IHOPKC’s Expression of the Harp and Bowl Model
by Adam Wittenberg
It sounds intimidating but it’s really not. We speak of a “harp and bowl model of prayer.” At the International House of Prayer, we use this model as a way of combining worship and prayer. It helps to facilitate enjoyable prayer as we sing various biblical passages. This has proven integral to sustaining 24/7 prayer with worship over the last 20 years at IHOPKC. There have been various expressions of this model used by others throughout the Body of Christ in prayer meetings worldwide.
Here are some distinct aspects of our expression of the harp and bowl model.
1. It’s Scriptural
Teams of singers took shifts day and night to minister to God around the ark of the covenant. The 288 singers and 4,000 musicians hired by David served the Lord as their full-time occupation (1 Chronicles 6:31–33; 15:16–22; 23:4–6; 25:7). Many years later, in Acts 15, James linked the Gentiles receiving salvation with the rebuilding of David’s tabernacle—and said it would lead to the gospel spreading to the ends of the earth, that “the rest of mankind may seek the Lord” (Acts 15:1–17). Even to this day, millions are coming to Christ worldwide.
Then in Revelation, we see this end-time verse:
“Now when [Jesus] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8)
In this vision, John sees the heavenly worship as Jesus takes the scroll which will unleash the seven seals eventually leading to His return to rule the earth. Throughout Scripture, the theme is consistent: worship and prayer together are powerful, influential, and part of God’s plan to glorify His name and to bring many souls to Him.
2. It’s about God and His Word
The focus of harp and bowl worship is God Himself. Our songs and prayers are directed toward God. As when we pray for issues (such as the ending of abortion or human trafficking), we are asking God to move in accordance with His Word and desires. We do this by grounding our prayers in the Bible. We start by expressing agreement with God’s Word and what He says about the problem or situation. The Lord is faithful to His Word, and it will not return to Him void until it has accomplished that for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11).
Harp and bowl usually incorporates apostolic prayers—prayers that the New Testament apostles prayed for the Church—as well as Psalms, some Old Testament prophetic promises, and the words and prayers of Jesus. These prayers are for the positive impartation of God’s activities and for the Church to walk in the fullness of her destiny in this hour.
3. It’s Dynamic
Harp and bowl facilitates interaction between the intercessor(s), singer(s), and the musician(s). Most prayer meetings begin with a time of corporate worship to bring people together into God’s presence. Then, when intercession starts, the music dials down (but still continues) as the intercessors pray. When each prayer is concluded, the singers begin to sing based on what was prayed on the intercessors mic, eventually creating a chorus for the whole room to sing. This is how we are able to pray for hours on end. The cycle repeats as often as needed (based on the number of intercessors), with times of corporate worship interwoven to provide breaks between intercession topics.
In our house of prayer, worship teams typically play two-hour sets, but please tailor your timeframe to what is needed. This dynamic structure creates an environment of enjoyable corporate prayer, inviting those not on the worship team or prayer microphone to participate through agreeing with the scripture and spoken prayer and singing the chorus composed by the worship team. As it flows, it’s lively, energetic, and accessible for all.
Simply put, 24/7 prayer at IHOPKC has continued nonstop since 1999 in the context of a thriving community of young adults (as well as believers of all ages). One way that it has been strengthened has to do with the use of the harp and bowl model. Yes, 24-hour prayer has existed on earth for thousands of years at different times in history, and it is more enjoyable and sustainable with music and songs.
In these unprecedented times, as the return of Jesus draws closer, we take time to marvel at what the Lord has done over just the last few decades.
Whether you’re in a room of 1,000, at a gathering of 100, or praying with a few intercessors together in a room, the delight of combining prayer with worship is available to all of us. We pray and believe the Lord will hear songs that offer incense to His name out of “every place” in the generation in which He returns (Malachi 1:11). Will you join us and many others around the globe?
What is your experience with combining worship and prayer?
If you’d like to learn more about the harp and bowl model, we recommend watching IHOPKC’s Global Prayer Room. This 24/7 prayer room features live prayer with worship, and you can observe how they flow together. Many intercessors join us via webstream, and houses of prayer and ministries also use it to augment their efforts. We pray that you are blessed!
A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.