The Wisdom of Singing the Word
by Adam Wittenberg
Artists and Authors
Laura Hackett Park is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and worship leader at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City. Her songs have brought hope and healing to many, as she worships with childlike joy and faith.
Laura’s family moved to Kansas City in the early 1990s, before IHOPKC was even founded, and so she literally grew up in the house of prayer.
“I was around 14 when the prayer room started, and I didn’t really like it at first,” she said in a recent interview. “I liked to sing, so I would randomly sing with different people, but at 16, the Lord really grabbed my heart.”
It was through singing the Word that the Lord gripped Laura, sparking a hunger to remain close to Him and in His house ever since.
“Singing the Bible is one of the most fun activities that I could possibly do,” she says. “I love music—I went to school for music; I love to songwrite—it’s part of who I am—but I hear the Lord’s voice through the Word.
“I’m reading the Bible, then I sing it, and then I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit rest on a word or phrase I sang, so I really feel the Lord communicates to me through singing the Bible. You can feel the emotions behind the Bible, because you’re putting it to music. It’s just brilliant.”
That’s part of her advice to the next generation of musicians, singers, and worship leaders: start singing the Bible, and take music lessons.
“At first, I knew a couple of chords on the piano,” she says. “I took some piano lessons, and I opened up the Bible and started singing it. It started rough and ugly, but there’s something really powerful when you can sing your own song to God.”
In Laura’s first Bible-based song at age 13, she actually mixed up the roles of the Beloved (Jesus) with the Shulamite (the bride), but leaders affirmed her budding talent.
“Even if it’s not the best song in the world and you’re not necessarily going to show it to everybody, when you just start singing your own songs to God, you start developing that history and you feel closer to God,” she says. “There’s also that sense of accomplishment—that’s healthy—that the Lord wants us to have with Him, to feel like we’re growing in our relationship with Him.”
Laura has a degree in music, but even she wishes she’d taken more lessons growing up.
“I think that taking music lessons is one of the best things you can do at a young age, because the older you get, the harder it is learn, and to practice,” she says. “Before you have to have a job and take on life’s responsibilities, take lessons on whatever you want to play. I did, and I wish I had done more.”
But don’t despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10), including songs you wrote as a child.
“I started writing songs when I was eight,” Laura says. “It was just part of my process. The more I worked at it, the better songwriter I became, because I have practiced almost daily for [more than] 15 years.”
Creativity flows from the Creator, and it’s His power and beauty that keeps things fresh.
“I feel like I can get bored with myself when I’m trying to be the creative one,” she says, “but when I’m talking to the most creative being in the universe, the One who is creative power, He’s really interesting, and He likes to keep things interesting.
“When I actually sing to Him, He keeps things alive and moving, not stagnant. When I sit down and try to create something, I usually get stuck, but if I just start talking to Him, it flows.”
God is creative, and He’s placed dreams inside of His children, including dreams of greatness.
“Pray the desires of your heart,” Laura says. “And even if you have a selfish desire like ‘I want to be famous,’ pray all the desires of your heart before Him. When you interact with Him, He helps show you what’s Him and what’s not Him, what you really need to hang on to and really fight for.
“God loves fighting for dreams. That is the heart of God. When you’re honest with Him about what you really want, then He can respond to those desires. Rather than saying ‘I don’t need that,’ it’s OK to need something and then He can redirect your desires.”
After spending half of her life in the house of prayer, how does she keep from getting burned out?
“I definitely get burned out at times, but I get burned out when I’m not interacting with God,” she says. “He’s alive. He’s a real person. When I tell the Lord I love Him, or sing that same song that I’ve sung like 50,000 times, He shows me different things. He talks to me in different ways, even if I’m doing the same things, and so I don’t get burned out when I’m talking to Him.”
And if burnout hits?
“In some ways, burnout seasons can be a gift because it causes you to redirect a little bit and reach for life and grow. Then new fruit comes forth that wouldn’t have come forth if you just told yourself to shut up and keep going.”
Laura, and her husband Jonas, who is also an IHOPKC worship leader, recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Mae. While they don’t want her to feel pressure to do ministry, Laura says she will teach her daughter how to sing the Bible “the second she can talk.”
“Interacting with God, and hearing His voice, and the gift of music with the Bible is something that I definitely want to teach my children, and I’m overjoyed to be in a community that does that so that she and my future kids can see the example of putting Jesus first.”
Laura Hackett Park is a featured worship leader at Fascinate, IHOPKC’s high school conference, July 21–23 in Kansas City. For registration and information, click here.
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.