My IHOPKC Experience: Sarah’s Story
by Sarah McNulty
I was 13 years old when I heard about this place where prayer and worship never stopped. I was in awe. I pictured vaulted ceilings, marble floors, pillars, and voices echoing through the halls in song. It was filled with natural light, and it was beautiful. You can imagine my shock when I walked into the tiny, dark, low ceiling, bubble-carpeted trailers two years later.
I moved to Kansas City in July 2004, fresh out of high school. By that time, the prayer room moved to the Red Bridge Center. Still no vaulted ceilings or echoes without aid from reverb. It was brown. There was a large space in the front with lines for ministry time. These lines doubled as pacing lanes.
The webstream started right around that time, with a little camera on one of the pillars in the front. You could only see the stage, the prayer mic, and all those people coming in and out of view pacing on those lines. You couldn’t really see faces—but as a singer at the time, I appreciated that. Mostly because of the spontaneous laughing when your worship leader would accidentally mix up the words to the song. Or that one (or several) time the guitar player accidentally fell asleep during the 6am, “waiting” for the whole band to come in and woke himself up by a few times “nodding.”
There was the natural insecurity of singing with a team and in front of people you didn’t know—especially when you were supposed to sing the Word and realized you didn’t know it. But there is no way to learn the Word like singing and praying it. The Word takes you on a journey if you stick with it. Somehow, you wake up one day after years of singing it and find that it’s alive. Many times I’ve found myself singing choruses made up in prayer meetings years before and realized I was singing Scripture and praying for the friend I prayed for back then.
You know when you hear a song that you haven’t heard since high school and suddenly it takes you back to those emotions, the memory of the people, and the story surrounding it? That is what it is like after a decade of praying and singing the Bible. I was sitting in the prayer room the other day when someone started singing a chorus my roommate made up 10 years ago. Few people in the room or on the team even knew her, let alone the journey of that chorus for her. But I can remember the teachings we were hearing, the season she was in, and the wrestle in her heart. And two things hit me.
First, this is why the “Bible” part of “singing the Bible” is so important. Songs always take you back, but songs from the Bible take you back to your history with Jesus. They lift your gaze to Him. They have the power to elicit repentance. To correct thinking. To draw out thankfulness when it is hard and to bring comfort in gut-wrenching seasons. They remind you of His kindness, His goodness, and His character. Songs from the Bible have the power to teach you about Him. You may not have known the full extent of what that chorus meant, but over time, through growing and going on a journey, you understand more. Psalm 16’s “Beautiful boundary lines have fallen all around me” is a chorus I’ve sung for years, but what those boundary lines have meant?—I could cry just thinking about them. When I sing this chorus and remember this history, I’m reminded that His leadership is perfect. It could just be a normal day, but suddenly I know He is near. I could be weeping in pain when this song starts to come out of my mouth, and I know He is with me. I remember “He maintains my lot.” Then peace comes though I’m still raw, and I “rest in hope.”
Second, singing and praying the Word with others is when it is really powerful. Many have said over the years that true community is built around the Bible and prayer. I can understand if that is hard to believe, especially when you’ve made friends and felt known by other means. But that is because community takes history. And community that lasts takes history in truth.
Throughout the years, Allen Hood encouraged songwriters to write what he called “eternal songs.” These were songs that were written in such a way we could keep singing them in eternity. And through the years, these people, my friends, wrote songs that I firmly believe we will sing again together before the throne. Choruses like, “Praise be to the wounded One. All glory and power to the Son. We ascribe worth and give love to You, Lord. Let the fragrance of our love go forth” or “You are worthy of it all, for from You are all things, and to You are all things, You deserve the glory.” And on that day, I will look over at Davy Flowers and cry in thankfulness to Jesus for what He has done and thankfulness to her for writing a song that carried me through and brought me to this place—before His feet with a free heart. And love will abound, not only for Him but for His people.
These people. Those who were here for a little and those who have been here a long time. For 15 years of my life, we have sung the Bible together. We’ve gone through the trials of life, sometimes in each others faces and sometimes far away. But today, as I sit in the prayer room, I look over at the prayer leader and want to weep out of thankfulness and love because I know what he is going through and his unrelenting reach for Jesus. I look at the lady sitting behind me, and I’m grateful for what she has poured into my life. And the couple sitting in the back and how they have sacrificed for my friends and so many worship team members. And I think of my roommate who wrote that chorus and send her a short video of the team singing. And we both cry in thankfulness because of what it means to us and our history in Jesus.
This. This has changed my life. Singing the Bible. Singing it together with people that love Him, too. I love Him more than I ever thought I could because of His Word and those around me.
What’s your experience with singing the Bible?
Sarah has been on staff at IHOPKC since 2004 when she moved to Kansas City to do the One Thing Internship. After serving on worship teams, for internships, Luke 18, and IHOPU, Sarah married her husband, Colin, and they now have three daughters. Her passion is discipleship in the context of prayer and the Word in everyday life.