There is nothing to do in Kansas City.
It is definitely one of the most boring places I’ve ever been to. The city is small and dirty; the weather is often terrible; there is no vibrancy that compares with the big cities I’ve lived in e.g. Chicago and Los Angeles.
Yet strangely enough, I found myself again there for a few days in January past the new year.
I was there to spend my time in the International House of Prayer (IHOP-KC) where, in their prayer room, I mostly prayed, worshiped, and read my Bible.
Amidst this “boring” city is one of the most spiritually invigorating places I’ve been to in my life. Their Global Prayer Room is a medium-sized facility where worship and prayer happen 24/7.
Singers, musicians, and prayer leaders take the microphone and provide an atmosphere of worship, contemplation, meditation, and hunger for God.
And they have been doing this for 16 years straight.
This January, however, marked a different date of importance. It is actually the 10 year mark of when God touched me first at IHOP-KC. What God deposited in me 10 years ago through this organization brings me back here today a decade later as the seeds of what was planted continue to bloom in my life.
It was in 2005…
In the mid-semester of my freshman year of college where, through some strange and divine circumstances, God brought me to the One Thing conference hosted by IHOP-KC.
In the course of my entire life, that week represented the most transformative week in my entire life. Initially offended by the culture of charismatic culture, God began wooing my heart mid week, and by the end of my time in KC, I was a complete mess as God completely opened up my heart.
I was definitely a charistmatic skeptic back then but things radically changed.
I remember in one session, a prayer minister laid hands on me and began praying over my life. At that moment, I completely lost motor control of my body as this warm gooey liquid began saturating my body all the way to my fingertips. I began speaking in tongues for the first time in my life. The whole time I was thinking in my mind ,”OMG OMG OMG”. Bewildered, I ran to my friend and told him of my mind-blowing experience.
I remember how certain messages struck like an arrow in my heart and lit an unquenchable flame. They spoke of a love for Jesus and a love from Jesus that I’ve never heard about. They spoke to him like their friend.
I experienced other manifestations. There was this one message where I just sat there and was weeping uncontrollably. I was weeping having gained a revelation of Jesus’ beauty, my sinfulness, and the greatness of his glory.
Along with those experiences, my theology was forever transformed as paradigms such as intimacy with Jesus, having a prayer life, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and eschatology would shape and feed me theologically for the years to come.
The greatest takeway from my time is their unrelenting emphasis on having a dynamic love for Jesus, which is a cross-denominational pursuit that can be celebrated.
Fast forward 10 years.
I am far removed from proximity to the IHOP-KC community as I live much further away now. Most of my friends who have completed their internships or education from their training programs have moved back home.
Yet here I am in Kanas City, basically alone, sitting in their prayer room hours a day finding what was deposited in me years ago is being rekindled for my current season in life–love for Jesus and strength to live out this faith.
I work a normal job. I’m married now. Yet there’s something here I still want and still long to pursue after. It’s the presence of Jesus. Not just here in Kansas City, but I want his presence to be saturated in my heart and life for the rest of my life no matter what I’m doing.
It therefore immensely blesses me to join the chorus for a few days of what IHOP-KC is singing in their prayer room. To be surrounded by other weak people seeking to know him more and to love him with their whole hearts. This spiritual environment continues to minister to me this day.
And I understand that my experience is not unique. IHOP-KC, while receiving plenty of criticism, has ministered to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. I remember being in a remote church in Taiwan where the leaders of their church were trying to recreate the prayer room in the likeness of what was at Kansas City. More importantly, I saw the same fire and passion in the eyes of these young and vibrant Taiwanese youth.
What is IHOP really?
To some, IHOP-KC is a ecclesiastical anomoly. They’re not a church; they’re just a house of prayer. Yet why does God anoint them with such global prominence?
It is my perspective that IHOP-KC is actually a God-raised modern-day monastic movement.
I understand from global church history that, although God has worked faithfully generation after generation in the established church, he has also consistently and cyclically anointed monastaries to support his work.
Monastaries were strange things to the church as they operated often in rural areas with a focus of bringing revitilization in the orthodox church. They were, to use a biblical analogy, the John the Baptists–strange desert dwellers who called the church to renewed purity and passion for God.
And so here we are–in the desert known as Kansas City where a 24/7 prayer and worship meeting has been going on for 16 years. It is here that I believe that IHOP-KC serves as a modern day monastary for the church.
And for that I’m incredibly thankful.
I’ve seen the fruits of their ministry grow in my life with great zeal. This trip, I feel a renewed energy to spend time with God here in Pasadena in the secret place. I feel convicted about praying for so many things. I’m ready for this next season with the power of the Holy Spirit.
In addition, I know that thousands flock here every year for days, weeks, for internships, schools, or even long term because IHOP-KC provides a vibrancy that their typical church does not provide.
I understand that IHOP-KC has recieved plenty of criticism over the years. Yet I remain unmoved in seeing the value of their ministry in the overall body of Christ. They are the desert that gives me the water I often long to drink that my large-city dwelling does not provide. They are the revitilization that love to recieve and overflow to others.
Thank you IHOP-KC. And this is why I (still) love you.