Praying for Laborers

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ ” (Matthew 9:36-38).

God never gave a commission without a plan. These verses reveal a powerful plan that can expect great results. It goes like this: God loves people and wants them to come to Him. In order for that to happen, He needs laborers for the harvest. At this point, we sometimes make a mistake. We run out to recruit workers without first praying for God’s leading and blessing. Do we want workers who themselves are not prepared? We want people led by God and spiritually prepared to work in the harvest fields.

Notice what Jesus contrasts: the harvest and the laborers. The harvest is ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few. What is the solution? We need to seek God’s face and ask Him to supply more workers for the harvest. But first, let’s notice some key points:

1. Jesus had compassion on the multitudes.
We can only go so far when we’re motivated by duty alone. Soldiers who march off to war will fare better if they love their country rather than serve because they have to. Scientists in search of a miracle cure will labor more intensively if driven by a desire to relieve human suffering. Jesus felt compassion for the masses, as we should. Pray for workers filled with compassion for those wandering without a shepherd.

2. He directed His disciples to pray.
Jesus would also send out His disciples (see Matthew 10:1-15) and even commission them (and us) to proclaim the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). But He made a point that they pray for God to bless the harvest with workers. Imagine the effect prayer could have on our recruiting efforts in sending out people to reach others.

3. He told them to pray EARNESTLY!
A doctor may treat a light wound without giving it too much thought. But when called upon to perform a crucial surgery, he or she will apply the utmost care, knowing the consequences of a poor effort. Similarly, we need to pray for God to raise up an army to send into His harvest fields. This is a task that anyone can do. As we drive through our communities, why not pray for it, that God would reach it?

Finally, expect an answer from God. He no doubt will enlist us in the effort, using us each in places of His choosing. But God cares for His own harvest field. Let’s pray in faith, asking God to raise up workers to reach a world for Christ.

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