Pray for Laborers

(Matthew 9:35-38) “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Years ago I was pastoring a church that was planning for revival meetings. The meetings were to start on a Sunday night at 6 o’clock. The evangelist was to preach at that meeting. 

His fight was to arrive at 3 o’clock and the revival service was to start at 6 o’clock. This would give us three hours to get to the church this would be enough time. At 2 o’clock he called me; his flight had been delayed and he would be on the next flight. At 3 o’clock he called me back again. He would be there around 5 o’clock. That would be too late for the 6 o’clock meeting. 

I did not think I would have to preach that night so I had not prepared. At that point, I opened my Bible and it opened at Matthew 9:35-38. I kept reading into the 10th chapter; (Matthew 10:1) “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”… (Matthew 10:5-7) “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  

Then I realized that Jesus had told his disciples to see the multitudes and have compassion on them “because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Then he had told the same disciples to pray for more laborers. Then he told the same disciples to go themselves. The disciples that pray for more labourers themselves became the labourers. And why not? They already had compassion for multitudes.

I preached this that night and God saved a young person that night.

I believe that this is a message that we need to hear today and take to heart and act on today.

Look and see and understand what it says to us. 

I. We are to see the multitudes and see the trouble they are in. They are in danger because they are faint, weak, and feeble. They are weak because they have lost their way. They lost their way because they do not have a shepherd. 

II. Then Jesus had compassion on the multitudes. (Compassion means, “A suffering with another”). Jesus suffers with others because he was a man and knew that the suffering of mankind when they were away from God is great. Mankind needs a shepherd just like sheep do. It may seem a small thing to you but to Jesus, it is life or death. Just like sheep, men need someone to show them the right way. There is only one way; Jesus called it the narrow way and “few there be that find it.” This is why men need a shepherd to show them the way.

III. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous”, he is saying two things here:

A. Many people are lost and could be saved if someone would preach the gospel to them.

B. Then he is saying that there are not enough laborers or shepherds for all that need to know the right way.

IV. Then Jesus tells them to: “Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” 

He is telling us to pray not that the multitudes be saved but that the Lord of the harvest will send more laborers into His harvest. Note that it is the Lord’s harvest, not our harvest. It is the Lord that will send the labourers into His harvest. 

I want you to see what is happening: Jesus sees the multitudes and He has compassion on them because He loves them. Then He tells us to pray to the Father for laborers. When one sees how many lost people there are one can get the feeling of being overwhelmed. But when this happens maybe Jesus is telling us to pray to the Lord of harvest for more help to gather in the harvest.

There is one more thing that Jesus tells them to do. He tells them to go (Matt.10:7). These are the same men that He told to pray. He is telling them to go and be shepherds. If you can see the lost multitudes and see the need for more laborers, maybe He is sending you to go and be one. After all, Jesus told us to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”(Mark 16:15).   

*Devotional written by Ralph Williams, retired pastor and member of One Hope Mobile.