Profiles on the Right: Mike Bickle, Founder of the International House of Prayer

About Rachel Tabachnick

Mike Bickle

Mike Bickle is the founder and director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and one of the pioneers of the apostolic and prophetic movement (also known as the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR).  IHOP, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is a model for youth-oriented prayer ministries around the world and shares board members and tax affiliation with Lou Engle’s TheCall.

Bickle and the Prophets 

Bickle is a Charismatic evangelist who led the Kansas City Fellowship in the 1980s and 1990s and was at the center of a group often referred to as the “Kansas City Prophets.”  The group, including Bob Jones (not affiliated with Bob Jones University), Paul Cain, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, and others, claimed to be the part of God’s plan for the reemergence of the role of apostles and prophets. Bickle and the church were the subject of controversy in the early 1990s following the distribution of a report by another Charismatic pastor titled “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teaching of the Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries).”  The controversy died down after the leader of the Vineyard Movement of churches, John Wimber, agreed to take the church into his network.

The IHOP Vision 

Bickle and Bob Jones claim they had received visions and prophecies that Bickle would lead an international movement— a “young adult prayer movement led by prophetic singers and musicians”—and in 1999 founded the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  Bickle teaches that today’s youth are the “eschatological generation” who will experience the End Times, and that they must prepare for the coming “Antichrist.”  Like Engle, Bickle teaches his youth followers that they must prepare to be martyrs.  Bickle stated in 2009, “It will be your greatest honor if the Lord chooses you to be a martyr.”

Bickle’s IHOP has spawned an international movement of “houses of prayer” that feature ongoing prayer around the clock.  The organization provides training materials from its Kansas City headquarters and is live streamed to 24/7 houses of prayer around the world. There are approximately 500 similar houses of prayer based on this model in the U.S. and more worldwide.  IHOP also trains students at its Kansas City campus in media, music and in preparation for missionary work, like that seen in the movie God Loves Uganda.  Bickle and his fellow apostles and prophets are fixated on the role of Jews in the End Times, and lead a project titled the “Israel Mandate” to support Messianic communities and the conversion of Jews around the world in order to advance the return of Jesus.  Bickle claims biblical prophecy indicates there will be another era of concentration camps for Jews before Jesus returns.

Mike Bickle and Lou Engle lead TheCall Jerusalem, held simultaneously in 2008 with the Global Day of Prayer.

Pioneer of the Apostolic and Prophetic (NAR)

Bickle was one of the co-authors of a 2000 book on integrating the new role of “prophets” into churches and ministries, edited and published by C. Peter Wagner, titled Pastors & Prophets: Protocol for Healthy Churches. He was also one of the speakers for the Wagner-initiated “National School of the Prophets” in 1999 which was advertised as “Prophets help[ing] to prepare the way for the apostles to establish the Lord’s church,” and included leading NAR apostles Chuck Pierce, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Rick Joyner and Barbara Wentroble.

Bickle was also one of the initial members of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders formed by Wagner as he developed a model for New Apostolic networks and ministries designed to replace the traditional denominational structure.

Politics and Religion

Bickle’s IHOP has the stated mission of influencing “the seven spheres of society -family, education, government, economy, arts, media, and religion.” IHOP prayer leaders and musicians led Gov. Rick Perry’s all-day prayer event in Houston in 2011, a week before Perry announced his presidential campaign.  Bickle himself led much of the event, which used New Apostolic language and imagery to call for the country to repent for abortion and gay rights (referred to as sexual immorality) and for the conversion of Jews.  IHOP puts a trendy and youthful gloss on a movement that is fiercely opposed to reproductive and LGBTQ rights, and has played a role in TheCall events held around the nation.  The Desert Streams ministry of Andy Comiskey, former head of Exodus International, was temporary housed under the umbrella of Bickle’s ministries after leaving the Vineyard network Next Profile arrowand continues to work closely with IHOP.  One of many IHOP tax affiliated entities is Exodus Cry/Nefarious, a ministry dedicated to ending sex trafficking, whose leadership teaches that conversion of prostitutes is a priority and that it is necessary to expel demons from prostitutes.

Mike Bickle leads Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer event in Houston in 2011.

Rachel Tabachnick (PRA associate fellow) researches, writes, and speaks about the impact of the Religious Right on policy and politics including civil rights, education, economics, environment, foreign policy, and labor. She produces presentations and speaks on conservative infrastructure and the intersection of the Religious Right and other sectors of the Right, including “free market” think tanks. Rachel has been interviewed on NPR and other radio and print media across the nation on topics including the New Apostolic Reformation, Christian Zionism, and education privatization. Follow her on Twitter at @RTabachnick.