I’m a little under the weather today so instead of writing anything deep I’m going to tell you guys a story. During the early years of the last decade my wife and I went to most of the conferences that the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City put on. In those days they would bring in many of the top prophetic and healing ministers in the Charismatic church. The conference sessions were in a very large room that held around five thousand people. On this particular day the room was packed. I had heard of the speaker, Todd Bentley, but I didn’t know anything about him.
He was obviously young, in his twenties, and something of a firebrand. He paced back and forth on the stage while excitedly telling stories about what God was doing through his ministry. Many of the stories were incredible to say the least. To be honest I was thinking “what is this guy on?” When he was nearing the end of his message a few people started to go into the isles and get into a sprinter position. I was confused having never seen anything like this before. Finally as people continued to go into the isles, Todd said something to the effect of “These people are hungry for God.” Suddenly hundreds of people sprinted to the front – apparently they had been to a Todd Bentley meeting before. One of the IHOP leaders grabbed the mic and explained how people were to line up. Aja was a bit weirded out, but I thought what the heck I’ll get in line. There ended up being three lines of people wrapped around the auditorium, and I’m talking about a big room, maybe 150 feet square. I was in the second row on the farthest side of the square. It was very interesting to be able to watch what happened before he prayed for me; remember I’m very skeptical at this point. Todd was walking along laying hands on people for a second or two each. The people were falling like dominoes; all of them (ok maybe 5% didn’t but it was a huge percentage). When he was turning the corner, about 50 to 80 feet away from me, I began to feel the Holy Spirit. The closer he got the stronger the feeling became. As he went by I thought, “Oh my God! This is real.” The intensity was incredible. So now I’m ready. Next time around the feeling is the same as he gets closer. As he gets within five feet the presence of God is crazy intense. To get a sense of what this felt like close your eyes and imagine that an Apache helicopter is flying right past you. Seriously. It was like pulsing, swirling, surging waves of energy. After a couple of minutes, I got off the floor to go to the bathroom and heard a man explaining salvation to one of the janitors who was concerned about his sins. The janitor now knew God was real.
Mass delusion? I doubt it. I’ve been to other meetings of his that were not anything like that. Also I don’t know how you hypnotize 5,000 many of whom don’t trust you, let alone the workers who weren’t even a part of the meeting. No, this was the real deal. It’s how I imagine it was in the book of Acts when people would lay their sick in the streets so that Peter’s overshadowing could heal them.
What was the fruit? Personally, I can never doubt that God is real again. I’m not worried about new developments in science or theology. Debates concerning the existence of God are as interesting to me as debates concerning the existence of the sun. He’s real. Also, God is much cooler than I’d thought. Of course, there is the theology of God’s awesomeness, but what is experienced in most churches is very different. Suddenly, things like prayer and worship made a whole lot more sense. God is awesome and powerful.