The International House of Prayer is probably best known for their passion for and commitment to 24/7 prayer. What some may not be aware of is the strong musical focus of the organization and the free end-of-the-year worship event that gathers over 25,000 worshipers. Each year they memorialize the event with a recording so that, along with the attendees, everyone is welcomed to take part in the movement of the Sprit present in the gathering and available still to the listener. Their newest iteration of the onething series (Magnificent Obsession, read review here) releases July, 24 (this week), so we thought it would be a good time to get the thoughts of Misty Edwards, one of the worship leaders at IHOP in Kansas City and a true leader in the ministry of worship through music today.
WL: Please share your journey to being involved as a worship leader with IHOP?
Misty Edwards: My journey as an IHOPKC worship leader began when the prayer room first opened in 1999. I was one of the first five interns. At the time, I didn’t see myself as a singer and certainly not as a musician or a worship leader. But the need to keep things going 24 hours a day, seven days a week meant that I ended up singing and playing a lot just to keep the worship going. It literally never stops and hasn’t stopped since then, even after almost 13 years. Since I only knew a few chords and songs, leading a two-hour worship set was a struggle. Because I did it so many hours a day for many years, over time I found my way, and I grew in music and in the Scripture.
WL: How would you describe IHOP’s onething conferences to someone who has never heard about it?
ME: The onething conference is our annual end of the year gathering where about 25,000 young adults gather here in Kansas City from around the world. We have extended times of prophetic worship where we linger in the Lord’s presence, and much teaching of Scripture to empower and equip the prayer movement. We also take time to minister to people through prayer for healing and by speaking the Lord’s heart over them.
WL: The title of the record that came from this year’s conference is Magnificent Obsession; can you break down what that means?
ME: The subtitle of our conference this year was “Jesus, Our Magnificent Obsession.” Jesus both commanded and prophesied the first commandment: that we would love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To love him in this way is to be obsessed with him. The word obsession has negative connotations in our culture, but we are using it in the positive sense of being fixated and wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus and his truth. We want to raise up young people who are loyal to him in love and who stand with him in truth. The faithful witnesses the Lord is raising up around the world will draw people to him, not to themselves, and the Holy Spirit will restore the first commandment to first place in our lives. People will not only passively love Jesus but will be abandoned in their love for him, holding nothing back. This takes a revelation of who he is. To grow in love for him we must grow in understanding of him, and this takes a ravenous hunger for the Scriptures and a perpetual turning to the Spirit to be taught the deep things of Jesus’ heart. To be obsessed with Jesus means we are entirely his and caught up in his story and his purpose above all else.
WL: There are 11 artists represented on the Magnificent Obsession; how do you synthesize so much diversity to a single cohesive album?
ME: This is a good question. We have many worship leaders and songwriters here at IHOPKC, and although they have the same heart values, they draw from a variety of different musical styles. I think of our onething album as a glimpse into the prayer room. It is kind of like each song is a chapter title for a particular musical expression in the prayer room; if you want more of a certain kind of song, you can get more from that worship leader by tuning into their prayer room sets on the global prayer room Web stream or by checking out their other albums.
WL: The song “Measure of a Man” is a particularly lovely moment in the release, what’s the background of that song?
ME: The chorus of this song was written during a devotional time where I was meditating and singing around the meaning of life and how God evaluates us versus how we evaluate one another. I’ve often pondered what true success is and have realized that only God can define it because he is creator and holds the blueprints, so to speak. Only he can measure us at the end of the day. I took the chorus, along with a few ideas, and my fellow worship leader David Brymer added to it. We recorded it in a very reflective atmosphere that is meant to make people think about the words. (Download “Measure of a Man” here)
WL: The music that comes out of forerunner seems particularly tied to the spirit of IHOP’s ministry; how is this accomplished?
ME: I like this observation. I believe what comes out of Forerunner Music captures the spirit of IHOPKC’s ministry because the men and women who are writing these songs live a life of night and day prayer. They each spend many hours in the prayer room every week and live simple lives of devotion to God and also in ministering to people. All of us here are weak and broken, but we’ve bought into the values of unending prayer, Jesus-centered music, and singing the Scripture through the Spirit, so those values come out in our songs.
WL: What is the greatest lesson you have learned as a worship leader?
ME: I have learned multiple lessons as a worship leader. I’ve learned much about Jesus, his heart and his word. I’ve learned to move with the Holy Spirit through the prophetic. I’ve learned to understand people, and how to lead their hearts, and many other dynamics that are discovered through leading worship. One of the greatest lessons I have learned over the years is that the Holy Spirit has to move upon the hearts of people in order for them to connect with the heart of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how tight my band is, how good the song I wrote is, or how skilled of a leader I am. If God doesn’t manifest his presence, it’s just another concert. I want people to encounter God, not just encounter music. I’ve learned that I desperately need him to show up, in a manifest way, in order to make true impact on the hearts of men.