“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.”
In the above verse Jesus teaches us how to pray. But I’m afraid that our focus many times is on what we are to pray for rather than how we are to pray. Which leads me to ask…
Could it be we’re not working hard enough in God’s harvest fields?
Many people work hard and see results from their efforts. Their needs are met, they enjoy a sense of satisfaction, it makes them feel pretty good about themselves and they generally enjoy life.
We know that in order to be successful in life we must work and work hard! But what about the church? Does the same principle apply to the church?
Take another look at the verse above. Jesus begins by laying out the facts:
- The harvest is plentiful
- The laborers are few
Next Jesus tells us what our response to these facts must be:
- Pray to the Lord of the harvest
- Pray that laborers would be sent into the harvest
I’m afraid that for all of the times that I have read this verse, and even preached on this verse I have overlooked two very important words:
Let me correct my oversight.
First Jesus tells us that when we pray we are to pray “earnestly”. Earnestly means “to ask for with urgency”, it means to be “characterized by or proceeding from an intense and serious state of mind”.
When I think of urgency I think of calling 911. I need help and I need help right now. There is no time to waste. Your husband is having a heart attack are you going to wait to make the call for help? I hope not! Your child has been hit by a car and lies bleeding in the street are you going to wait to call 911 or are you going to call them as soon as possible? And if help doesn’t arrive right away are you going to quit calling or are you going to keep calling until the call is answered and help is on the way? The obvious answer is you are going to call and call and call until help arrives.
Do we pray that way for the harvest? Do we pray with a sense of urgency? Do we pray earnestly? Do we understand and really truly believe that every person who dies without coming to a genuine saving knowledge of Jesus Christ dies and goes to Hell where they will suffer eternally? It’s not pleasant to think about is it? And perhaps that’s why we don’t pray with a sense of urgency. Hell is tough to think about especially if we have unsaved family members or people we work with every day that are our friends. The horrors of hell are hard to comprehend, yet that does not change their reality. Because hell is real, and because the judgment of God is coming shouldn’t we have the same sense of urgency as we would if our child lay dying in the street?
Second Jesus tells us that we are to pray earnestly, urgently, and intensely that God would send laborers into his harvest.
Let’s think about the word “laborers”. What does a laborer do? What does the word labor imply? It implies hard work! Literally it means “to strive or effect or achieve”. In other words labor is hard, labor isn’t easy.
What do we say about a woman about to give birth? We say that she is in “labor”. I don’t know any woman who has given birth that would say that it was easy or enjoyable!
What’s my point? Are we working hard in God’s harvest fields? Are we feeling the pain of intense effort in making disciples? Are we shedding any tears in our labor?
Could it be that the church as a whole is not seeing the results it could if we began to pray earnestly and labor intensely?
Something to think about isn’t it?
But here is the real question What are you going to do about it?