What are real people who have experienced IHOP for themselves saying now? RUN! There are literally hundreds of testimonies just like these, and I will continue to share them periodically. For now, I pulled the twelve that touched my heart the most.
I will not share names or pertinent information unless the people have given me permission to do so, but here are twelve testimonies of encounters with IHOP.
One mother wrote: “My daughter attended summer camp at IHOP KC and she came home emaciated and sick and ended up being hospitalized for two days. Not only did that cost us a fortune, but my daughter is in therapy trying to overcome the demons she saw Mike Bickle casting out of people. She told her leader that she wanted to go home but they wouldn’t allow her to have her cell phone back to call me and they punished her by making her do extra journaling assignments. When she told them she was feeling sick, they accused her of trying to get out of her assignments. She told her father and I that they announced they were calling a mandatory fast and the leaders got to eat but her group didn’t eat for a day and a half.”
A former IHOP staff member wrote: “At first I thought IHOP was the answer to my prayers because it felt so incredible and I felt so close to the Lord. But things began to change when I started questioning some of the practices and teachings. I was pulled into a private room with several members of the leadership team, including Mike Bickle and reprimanded for my doubt. I was then told to increase my time in the prayer room and strongly encouraged toward a mandatory fast despite the fact that I was pregnant at the time.”
A former IHOP leadership team member stated: “I met with Mike Bickle and two other people on the leadership team because I was feeling uncomfortable in my spirit with some of the things I was seeing and hearing about. I was told that because I was in mere infancy in the Lord that I was to trust their wisdom implicitly and that it was Satan planting seeds of doubt in my mind. They told me that questioning the authority God had placed in my life would only open myself up to demonic impressions.”
A young woman who attended a summer camp at IHOP KC wrote this: “I’ve never seen demons before but they were everywhere and people were acting like it was normal to cast them out. I was raised differently and it wasn’t normal for me. I went to my group leader and told her that I wanted to go home. I was crying and scared and she rebuked my spirit of fear and told me I would be able to leave when the camp was over. I cried all night and the next day my leader said she had consulted with the leadership team and they felt that I needed fast that whole day and to journal about my fear and confront the demons in my mind. I begged to be able to call my mom and go home but they wouldn’t let me.”
In a New York Times article, the reporter stated: “Some former students have complained that the sensory overload and isolation had left them unable to think for themselves, and that some leaders had urged them to avoid contact with skeptical parents.”
A note from a former IHOP University Student: “I spent two years at IHOP, first just attending prayer sessions and then actually enrolling in the university. I thought it was really cool at first. I felt really close to God especially when we were singing and worshipping in the prayer room. It was almost a euphoric kind of feeling. But then I started to have doubts about all the prophesy stuff and I didn’t agree with how they were teaching people to prophesy like it was a learned craft instead of a gift from God. I started to study my Bible and realized a lot of the stuff being taught by high up leaders wasn’t right and it started to scare me. I now know that the euphoric feeling I had wasn’t God, it came from something dark. I hope other people get out because it’s a scary place.”
Stephanie Gerard, age 27, said that she was asked to leave the Bible school two years ago after she started challenging her teachers’ fascination with mystical “signs and wonders,” and that after months of praying and fasting, “I sounded like a clone.”
An IHOP intern wrote: “I thought it was the best place on earth until it hit me one day that I wasn’t meditating on the word of God like the Bible says to, I was using the Bible to meditate and empty my mind and reach different spiritual levels. A friend of mine called what I was doing transcendental meditation and showed me how dangerous it is when you tap into the spiritual realm to go deeper like that. It isn’t God you find even though at first it feels really good, it turns really bad. I was lucky to get out and I pray every day for the people I know that are still trapped.”
One mother wrote: “I lost my son to the IHOP movement and haven’t spoken to him in two years. When he went there as an intern I noticed a change in his behavior right away. He was arrogant toward me and my son was never that way. Even in his rebellious youth he was never disrespectful or arrogant toward me. I drove four hours to the IHOP campus and asked to see my son, but they told me that he didn’t want to see me. I tried to see him for over an hour before I left devastated. A few hours later my son called me and told me that he had sought higher counsel and they informed him not to speak to me or anyone else in the family. His leadership team told him that his family would not understand him and would only cause him to doubt. My heart is broken and my life has been devastated. I tried to talk to the leadership at IHOP, but they would not return my calls. I wrote letters to Mike Bickle and never received a response. I spoke to the local police and was told that my son is there willingly and there is nothing they can do. IHOP is a cult and I pray every man, woman and child runs from it.”
A pastor wrote: “I’ve spent many years as a youth pastor and at my latest assignment the church and teens were heavily influenced by IHOP, of which I knew nothing about. I noticed the longer I was there, a disconnection between the youth and reality. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I finally concluded that the IHOP movement cultivates a mindset of withdrawing and creating a worship box mindset. It goes back to the point that too much of a good thing quickly becomes bad. At this point in my observation of the youth I have seen more damage from IHOP than good come out of it.”
A letter from an ex-IHOP member: “I had been attending the FSM (Forerunner School of Ministry) for two years, taking in everything, journaling everything and testing everything against scripture. I can honestly tell you that there are so many false doctrines at IHOP that it isn’t even funny. They twist scripture and take them out of context to fit made up doctrines and the worst part is they have vague excuses for everything. The very worst excuse and most dangerous is this: ‘The Holy Spirit loves to offend the mind, that’s how you know it’s from God.’ This statement is not biblical and they use it to persuade people to admonish their own doubts and blindly trust what is being fed to them. IHOP is without a doubt a cult.”
An ex-student of IHOP wrote: “I began taking everything that was taught back to scripture and praying for God to show me the truth. When I met with my leadership team to share my findings with them, they proceeded to tell me that I needed healing and deliverance from authority issues and that it wasn’t my fault but I had let the demons in by questioning. They smoothly threatened me not to tell anyone else about my questions or about this meeting.”