About Justin Rizzo
I was born and raised in suburban Western New York, where I spent the first 17 years of my life. To say that I was born into a musical family might be an understatement. My dad served as both pastor and worship leader while I was growing up and my mom, who sang professionally before starting a family, sang in church alongside him. My older sister, Danielle, sang in musicals and served as a director, writer, and stage manager in her college drama program, while my older brother, Jonathan, led worship on piano and performed original songs while still a teenager. Following suit, I picked up piano, drums, and guitar during my high school years.
In addition to a love for music, my parents had a firm belief in the power of prayer that I know is the primary reason I have stayed close to the Lord throughout the years. When I was seven years old, I got saved at a children’s crusade at my church and even from that young age, the Lord began to mark my heart with a desire to be in His presence. I remember times in church when I didn’t want the service to end and I didn’t want to leave the building because I just liked being there. I didn’t know it then, but the Lord was planting seeds in my heart from a young age that would grow into the enjoyment of spending long hours before Him. Of course, I knew nothing about a house of prayer at the time, but the Lord clearly knew what He was doing!
Unfortunately, my fondness for church did not extend to school. My mom homeschooled all three of us through high school and I would always tell her that if I ever went to college, it would either be just to study music or just to study the Bible. Though my aversion to school was many times expressed in the wrong spirit, I am struck at how much the Lord loves me in that He answered the cry of my heart so perfectly! Directly out of high school, He led me to come to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, where I now devote my life to writing music and studying the word, the very things I had always desired to do.
As I look back at how I landed here in Kansas City, it seems like such a random and unlikely event that it had to be the Lord. Around the time of my high school graduation, my dad showed me a brochure for a six-month program (the One Thing Internship) with other young people at IHOP-KC. At his suggestion, I applied and was accepted. I knew virtually nothing about the house of prayer and had no idea what I was walking into. I didn’t even really know that there was a 24/7 prayer room.
About two months into my internship, the Lord really began revealing Himself to me. It was then that I realized that there was a grave disconnect in my heart from who the Bible said that God is and what I was actually experiencing of Him. This started me on a journey of discovering Him that I now know will never end. As the word says, it truly is the glory of man now and forever to search out the depths of the riches of the glory of our God.
Immediately after my graduation from the One Thing Internship, I joined the IHOP-KC staff and have been here ever since, spending many hours a week in the prayer room. In the nine years that I have been here, I have been blessed with a beautiful and godly wife, Naomi, who is on staff as a singer and administrator in the house of prayer. The Lord has also graciously brought my family together, as my parents and brother and sister have all moved to Kansas City and joined full-time staff at IHOP-KC. Fulfilling a calling that I love is even sweeter with my wife by my side and my family here ministering together again. I feel like my heart has truly found its home here at the house of prayer. I feel alive and fulfilled in the place of worship and intercession and every day I am more and more thankful for what I get to do.
My calling includes worship leading, teaching, singing, and songwriting, but I never want to lose sight of the fact that my primary mandate is to minister before the Lord. My heart’s cry is like that of David when he said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, to gaze upon Him and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). My greatest desire is to see Jesus come back to the Earth and establish His throne in Jerusalem. I long for the day when He will be the worldwide obsession of every single person on Earth and have supremacy in all things (Colossians 1). My desire is to help send a clear call to this generation that we must wake up from our slumber and prepare the way of the Lord.