The one good thing about pain, though, is that it makes you desperate enough to run to God. And run I did.

My IHOPKC Experience: Colin’s Story

by Colin McNulty
4 weeks ago 20th Anniversary

“I am a sojourner with You, a guest, like my fathers.” (Psalm 39:12 ESV)

I read those words in the prayer room as a young man one morning in the summer of 2009. I responded back to the Lord with a deep sigh: “But my father wasn’t a sojourner.” I was well aware at this point in my journey with Jesus that I had grown up without a godly dad. The pain of this truth had been hanging over me like a thick cloud during my first few years at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City. For whatever reason though, that morning it hit me extra hard.

I came to IHOPKC in 2007 to attend the International House of Prayer University. I was eager to dive deep into the glory of this whole Jesus-the-Bridegroom-God thing that I’d heard about as a new Christian on bootleg CDs of Mike Bickle’s teaching and at the 2005 Onething conference. Instead though, when I got here, I ran straight into my father wound. It hit me hard from every angle. Long hours in the prayer room, the stress of raising financial support to attend school and the prayer room full time, the pain of getting the “I just want to be friends” speech from a few too many girls I was convinced liked me, or just trying to figure out life in a new city on my own. It seemed like everywhere I turned I was forced to confront my brokenness and deal with the pain of a past that I had successfully ignored for most of my adult life.

Shortly after I arrived at IHOPKC, I started to make friends with people who had godly parents. Getting a glimpse into what it was like to have a relationship with a father who loved Jesus made me realize how much I had missed out on. Facing this pain was a huge step for me, but it left me with a bigger dilemma: I needed God to heal me. The pain in that season was so overwhelming that sometimes it was all I could feel. The one good thing about pain, though, is that it makes you desperate enough to run to God. And run I did. I pressed into prayer, fasting, inner healing, giving, reaching out to older men, studying the Word—really, anywhere I could press in to get God’s healing touch, I was seeking it out.

Enter the IHOPU Student Awakening. I would love to have this be the part of my story where I tell you how God dramatically encountered me and in a moment I was set free from years of pain and rejection, but that is not my story. Instead, I watched over the span of a few years as many of my friends shook with the power of the Holy Spirit and got set free in a moment. I wrestled with how others could be feeling so much while I was feeling so little. I fought to not draw back in that season and to believe that just because I didn’t feel anything, it didn’t mean God didn’t love me or that He wasn’t at work in me. I would have lost heart in this season had God not hedged me in through the encouragement of my leaders and friends at IHOPKC, who reminded me that what God was really after in this season (for those who felt a lot or a little) was humility.

Now back to that morning in the prayer room as I spoke that familiar painful phrase to the Lord, “But God, my father wasn’t a sojourner,” I heard in my spirit a reply, “But yourchildren will have a different testimony.” As I heard this, I pictured my kids (I was single at the time, but I had a good imagination) being my age and maybe even pacing in the same aisle of this prayer room, being able to say, “My Dad was a sojourner, he wasn’t living for this world. He went hard after the Lord. He left a good example for me to follow.” Now, this wasn’t my breakthrough moment where everything changed, but it did change my perspective about what I was going through. My wrestle wasn’t just about me, this was about my kids. They would have a different story than I did! I also realized that day, and more and more over the years to come, the dignity of being a first-generation Christian. Sure, growing up without a believing parent was hard, but it meant I had to really take God up on His Word in Psalm 27:10 that when our father or mother forsake us, the Lord will take us in.

That morning I happened to be having a side-room meeting with Matt Candler, a leader at IHOPU at that time, who was intentionally connecting with me that summer. I shared with him what the Lord had said to me from Psalm 39, and Matt told me he believed this wasn’t just about my natural children but that the Lord was going to make me a father in this movement. That was a pretty gutsy word to give to a guy he was just getting to know, but it stuck with me.

There was never a dramatic turning point in my journey where in a moment “everything changed,” but over the years, through little conversations with God around His Word and working it out in life with the friends God had graciously put beside me, I’ve seen great change in my heart. Today I am confident in God’s love for me as a father. I know that God has called me to be a part of that generation of fathers whose hearts are turning to the next generation to tell them what they heard from the Father when they were young men learning to overcome.

Where do you need greater revelation of God’s love for you as a father?

Colin McNulty

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