A Prayer Straight from God's Heart that Calibrates Mine :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

A Prayer Straight from God's Heart that Calibrates Mine

Forrest McPhail
3:25 read

The Scripture is full of statements and illustrations of God’s love, mercy, and compassion for mankind. While God is holy, just, and righteous, Scripture clearly teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

New life through Jesus Christ begins the journey of learning to love God and others. As we mature in our faith, our love for others becomes increasingly like God’s love for them. The existence of God’s love in us gives evidence that we have genuine faith in Jesus (1 John).

It is love for God and His love in us that makes us willing to fulfill the Great Commission:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). [1]

All believers are commissioned by God to focus our lives on the specific task of making disciples of all nations until Jesus comes again.

So how do we grow in this love for God and others and move beyond seeing the Great Commission merely as a duty? Beyond the normal means of grace—reading God’s Word, prayer, and spiritual fellowships through the local church—God, in the Person of Christ, gave us a specific prayer that will transform our hearts to be like His.

A Command to Pray

In Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus commands us to pray for the great harvest of souls, to pray in particular that God would send out laborers to work in that harvest.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they were weary [faint, harassed, distressed, confused] and scattered [helpless, dejected, dispirited, downcast], like sheep having no shepherd.”

“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray [pray earnestly, beseech, plead] the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (alternate readings in brackets).

Why did Jesus give this command to pray for laborers? All God’s people have experienced God’s love in salvation and should know that genuine love for others leads to evangelism and making disciples, right? Why then is this command still needed?

We Need to Recalibrate

We are so easily distracted. We quickly devote our thoughts, time, resources, and energy to lesser things. Our priorities need constant realignment. Our cars need tune-ups, and tires need realigning. Machines need recalibrating. Computers and phones need maintenance and rebooting. The illustrations could go on. Believers in Jesus need the same. The specific prayer for laborers is used by the Lord to sharpen our focus on the Great Commission. It reminds us of the love of God for His world, the love that we are to have in Christ, love that moves us to pray and witness and go.

Some pastors in the Philippines were promoting this prayer focus. Every day, twice per day, and when the clock struck 9:36, they committed to pray for the harvest and for laborers. How might God work in our hearts if we had this habit?

We Need to Reevaluate

Each time we pray for the lost and ask God to set apart laborers for His harvest fields, God’s Spirit searches our hearts to see if we share His heart. Do we see the lost around us as Jesus did—in such a way to where we are filled with compassion at their glaring need? Upon feeling overwhelmed in His spirit, He immediately instructed His disciples to pray in this way. He wants us to be moved like He is moved by the multitudes.

Could it be that some of us are so frustrated or angry at sin abounding all around us that we are unable to feel compassion? Are we even apathetic about those facing eternal condemnation? Are our hearts moved like God’s? Are we moved to action like God is?

It is as though God our Commander asks us His soldiers for a report on whether we are busy fulfilling the commission He has given us. If we have not been witnessing for Jesus, we will experience conviction and realize our need to seek God’s love more fervently.

Every Thursday morning the GFA directors meet to pray for God to raise up laborers for His harvest. All who can attend physically in Greenville meet at the office, and the others join in on a video call. I confess that in those meetings I am often humbled by the Lord and need to reset my priorities.

We Need to Consecrate

When God’s people pray for the harvest, and especially for laborers, the question that arises in our hearts by God’s design is this: Am I willing to do whatever the Lord would have me to do in order to fulfill the Great Commission? Will I really go wherever God leads? Am I fulfilling God’s will for me right now?

God’s Spirit moves us toward total commitment through this prayer. Some He sets apart and sends to labor for the Gospel as their life calling.[2]

The words of Isaiah when he responded to the Lord’s call show this pattern:

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ And He said, ‘Go, and tell…’” (Isaiah 6:8-9a).


God in His wisdom knew that His Church needed this very searching and practical prayer. He knew that we need it continually as an important means of steering our hearts away from the world’s distractions and toward His love for the lost and His eternal purpose to use us to reach the nations. If we don’t pray this way in obedience to Christ, we lose a means of grace that God desires to use to make us more like He is.[3] This prayer keeps us coming back to our need to have compassion like Christ’s.


[1] All quotes are from the NKJV unless otherwise indicated.

[2] Romans 1:1; Acts 13:3; Ephesians 4:11-13

[3] See also 2 Timothy 2:1-6