Praying in Faith for Laborers :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Praying in Faith for Laborers

Andrew Minnick
3:17 read

When Jesus was overwhelmed with compassion for the multitudes of shepherdless sheep in Matthew 9, His solution was that His disciples would pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. So how often do we pray for laborers? Not very often? Why not very often? Perhaps it is because we think that Jesus’ plan won’t work. Sure, on paper we would say that God answers prayer, but does our actual practice reveal a lack of faith?

God does answer prayer for laborers.

Praying_in_Faith_for_Laborers.jpegRecently someone in our church came to me and wanted to show me a picture. He pointed to the date on the page—January of 2022, almost two years ago. Our pastor had been challenging us in the words of Thomas Goodwin to “watch for the return of our prayers.”  Goodwin meant that praying in faith is like a merchant who doesn’t just send out his ships to faraway lands and then forget about them. No, in faith he scans the horizon for their return.

This friend wanted to show me that almost two years ago he began praying very specifically that God would lead our family to serve at BJMBC (Bob Jones Memorial Bible College in Manila). He was now delighted to see a return of his prayers. This friend is not a recruiter for GFA. He is just a believer in God’s faithfulness to answer prayer for laborers. Many years ago he tried to go to the mission field himself, and after God closed that door, he took up the ministry of praying for laborers.

Will we pray in faith for laborers?

There is a challenge for us here—will we pray in faith for laborers? I mean really: tomorrow morning when we wake up, will we begin a lifelong daily habit of praying this request? For the sake of souls dying without Christ and for the sake of the glory of God, will we daily beseech the Lord of the harvest to send shepherds to the shepherdless people in every part of this dark  world? Jesus commands us to practice this ministry of prayer because God intends to answer. So will we, like the friend above, allow our confidence of answers to shape the prayers themselves? Will we narrow the general request for laborers to praying very specifically by name for those around us to be sent out?

Older saints, will you commit to pray specifically?

Although God does sometimes lead older folks to the mission field, in this challenge there is a unique ministry for older folks not able to go. Older saints, will you, like the friend above, pick out the names of younger people in your church—the children, the teens, the young adults and young couples—and pray for them by name that God would send them out? Parents, will you pray specifically by name that God might make your children laborers in the harvest? Grandparents, will you pray this request for each of your grandchildren? God probably does not want all those for whom we pray to go across the oceans, but surely He wants to send some, and so we can confidently pray specifically.

Will we pray for laborers, including ourselves?

But beyond praying that others might be sent as laborers, there is a second challenge for us here. Imagine with me a first century farmer’s field where laborers are working to bring in the harvest but realize there is not sufficient time to finish before winter. So the laborers come to the owner of the field—the lord of the harvest—and ask him to hire more help. The owner, however, responds, “Yes, but you guys have been coming to work at 10 a.m. and leaving at 3 p.m. and taking a two-hour lunch break, and what little time you are actually working, you only give half your effort.” I think we can see that the request for more laborers is in some senses valid only if we ourselves are busy in the harvest. So here is a second challenge: will we pray this request for ourselves?

Will we pray, “God, make me a laborer in the harvest of my hometown”? Even if God has not called us to the mission fields of the world, He has called all His people to rise above the pursuit of the American dream and to realize that it is not our calling in life to accumulate wealth. Our calling is to introduce shepherdless people to our Shepherd. If wealth comes to us along the way, then so be it: it is God’s blessing. But accumulating the things of this world is not the mission. It’s just stuff. And if we are living for the stuff of this world, are we really in a position to confidently beseech the Lord of the harvest for laborers?

No amount of stuff here is worth the eternal loss of souls.

In addition to praying for grace to be busy in the harvest of our hometown, will we also pray, “God, send me out into a dark corner of this world”? Beyond just being willing to go, would you dare to start beseeching the Lord of the harvest to send you out? Again, God does not want everyone to go across the oceans, and He will have no problem answering “no” if that is not His plan. But will we pray this request for ourselves, because what higher privilege could there be than that God would answer “yes” and send us to a place where people have never even heard the sweet name of Jesus? There is a world of people out there dying without Christ and burning forever. No amount of stuff here in this life is worth the eternal loss of those lives.

So here are two challenges: Will we commit to pray specifically for laborers to be sent into the harvest? Will we begin to pray, “Here am I, Lord, please send me”?