Before we moved away from the area where we grew up, I always enjoyed going to football games in the fall with my dad. Usually, we traveled in September to see a game, and because of where we went to see them, we traveled through the Mississippi Delta during the midst of the cotton harvesting time. Remembering the fields blossoming in white like they were covered in snow brings two things to my mind – time with my dad and Jesus’ words.
Matthew 9:36-38 is on my mind this evening. There, Jesus calls on us to pray that God would send laborers into the field for the harvest. I think this is something we don’t do frequently enough. Those in churches or ministries that lack workers often fret more than we pray. Other churches or ministries that have a lot of helpers may not see the need for even greater participation. With that in mind, several things jump out at me as I think about how to pray for these workers:
(1) Jesus’ instruction grows out of His compassion for the people He saw. They were, “dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36, NASB). Certainly, if Jesus saw these masses, and His compassion led Him to speak about the need for help, we, as Christ-followers, should feel the same compassion, and that compassion should drive us to action. Do you sense compassion for others in such a way that it drives you to pray for them?
(2) Second, it jumps out at me that Jesus mentioned the, “harvest is plentiful” (9:37). You know, that seems obvious at first glance. But there are many Christians who don’t actually see that the harvest is plentiful . . . that the fields are ready for a harvest. This is a great reminder for us to realize that there are so many hurting people out there, and there are so many who need to experience God’s mercy, grace and love through Jesus Christ. The fields are still ready . . . even more than during Jesus’ time, since there are so many more people in the world today. Do you realize the fields are still ready for harvest?
(3) Third, Jesus mentions that the workers are few (9:37). We have more people involved in the Lord’s work than ever before, and yet, still, the workers are few. Every Christian is called and gifted in some way to be involved in the Lord’s work. There is such a need for Christians to be involved in spreading the Gospel and plugging in to God’s work. How might you become involved in that work?
(4) Finally, we should have no fear, because God is truly the Lord of the harvest (9:38). It truly is all in His hands. What an incredible opportunity He gives us as He invites us to be involved in the harvest! As Jesus said in John 4:36, what a blessing it is to be involved, “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
Let’s ask God to grow our compassion for others. Let’s rejoice with others who are involved in the work of Christ, and let’s pray that others would get involved, too!