“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus taught his disciples that they should pray and he taught them how they should pray. Rarely do we find instruction on what the disciples should pray about however, which makes this passage very important.
- Why does Jesus ask his disciples to pray for laborers when it would seem that it would be much more effective if he had prayed for more laborers?
Consider what Andrew Murray writes:
How little [Christians] believe that our labor supply depends on prayer and that prayer will really provide “as many as he needs.” … How little the burden of the sheep wandering without a Shepherd is really translated into faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth the laborers in answer to prayer.
Murray identifies two reasons why we don’t obey Jesus’ command to pray for laborers. Do you think this is an accurate assessment?
- We do not have the compassion and heart for the lost that Jesus did
- We do not believe in the power of prayer enough to expect results to this prayer
In most churches 80% of the labor is done by 20% of the people. If your church is even twice as well off as the average church, 60% of your church is relatively inactive. We do not lack for numbers, we lack for laborers. This is frustrating for the pastor as well as other dedicated members. Nevertheless, it is a fact that is unlikely to change. We are held accountable for what we do and God will bless the work we do if others join us or not.
Consider what was accomplished by the work of twelve men who worked to spread the gospel. They did a lot of work by themselves but they were ultimately successful because they trusted God to provide men and women to continue the work they had started in a church. If you had twelve such people who were committed to praying for laborers many great things could be accomplished within your church as well.
Lack of Labor or Wrong Program?
When we see that there is a lack of workers we must go before God in prayer and trust that He will provide according to His will. Sometimes this will require patience on our part because what we perceive as a lack of workers God may not see as a need. Just because one church is successful with a certain type of ministry does not mean that this is a need within your church as well. Or it could be. We must pray for wisdom and trust God to provide the laborers at the appropriate time.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer