“Then he said to his disciples, ‘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’” (Matthew 9:37-38).
This banner hangs in my office at home. We bought it at a Christian scroll shop in China a few years ago. The hand-painted banner contains the Mandarin translation of Matthew 9:37-38 along with a painting of Chinese farmers bringing in the harvest.
The banner reminds me of a solemn, joyful truth.
The harvest is plentiful all over the world.
Right now, while you are reading these words, the harvest is plentiful in Finland, Slovenia, Thailand, Paraguay, Bangladesh, Iran, Libya, and, yes, the harvest is vast in China.
The problem has never been with the harvest.
The problem is with the workers.
We don’t have enough of them.
We’ve got good workers, hard workers, dedicated workers, kind, sincere, Christ-loving, gospel-preaching, Spirit-filled workers.
We just don’t have enough of them.
So the harvest rots in the field because there are not enough workers.
Jesus’ answer to this problem is not what we would expect. If these verses were rewritten for our generation, it would read something like this. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore . . .”
Let’s appoint a task force.
Let’s make it a trending topic on Twitter.
Let’s start a Facebook page.
But our way and God’s way are not the same way. We want to organize to get more workers for the harvest field, but Jesus said, “Pray earnestly.”
First we pray. Then we preach.
First we pray. Then we organize.
First we pray. Then we go.
Prayer comes first because the harvest belongs to the Lord. It is quite literally his harvest. He knows where the harvest is, he knows when it is coming in, he knows how many workers are needed, and he knows who is needed and when and where.
As we think think about the worldwide harvest, remember that Jesus is Lord of China, he is Lord of the Ukraine, he is Lord of Mauritania, and he is Lord of Vietnam. All the nations are his. So, then, let us pray with great confidence to the Lord of the harvest that he might send forth more workers. And while we are at it, why not ask the Lord to send us anywhere we might be useful to help bring the harvest in?
Lord of the nations, we see the vast harvest before us, ripening every day in every nation. Raise up workers for the harvest fields around the world. Send us anywhere you need us to help bring your harvest in. Amen.
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