A couple of years ago, while on my sabbatical I spent a week with Wayne Cordiero at a leadership practicum. At some point he told the story of a weekend when his church and all the congregations New Hope had started were worshiping together — a large outdoor gathering near Waikiki beach. They were planning on seeing well over 10,000 people show up with all their friends. It was going to be a great day, one of those time of your life kind of days…
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was forecast to be one of those rare days in Honolulu… that would be filled with rain. The night before Wayne had people praying. Wayne prayed through much of the night; asking God to hold away the rain, send the clouds somewhere else. That morning — in spite of his impassioned prayers — the rain started coming down.
Wayne went out to the park where the gathering was planned. Watching folks trying to cover up sound equipment, Wayne
went to a solitary place in the park. With no one around, he started complaining to God, critiquing God’s plan, asking him why in the world they would plan a day like this day and He couldn’t even keep it dry. He was detailing for God all the problems this was going to cause, the people that would stay away.
If you would have seen Wayne in those moments you would have thought he was a holy man beseeching God to stop the rain. Instead it was just a human man complaining to God about all the problems He was causing.
Then in the breath between two complaints, the Spirit of God convicted Wayne with these words — God spoke to his heart — “Wayne you are more concerned about the absence of your problems than you are concerned with the presence of Jesus.”
Gotta be honest, those words pierced my heart. Too often my prayers are requests for the removal of my problems. Too rare are my prayers request for more of the presence of Jesus. Too often my prayers are requests for God to bless my plans. Too rare are my prayers a request for the blessing of God’s presence. Too often I am looking for God’s power more than I desire God’s presence. In Psalm 37, the psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” That means if I love God’s presence, there is a better possibility that He will share His power. But more importantly it means, the more I love Jesus, the more I want Jesus.
What’s more important to you? The absence of problems or the Presence of Jesus? The answer to that question will shape the passion of your prayers.