Excellent article written by Tricia Tillin! You can read a portion of her article here and follow the link at the bottom to read the remainder.
The “Harp and Bowl” 24-Hour Prayer Initiative
and the ‘Restoration of the Tabernacle of David’
by Tricia Tillin
“Mike Bickle, founder of Metro Christian Fellowship of Kansas City, is co-director of the International House of Prayer, ministry director of ‘Friends of the Bridegroom’ and vice-president of Grace Training Center, a full time Bible School in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Mike is the author of several books, Passion For Jesus, Growing In The Prophetic, The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God and The Pleasures of Loving God.
Mike’s teaching emphasis is in the area of developing passion for Jesus through the knowledge of the beauty of God. He especially focuses on the Bride of Christ, and the message of the forerunner ministry in context to a fasted life-style that proclaims Jesus as Bridegroom, King and Judge. He has a deep conviction of a victorious end time church. Mike’s prayer goal is to see a 24-hour a day city-wide house of prayer in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David in every city of the earth before the Lord’s return.” (From “Tabernacle of David” website)
Way back in what seems another life, I researched the Kansas City Prophets phenomenon. That was, in its time, as gripping a tale as the Toronto Blessing and contained much the same material – manifestations, false prophecies and dominion doctrine.
Now some of the central figures involved in that discredited resurgence of the Latter Rain Movement are coming to public notice again for their Harp and Bowl initiative of round-the-clock prayer.
In order to understand the continuity of belief, we have to refer back to the earlier events. For any of you who missed the excitement here’s a brief overview of KCP (Kansas City Prophets).
A group of prophets were gathered together at Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) – now called Metro Christian Fellowship – a church founded on a supposed prophecy received by its pastor, Mike Bickle. Bickle heard the “voice of God” through a young prophet and later in Cairo, Egypt in 1982 predicting that he would be used to raise up a mighty work in the earth. Later he was told that this work would be based in Kansas City.
The next year, 1983, Mike Bickle was introduced to Bob Jones, a man in his late 50’s at that time who seemed to confirm the vision for a major worldwide move of God based in Kansas City. Bob Jones was a man who had visions of angels, heard voices, claimed to meet and talk with God almost every night, had out of the body experiences frequently and had hands that turned purple in the presence of sin.
The strange visions and statements of Bob Jones have been documented by a number of researchers and that work is too lengthy to reproduce here. However, his doctrines are peppered with MSOG/Latter-Rain teachings such as the One New Man, the Corporate Christ, Joel’s Army and the restoration of the Melchizadek Priesthood.
On the latter subject he said:
“first he will bring the Five[Fold Ministries]..but there is a ministry after the fivefold called the ministry of PERFECTION, the Melchizadek priesthood. You that are children will be moving into the ministries of perfection…coming into the divine nature of Christ…not having to come out of the wilderness, but being birthed NATURAL into the Spirit, all their days moving in the Spirit. You are into the warfare, start to take the Promised Land…” (my emphasis, “Visions and Revelations” audio tape Mike Bickle/Bob Jones, Autumn 1989 KCMO)
Another practice of Bob Jones that had received a lot of attention and condemnation from various quarters is his “Shepherd’s Rod”. Every year on the Day of Atonement “God” visits Bob Jones in person, and gives him a kind of prophetic “Old Moore’s Almanac” for the year ahead. In the early days, Jones taught that all the members of the church had to pass under this Rod and even said that those who were found unworthy would die. Others would be marked as especially worthy: “And if you be found alright, He marks you to be sacrificed as a living holy sacrifice unto Him. One out of ten is marked as totally unto the Lord. That’s a Shepherd’s rod”. Bob Jones still produces these yearly prophecies. You can see them here on Bob Jones’s website.
In 1986, Bickle and the other leaders formed a ministry called Grace Ministries “committed to seeing the church restored to the glory described in God’s word – this team is composed of mature and proven men with apostolic and prophetic ministries…”
The vision of Grace Ministries and the Kansas City Fellowship was for creating apostolic teams to plant churches, setting up cell churches, forming the city church (one church per city overseen by an apostle) sending out the Joseph Company (sonship terminology for overcomers who prepare the way for the transformation) and creating Shiloh Ministries (a prophetic school), and the House of Prayer – 24-hour intercessory prayer.
The vision for the Harp and Bowl had already been given, in this climate of false prophecy and Latter Rain teaching, and CAME DIRECTLY OUT OF IT.
The official literature for the Harp and Bowl links the vision for it as being given at the same time that Bob Jones arrived at Bickle’s church as the initial prophecy given to Mike Bickle for the “great move of God”:
“In May 1983, [when Bickle met Bob Jones] the Lord gave a promise to the church at Metro Christian Fellowship that He would release in the midst of their city, a 24-hour a day, citywide ministry to the Lord in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David (Acts 15:14-18). This prayer ministry now includes continuous worship, intercession and warfare.”
Another account (found here) credits the birth of Harp and Bowl to Paul Cain in 1996, but speaks of the vision for it being given in 1982, at the founding of Mike Bickle’s church, thus neatly avoiding the Bob Jones scandal!
However, Paul Cain is hardly a more credible figure to have launched this initiative, being one of the foremost supporters of the Latter Rain Movement still in active ministry today.
In the mid 1980’s Mike Bickle met Paul Cain, an elderly man who had been closely involved in the Latter Rain “revival” of the 1940’s and who believed that the Movement had gone underground in the 1950’s for a wilderness period of 40 years only to emerge into full flowering with a “new breed”, a new generation of apostles and prophets who would fulfill the vision.
Cain went on record as saying that William Branham was the greatest prophet of his age. In 1987 Paul Cain was adopted as the “father” of the new work at Grace Ministries.
Cain, and a number of other false prophets with notable (notorious) ministries then became world famous for their activities and found themselves on the front pages of many Christian magazines and newspapers as the Kansas City Prophets.
They began to swallow up smaller churches in their locality, determined to produce the City Church under their apostolic headship. Spiritual abuses were commonplace.
The home team consisted of Paul Cain, Bob Jones (who was later disciplined for sexual impropriety) and John Paul Jackson with Mike Bickle as host and “interpreter” for some of the weirder dreams and visions. Later the team widened to include a host of other names, today well known in the revival.
The list of ministers joined to or associated with the work was impressive. They included:
- Francis Frangipane
- Ruevan Doran
- Larry Randolph
- David Ravenhill
- Jim Goll
- Harry Schroeder
- Jack Deere
- Rick Joyner
Then John Wimber and the Vineyard got involved, Paul Cain having adopted John Wimber as his mentor and spiritual father. In 1990, following public criticism and a hardhitting report prepared by Ernie Gruen, Mike Bickle submitted himself and Grace Ministries to John Wimber and all the fellowships associated with KCF became Vineyards. (Rather like the Toronto Fellowship, KCF were dropped by Vineyard subsequently when their activities became too troublesome.)
The FOTB (Friends of the Bridegroom) ministry of Mike Bickle actively links with Sonship/MSOG/Latter Rain prophets and apostles and many involved in the revival, including Tommy Tenney, Jack Deere, Sam Storms, John Kilpatrick and Jill Austin to name but a few.
The Church Deceived
At the height of activity of the Kansas City Prophets (late 80s to early 90s), American and English church leaders fell over themselves to applaud the KCP, with British evangelical leaders giving their support and approval to the team. British Christian David Pytches wrote a book called “Some Said It Thundered” giving a cleaned-up version of the origins and beliefs of KCP and this publicised the movement further in the UK.
Some, including myself, were vainly trying to warn Christians and leaders about the occultic manifestations, false prophecies and Latter-Rain doctrines of the group. However in those days few had even heard of the Latter Rain Movement and they missed the point. Most dismissed the warnings as scaremongering and an overreaction.
On the whole, major ministries and organisations in the UK as well as in the States (although concerned about various abuses) failed to see the real dangers.
A few individuals were left with the task of circulating damning tapes of false prophecies and dominionist doctrine by the KCP. Eventually by a sort of drip-feed system, the message got through, but not before the group had received widespread approval and support, and been promoted throughout the Church as bona fide. This early support has sustained Grace Fellowship (Metro Christian Fellowship) through the years and given its later activities some validity.
So we come to the subject of this article – the Harp and Bowl initiative.
What is the IHOP?
IHOP stands for International House of Prayer. Paul Cain used the letters also as an acrostic for the vision of the venture, which was Intercession, Holiness, Offerings and Prophecy.
Here is one official description of the work:
“The International House of Prayer is a 24-hours a day, citywide, worship and warfare, inter-denominational prayer ministry serving the body of Christ. This ministry is modeled after the tabernacle of David with singers and musicians being released to lead corporate intercession and worship 24-hours a day. This is an effective method for the churches in the county to come together and DWELL in unity so that God can unlock His commanded blessing. …The Word of God Declares “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” Mark 11:17. … This House of Prayer for All Nations ministry includes continuous praise and prayer dethroning the principalities and power over a region declaring Gods sovereignty. This is in the spirit of Revelation 4-5 “Harp & Bowl” worship and warfare prayer gatherings, the harp representing praise and the bowl representing the prayers of the saints which is at the heart of David’s Tabernacle.” (Revival Times website)