If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, skip to the big words at the end for my conclusion and your assignment.
Today as I reread Matthew 9:35-38, it hit me that I have been praying incorrectly and even disobediently. For the better part of my time at Oakland Presbyterian Church, I’ve been praying that God will send us the people who need to hear each sermon. I drive around Cleveland and pray for each subdivision as I pass, “Lord, I pray for Summerset Place. I ask you to reveal yourself there, to work in the hearts and minds of families there, to bring them to Christ. I pray you will use Oakland to shine a light in that place. I claim it for you, as part of your Kingdom, that should and will recognize you as Lord and Savior.”
Not that there is anything wrong with praying for lost people or praying for hurting people or asking the Lord for opportunities to share the gospel and alleviate suffering. We should pray for those things, and even more so, do those things. Still, in Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus says plainly, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
What does Jesus plainly, explicitly tell me to pray for? For people to come or for atheists to become believers? No, he says, “Ask the Lord to send out workers into his harvest.” Jesus says that the harvest is already full, and yet I have spent the majority of my time praying for the harvest to come. Jesus tells me to pray God will send workers into the field.
Honestly, I have not been praying this way. I’ve been living as if we’re mid-summer and the harvest is dubious, and so I’ve been praying for a harvest that might fail. But Jesus (Thank God for those 2 Words) assures me that the harvest is PLENTIFUL and more than the workers can handle.
The Harvest exists. It is here. It is real. It is not in doubt. God has provided a HUGE Harvest. It is not a few people, it is more than every existing church in Cleveland can hold. God has people ready to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has people ripe for faith. But there are two potential problems we must combat in prayer:
- Not enough harvesters – we need more workers, more laborers that know how to harvest, that know how to share the gospel, that know how to make disciples who make disciples, that know who to tell if a person is ripe for faith in Jesus, that know how to delicately “pick” people. We need more laborers, not more hard work, but more laborers. Pray to God to send out skillful Laborers.
- Harvesters Not IN the field – I worry that there are harvesters, but they are sitting in the shade resting or in the barn tinkering. They are inside the house watching football. They are too distracted and comfortable and busy. We need harvesters IN THE HARVEST FIELD. Harvest is a hectic time, running wide open to collect as much fruit as we can before it spoils. It is not time to be doing maintenance or optional upgrades. It is not time to paint the barn or build barns or order materials for next year. During harvest only harvest essential tasks are done; only mission-critical tasks are done. Jesus needs more people IN THE FIELD. Actually harvesting. Pray to God to SEND OUT harvesters INTO THE FIELD. Send them out. Send them into the field. If you ran a farm at harvest and your workers where anywhere but in the field harvesting, you'd kick their butts into gear, or you'd fire and replace them with actual laborers.