Jesus had one prayer request. It is that Laborers would be sent into the harvest. According to the Bible, the mission is God’s. It began in his heart, depends upon his power, and is implemented by his spirit working in us. That being said, we have responsibility when it comes to the Great Commission.
Our role is to obey what He told us to do! There’s no substitute for simple trusting obedience. Read with me Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew:
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Jesus had just ministered to a woman in the region of Samaria. She and her city had religion, but no relationship with God. More than that, these people were the outcasts and shunned by the Jewish Religious establishment of the day. However, revival began to break out in their city.
As crowds of people approached Jesus, he looked out and gave his disciples a succinct but powerful lesson. First, he opened with the problem which is summed up in two phrases:
- The harvest truly is plenteous
- But, the labourers are few
The harvest is a harvest of souls, people who are in need of Jesus and his saving power. There are people who will respond if they are only shown the Gospel and introduced to Christ. It is not necessarily a problem that the harvest is plenteous. In fact this statement should give hope to every believer and church. There are people who will get saved, there are those who will believe.
The problem is there aren’t enough people telling them. The laborers or those who will go out and pick up the fruit of the harvest are few.
Growing up, I had the privilege of gaining firsthand experience in harvesting. For a few summers in highschool, I worked on a blueberry farm as a picker. It is difficult to harvest blueberries mechanically because you have to make sure to only pick the ripe berries. Our farm hired dozens of pickers every season to pick the ripe berries by hand.
It was incredible to see how the harvest changed week to week throughout the summer. One part of the field would not quite be entirely ready, picking was slow because you had search for the ripe berries. However, another part of the field might be just ready to go! Those berries were fat and would roll right off the stem and into your hand.
There would always come a time in the summer when the harvest was in full swing. At that time, we simply would not have enough workers to pick all the fruit and you would find that some berries would fall and begin to rot simply because the weren’t picked in time.
Jesus told his disciples that it was prime time to harvest the field. The problem was that there weren’t enough workers.
Jesus gave the solution to this problem. Interestingly, he does not say the following:
- “Go work harder in the fields!”
- “We have to extend our shifts and pull nights and weekends.”
- “Set up a job fair and recruit workers.”
Jesus said pray.
What an underwhelming answer to a serious problem! There’s a harvest ready to be taken, but you want us to stop and pray for laborers? Isn’t there something more active we can do to fix this problem?
Jesus request does not make sense rationally. However, Jesus does not follow our simplistic logic and “rationality.” His answer is spiritual, right, and more effective than anything we can dream up. He says pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.
There are a few things built into this request that should teach us about missions:
- The work of the harvest belongs to God, he is the “Lord of the harvest”
- The recruitment of laborers cannot be accomplished apart from diligent prayer, God sends forth the laborers.
Missions is a spiritual work. That fact is often difficult for us to grasp because we want to bring natural solutions to a supernatural issue. What does God’s supernatural answer look like?
- We must fulfil our responsibility of carrying out the Great Commission.
- We must pray that God would raise up laborers to enter into the harvest
- We must be watchful to recognize the laborers that God has raised up so that they might be trained to become effective in God’s work.
- Our church must be prepared to give the hands-on training needed to the laborers that God has raised up.
Notice throughout this entire article, we have not dealt with money, methods, or ministries. Without laborers, none of those things matter. God’s work hinges on God’s people acting under the authority of God’s spirit to carry out God’s mission.
Will you play your part in God’s harvest?
Will you pray that God will raise up laborers to enter into His harvest?