Pursuing Excellence in Singing
by Anna Blanc
Artists and Authors
As prophetic singers, our job description is to sing the Word. This requires us to be knowledgeable in the Word. If we do not know the Word, we have nothing to sing. The Lord takes the role of prophetic singer seriously. Essential to His invitation to function before Him as a singer is the summons to an enduring commitment to His Word. If you accept your calling as prophetic singer, your call to the Word of God will rearrange your life’s value system and schedule.
The Bible is the most valued resource of a prophetic singer. It is the brick and mortar of what we do, and uncovering its treasures is our highest priority.
The Bible itself is a prophetic book, and the Holy Spirit loves every word in it. We could never come up with something better or more anointed than what He breathes on in that Book. Our job as prophetic singers is to gain an understanding of the Word, know it in our hearts, live it in our lives, and open our mouths to sing it. The Holy Spirit then anoints it with His power, and lives are changed; things are shifted in the spirit as we sing.
Beautiful singing and poetic language are absolutely empty unless they are filled up with the substance of Scripture.
The first step to growing in knowledge of the Word is to put reading and meditating upon it in your schedule. Don’t assume that because this is a priority in your heart that it will happen naturally. You must intentionally set aside times throughout the week dedicated to reading the Bible.
Secondly, get a game plan. Map out how you will spend the time you have allotted to the study of the Word. I recommend including time simply reading through large portions of text, time in meditation, and time in detailed study.
Some follow reading plans over ninety days that include the Old Testament. The beauty of this is that it familiarizes you with the whole of Scripture. You get to step back and see the broad-stroke themes the Holy Spirit is emphasizing throughout the Word. Related verses that you may not have spotted when seeing them in isolation begin to align since you are encountering them together in such a short period of time.
Meditation is a slow and prayerful way to read the Bible. The goal here is not the length of the Scripture you will read; it is the depth to which you will go. Begin your time of meditation by focusing your attention on the Holy Spirit who lives inside you (see John 7:38–39; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 3:16). He is your escort into the Word! He has been sent to teach you all things, and He will remind your heart of all Jesus has spoken ( John. 14:26).
Studying the Word
In studying the Word, first select a passage. One simple way to go about this is to choose a whole book of the Bible at a time. It may be impactful for you to choose a book your worship team has been singing a passage from. Gather some materials to help you: two different commentaries on that book, a set of highlighters, a pen, and some blank paper. Work your way through the book of the Bible a paragraph at a time, reading what the commentaries have to say about that segment as you go. Highlight things in the commentaries that aid you in understanding the passage. Write on the extra paper insights you receive from the commentaries or things that strike your heart as you are working your way through the passage. It can also be helpful to cross-reference other verses as you move through the passage. Look them up and write out the helpful ones. Use these cross-references to create a paraphrase of the verses you are focusing on. You truly know a passage when you can put it in your own language while still preserving the meaning of the text.
These methods are not all inclusive, but they are three tactics that help us pursue excellence in singing. The pursuit of excellence in singing is godly. David said in Psalm 48:1, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” Indeed, He is worthy of our best offerings. We read in Psalm 33:3 that we are to sing to the Lord a new song and “play skillfully with a shout of joy.” Clearly excellence and skill are to be part of our praise and worship.
Growing in excellence is an issue of stewardship. To pit anointing against excellence is like choosing between reaching for the presence of the Lord in your worship and being a good steward. Both are required of us.
We must constantly be reevaluating our goals for excellence as we grow in excellence. Singing certain styles may only seem simple to you now because you have done it enough to become excellent in that area.
The goal is not to always sing in a way we are most comfortable, but to faithfully continue in reaching for the next level of singing well until it also becomes easy—almost second nature. Then we look to yet another level of excellence. Instead of anointing versus excellence, let’s pursue excellent singing that is anointed.
Growing in excellence as a singer takes time, the investment of energy, and oftentimes money. As a prophetic singer, I view voice lessons as part of the gig. Yes, weekly lessons are usually expensive, and you will need to add this expense in as part of your monthly budget. When you look back after several years of applying yourself to good vocal instruction, you will see how priceless that decision was and, in comparison, how small the sacrifice.
Indeed, it is never the things we offer that are precious to the Lord; it is the heart posture behind the offering that assigns value to the gift.
So often we want our sacrifice to God to look impressive. Moved in love for Jesus, we offer tearful declarations before Him that we would do anything for Him. Move to Africa as a missionary, give Him a million dollars if He would give the opportunity, stand firm in the face of martyrdom—anything to demonstrate the deep love and dedication we feel for Him. Ironically, for the vast majority of believers, the expression of love the Lord is looking for is the costliness of remaining faithful in the small and seemingly insignificant callings He has placed before us. We can get so wrapped up in looking for the next big move or change of season that we miss His will for us in daily walking out the calling of being a prophetic singer.
There is great sacrifice in signing up again and again for the daily difficulties of our position. No one may see all that it takes to press through the swirl of negative emotions we feel. No one else may know all it takes to work several jobs or feed three children and actually show up to the worship set on time.
For us, our refusal to quit through the early mornings, late nights, weariness, and temptation fills our simple song with priceless value before the Lord. We take all we have, though it looks far less grand than we envisioned, and pour it at His feet as a costly sacrifice of praise.
In all of this we have to remember that as prophetic singers, we have to repeatedly choose the “good part” of abiding at Jesus’ feet. In all our good intentions, we can easily become distracted by the work of serving Him just to realize that we are busy at the loss of actually being with Him.
There is only one thing truly needed, and that is to remain steadfast in the place of fellowship with our Beloved—to be where He is and do what He is doing. It is in this posture of abiding that Mary “heard His word.” She was undistracted by the peripheral, lesser things and able to let His every word sink deeply into her spirit. Even in the busyness, we can remember the invitation the Lord extends to us to share in unbroken fellowship. This is our great inheritance.
Anna serves as an intercessory missionary at IHOPKC, where she has been a singer and worship leader since 2005. With a degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences, she desires to write songs that touch the heart of God and heal the brokenhearted. Anna has taught an advanced class on prophetic singing at the music school at IHOPU. Anna lives with her husband, Shawn, and their two sons in Kansas City.