Commanded To Pray For Laborers To Be Sent
The Bible verse that we read for today comes from Matthew chapter 9, verses 37 and 38. "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." If you ponder this verse, and you really think about it, it's kind of odd that Jesus would would say this. He's God, and He's telling us how to pray. He's telling us to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest. Yet, what we have here is also a command. As disciples of Jesus Christ, this is something we need to be obeying. We need to be praying to the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into His harvest. Lots of things actually can be said if we get into this verse, but here are just a few that come to mind in this moment.
So we see, first of all, there's a harvest that's plentiful. And that reminds us that all around the world today, hour after hour, day after day, the kingdom of God continues to grow. Though it seems small, it seems insignificant, and it seems like it's being snuffed out in certain parts of the world as we get the reports of pastors being put in prison in Canada, for example, and all kinds of troubling things coming towards Christians in the West. It could seem like nothing is happening, but the Lord does remind us, in any case, the harvest is plentiful. Hour after hour, day after day, all around the world, people are being saved. People are being evangelized. They're becoming aware of their sin, what it is before a holy and just and pure God, and how they stand condemned. They're becoming aware of their condition, and they're becoming aware, as people continue to evangelize, lost people are becoming aware of their need for a savior, their need for the Savior, Jesus Christ. The One who came and lived perfectly in our place, sinless Son of God, Son of Man, obeyed the law, fulfilled the law of God, satisfied God, God's holy law, being God in the flesh, and then He also died, as if He was a sinner, but He wasn't. (Innocent for the guilty, which is us.) He died in our place on the cross, shed his blood, poured out His blood, gave his life, died, rose again, ascended, and He's the Lord of lords, the King of kings, and He's reigning and He's ruling even now. He's calling people unto himself, and that happens when disciples are faithful to Jesus Christ and the call that He's given us to proclaim the word. He's continuing to effectually call people unto Himself. They're then born of His Spirit, and they hear the gospel, they understand their sin, they repent of their sin, they turn from their sin, they embrace Jesus Christ and by faith, by grace through faith, they are saved, they are redeemed, they are made into new creatures. Every day, this is happening all over the place. And so the harvest truly is plentiful! Month after month, year after year, decade, after decade, century, after century, this continues to happen. None of us knows how much longer it will continue to happen, but it's going to be happening until the return of the Lord.
He's calling people unto himself, and that happens when disciples are faithful to Jesus Christ and the call that He's given us to proclaim the word.
And then we see this other problem. The harvest is plentiful. We have a picture here of olives being harvested. Here in Italy, olives are very, very common, very popular. And there's lots of olive oil, and it's cheap, and you almost drink it like water. There's so much you put it in everything, and it's fantastic. It's actually good for you. So, here's the harvest, the harvest is plentiful, even in lands like Italy, where it doesn't always seem like it.
The harvest is plentiful. The problem is, as Jesus mentions here, the laborers are few... That's the problem. And why is that the problem? It's been that way since the beginning, obviously, for the Lord made it clear the laborers are few and we are to pray for this problem. We're commanded to pray that it doesn't remain this way. But for whatever reason, throughout history, and for a long time, the laborers have always been few. Maybe that's God's way. We can't all be missionaries. We can't all be going out, because then no one will be working hard, making good money, having extra money, sending it, sacrificing it, sending it into the church, so the church can send missionaries out. We can't all be going or there will be another problem. In any case, there still seems to be an imbalance of sorts that there's too few going. Perhaps too many of us, unfortunately, we get comfortable. We set up a life for ourselves. We have our own dream, our own purpose, and we pursue it and we go after it and the things of the Lord we like and we love that but it's kind of on the side. When it's convenient, then we entertain those things and we give to those things. Now we thank God we have many wonderful supporters, truly remarkable people that month after month, year after year, sacrifice and give to keep us here, going. They're equally involved in the ministry here with us every time I'm in the piazza evangelizing people and talking to them, engaging the lost, making disciples and all that we do. You're right here with us, and we're overwhelmed by that. We're humbled by that. It's fantastic. It's how it should be. You guys are a great example, those of you who are partnered in the ministry. But in any case, it seems too many get comfortable and don't consider the idea of being a laborer of the Lord and actually going. That's unfortunate. It ought not be that way.
We need a daily and a regular reminder that if we are saved, if we do belong to Jesus Christ now, we are redeemed. We've repented of our sin, we trusted in Christ, and we're now redeemed. Our life, as we read in First Corinthians, is not our own. We've been bought at a price. All of us would do good, would do well, to do a heart examination. How am I living today? The area of my finances, the area of my health, the area of my money, my job, what I pursue, what I do, my relationships, every aspect of my life? Am I living as if it belongs to Jesus Christ? Or am I living as if that belongs to me? My life, if I'm in Christ, is no longer my life. It belongs to Jesus Christ, and ultimately, he says, what I should be doing with my life. It's true for you as well, if you're in Christ. Consider that. How are you living today? I just had some heart checkup done on me personally, my physical heart, but it is good for all of us to be checking our heart and evaluating how we are living? Are we living in light of the gospel and who we are? As if Christ is Lord of our life, and our life belongs to him? Or are we not?
Perhaps too many of us, unfortunately, we get comfortable. We set up a life for ourselves. We have our own dream, our own purpose, and we pursue it and we go after it and the things of the Lord we like and we love that but it's kind of on the side.
A couple other things here that we can mention as we consider this verse as well. The situation is that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Now, here's what you do. Jesus says, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest. Who is the Lord of the harvest? He's the Lord of the harvest. God is the Lord of the harvest. He's one who before the foundation of the world has known those who are His, and the day and the purpose and the plan, He has it. He's never changing plans. He's never having to adapt. He's unfolding his plan day after day, year after year, century after century, until it's fulfilled. Pray earnestly to this God, our God, our Lord, the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into His harvest.
Have you have you prayed that prayer lately? Is it part of your family devotions? Are you praying for missionaries? Are you praying for others who God would raise up to send out as well?
This is something to consider, something to be praying about, and not to overlook or to forget. This is a command of the Lord.
Now, what's interesting here, though, is God is sovereign. We are reminded from this verse, I believe, that God is sovereign and knows all things. Before we even ask it, He already has the answer and, and He knows those who are His and He's calling His people unto Himself through faithful evangelists and witnesses, and so on. All that motivates us (because He is sovereign) to actually pray more and to pray more consistently. If you really get into what it means that God is sovereign, you realize that He knows all things, and yet He ordained that we should be praying, that we should be a praying people. Now, some would take this too far and become borderline fatalist, so to speak. They'd say that since He knows all things, He's unfolding his plan, and we have no power over things and He does, we can just let Him do whatever He wants. We can just sit back and watch the show. We could almost say that, except for the fact we have these clear commandments, just like we do here, to do something. To not do it means we're sinning against our Lord. The reality is, as we consider this, and the idea of praying in this case, and God's sovereignty is that God has foreordained that we should be praying. He has foreordained to move things and do things in this world, in this case, have missionaries equipped and sent out into the harvest through the praying of his people. God delights when His people devote time to prayer. God delights when His people spend time with Him in prayer, prioritize prayer, and do it together, and when we pray, according to His revealed will. As we see here, this is a revealed will of God for us, that we should be praying for laborers to be sent into His harvest.
The last thing I'd say here, that's good for us to remember is - "His harvest". The harvest is His, it really is His. You can do all the right things and see nobody saved. You can do all the wrong things and see many, many people get saved. Ultimately, even the harvest belongs to the Lord. He's sovereign over that as well. Through nobodies, He's happy to save lots of people. That should encourage us to be about the work of evangelism as well, knowing the harvest is His, and no one can stop Him from calling His people and drawing them unto Himself. When the Holy Spirit goes to work in the heart of a person, they feel the weight of their sin, they're tired, they're fatigued by their sin, they desire, what only Christ offers, deliverance, salvation, the setting of free the true life and the abundant life that is found in Christ alone. May God bless you, as you consider that today. That is our verse for today, and it's just a healthy reminder for us of one way we need not forget to be praying in our prayer time, and also the reality that we should be committing ourselves to prayer.
On top of that, I would ask you join us in prayer. We're praying this now in a regular way, daily. Our greatest need of the hour, I believe, is for more missionaries to be sent into this harvest here. I'm painfully aware of it day after day, that I cannot reach as many people as I want. PMc is set up, the foundation is laid, everything is in place, all that awaits us now is a group of more missionaries to come on board and labor hand in hand with us here on the field so we can increase exponentially our impact in this city. The harvest is plentiful, and now we're praying, Lord, send those laborers. We'd kindly invite you to join us in prayer for that, in particular, right here, laborers sent here, as well.
Written by Jesse Schreck
Taken from podcast episode 238 - Missions Moment May 2021