP-Atlanta prayer room and The Holy Spirit was in the place. So much so, that after struggling for months to get an answer from The Lord about the ministry a few years ago I went into the prayer room. Within an hour in that atmosphere I heard God's voice loud and clear.

Do they control people and put them in bondage? Well, I can tell you about IHOP-Atlanta. I personally know someone who moved from another state to IHOP-Atlanta where she sat before The Lord for an entire year as a full-time missionary. She went in there desperate for a breakthrough in her personal life and walked out totally delivered and free. Yes, their standard of holiness and consecration was very high but it helped her. She met God face to face and her life was changed forever. She still testifies today about what The Lord did for her at IHOP.

Do they thrive on deception? When it comes to the truth about Jesus Christ that would be no. As you should see in the statement of faith I quoted earlier they don't play games with that. Do they operate in isolation? Not based on what I've witnessed. I've seen them associate with other ministries before.

So why do people think they are a cult? Many people get their information from random sites on the Internet. Instead of going to the source, they let other people's commentaries skew their perspective. Additionally, just being a 24/7 prayer ministry is not a bad thing. You can never pray or worship God too much so you can't go wrong if that's where your heart really is. We, at The Cracked Door believe in what they're doing at International House Of Prayer and have financially supported missionaries in their Atlanta prayer room and will continue to do so.

In sum, it pays to be objective in situations like these. You don't want to operate based on only feelings. There's no way to feel whether or not you're dealing with a cult. What does The Bible say? How does what you see in the organization line up with what you see in the scripture? The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15; "but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." If you're in The Church you should be a pillar and ground of truth. Anyone who places little priority in the truth is not a part of The Church.

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