Passion for prayer

LIHUE — Miles McPherson was delighted to be the guest speaker at the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon on Saturday.

But long before he rose to talk to the crowd of about 1,000 people at Kilohana Luau Pavilion, he asked God what He wanted him to say. What message did God want delivered?

“What do you want me to do here? McPherson asked.

The answer came.

“I want you to talk to them about love,” McPherson said he was told. “I want you to talk to them about loving each other. I want you to talk to them about loving Kauai.”

So he did.

McPherson, who was a professional football player in the early 1980s, overcame drug addiction and is today the pastor of a thriving church in San Diego, gave a nearly hour-long presentation that ranged from humorous to heartfelt. He connected with his audience. Men and women laughed, smiled, bowed in prayer and raised their arms throughout the 12th annual event that ended with a standing ovation.

It was, McPherson noted, a crowd of believers. One man wore a shirt that said, “Training with Jesus.” A woman’s tattoo referred to the book of Hebrews. Other participants said “Yes” and “Amen” as McPherson exhorted those before him to yell “Jesus” in response to “Who’s the man?”

The event was marked with prayer, as different pastors led prayer for different areas. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who welcomed everyone there, was the focus of prayers, too, as he came on stage.

But it was love that McPherson hammered home.

“As beautiful as Kauai is, it means absolutely nothing without love,” he said.

His message connected with the crowd.

Organizer Pastor Rock Sasaki said McPherson was forthright.

“He was speaking on the same level to each and every one of us,” Sasaki said. “He was talking right to us.”

Colin Martin, a visitor from Colorado, attended with his wife.

“I loved what he had to say, especially about loving people who irritate us,” Martin said. “That’s not easy to do, but we’re called to do it. I guess I’ll have to try harder.”

McPherson was a defensive back in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers from 1982 to 1985. During his career, he began using drugs, staying out and chasing women.

“We were told, the more fun you had, the more parties you went to, the happier you would be,” he said.

He became addicted to cocaine, but overcame it, McPherson said, when he committed his life to Christ.

In 2000, he started Rock Church that today has nearly 20,000 people attending its four campuses.

The husband and father of three said pastoring a large church, having many ministries and knowing famous people “is absolutely meaningless” without love.

Loving people, he said, is more important than studying the Bible and having knowledge.

“Love to me is God’s heart in my chest expressing itself to every person that I met. It compels me,” he said. “That is the standard.”

He asked how often people talk to someone and think, “This person is really irritating me.”

Hands rose.

“You know that God compels you to love them,” he said. “You know what God thinks? ‘I love him.’”

Walking with God is a battle, McPherson said, just as loving people is a battle. And the devil, every day, is going to try and make you give up and do what’s easy, he said.

But don’t, he warned.

“Love is the most powerful commitment you can make,” McPherson said.

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