Why the Labourers Are
By Evangelist Paul Mershon
October 28, 2009
“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”
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:1-2).
I read in "Far North in India" [about 1930] the statement by a former missionary in India, Dr. W. B. Anderson, that a hundred million people in India to-day have not heard of Jesus Christ, and as things are now, have not the remotest chance to hear about Him. There are other millions in Africa and other countries in the same Christ-less ignorance. Why is it so? Because prayer closets are deserted, family altars art broken down, and pulpit prayers are formal and dead! Bible schools and seminaries can never supply the workers needed. My own sainted mother prayed as a young girl that the doors of the heathen countries might be opened. Afterwards as the mother of ten children (eight of whom grew to manhood and womanhood), she prayed for laborers to enter these open doors, and God sent one of her sons to India and two of her daughters to China. Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice prayed, and when the Great Apostle to the Gentiles was about to take his departure he could lay his hands on son Timothy and commission him to "Preach the Word!" John Hyde was an answer to prayer, and when in other years he prayed in India, God raised up scores of native workers in answer to his prayers. The Great Head of the Church has provided one method for securing laborers. He said, “. . . 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.” (From a Biographical Sketch on Missionary John Hyde – “Praying Hyde”)
The Lord frequently taught His disciples that they must pray and how they should pray. But He seldom told them what to pray. This He left to their sense of need and the leading of the Spirit. But in the above scripture He expressly directs them to remember one thing. In view of the abundant harvest, and the need for reapers, they must cry to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers. Just as in the parable of the friend at midnight, He wants them to understand that prayer is not to be selfish; it is the power through which blessing can come to others. The Father is Lord of the harvest . . . we must pray for Him to prepare and send laborers for the work.
Why does He ask His disciples to pray for this? Could He not pray Himself? Would not one prayer of His achieve more than a thousand of theirs? Is God, the Lord of the harvest, not aware of the need? And would He not, in His own good time, send laborers without the disciples' prayers? Such questions lead us into the deepest mysteries of prayer and its power in the Kingdom of God. The answer to such questions will convince us that prayer is indeed a power on which the gathering of the harvest and the coming of the Kingdom do in very truth depend . . . .
. . . . How little Christians really feel and mourn the need of laborers in the fields of the world, so ripe for the harvest. How little they believe that our labor supply depends on prayer and that prayer will really provide "as many as he needeth." The dearth of labor is known and discussed. Efforts are sometimes made to supply the need. But how little the burden of the sheep wandering without a Shepherd is really assumed in the faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth the laborers in answer to prayer. Without this prayer, fields ready for reaping will be left to perish. And yet it is so. The Lord has surrendered His work to His Church. He has made Himself dependent on them as His Body, through whom His work must be done. The power which the Lord gives His people to exercise in heaven and earth is real; the number of laborers and the measure of the harvest does actually depend on their prayer . . . .
. . . . We believe too little in the power of prayer to bring about definite results. We do not live close enough to God to be capable of the confidence that He will answer. We have not surrendered entirely to His service and Kingdom. But our lack of faith will be overcome as we plead for help. Let us pray for a life in union with Christ, so that His compassion streams into us and His Spirit assures us that our prayer is heard.
Such prayer will obtain a twofold blessing. There will first be a desire for an increase in the number of men entirely given up to the service of God. That there are times when men actually cannot be found for the service of the Master as ministers, missionaries, or teachers of God's Word is a terrible blot upon the Church of Christ. As God's children make this a matter of supplication in their own circles or churches, it will be given. The Lord Jesus is now Lord of the harvest. He has been exalted to bestow the gifts of the Spirit. He wants to make gifts of men filled with the Spirit. But His supply and distribution of these gifts depend on the cooperation of the members with Him. Prayer will lead to such cooperation and will stir those praying to believe that they will find the men and the means for the work.
The other blessing will be equally great. Every believer is a laborer. As God's children, we have been redeemed for service and have our work waiting. It must be our prayer that the Lord would fill all His people with the spirit of devotion, so that no one may be found standing idle in the vineyard. Wherever there is a complaint about the lack of fit helpers for God's work, prayer has the promise of a supply. God is always ready and able to provide. It may take time and importunity, but Christ's command to ask the Lord of the harvest is the pledge that the prayer will be heard. "I say unto you, he will arise and give him as many as he needeth."
This power to provide for the needs of the world and secure the servants for God's work has been given to us in prayer. The Lord of the harvest will hear. Christ Who taught us to pray this way will support the prayers offered in His Name and interest. Let us set apart time and give all of ourselves to this part of our intercessory work. It will lead us into the fellowship of that compassionate heart of His that led Him to call for our prayers. It will give us the insight of our royal position as children of the King whose will counts for something with the great God in the advancement of His Kingdom. We will feel that we really are God's fellow-workers on earth, that we have earnestly been entrusted with a share in His work. We will become partakers in the work of the soul. But we will also share in the satisfaction of the soul as we learn how, in answer to prayer, blessing has been given that otherwise would not have come.
Lord, teach us to pray. (From, Prayer Provides Laborers, by Andrew Murray)
In Matthew 9:37-38, the Lord Jesus clearly identifies the problem when He said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” Then He provides the solution to the problem when He told His disciples to “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” To me it is quite evident that there were two distinct problems established here. First of all, there was a shortage of labourers called of God and prepared to take the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Though the harvest was truly plenteous, and the fields were “white (ripe) already to harvest,” yet there were few who willing to go “. . . into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” This was the result of the second problem, a lack of prayer on the part of God’s people. The command, not the suggestion, was “Pray YE therefore the Lord of the harvest, that HE will send forth labourers into HIS harvest.” It is abundantly clear to me that the labourers come from the Lord of the harvest and not from any other source. It is God, and God alone, Who raises up and calls the labourers to the harvest fields, and it is through the fervent prayers of the saints that their numbers are increased. The labourers will be few when there is a distinct lack of prayer for more men to go and take the message of forgiveness and redemption through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to a world lost in sin and darkness. And keep in mind that when you go to the Lord and ask Him to raise up labourers for the harvest fields, you should always be willing to do it yourself should God so lead and direct. Remember, the Lord Jesus sent into the harvest the very men He asked to pray for more labourers.
When is the last time you and I attended a prayer meeting, any prayer meeting, where voices were lifted up to God crying out to Him for more labourers for the harvest fields. We speak of the need in missions conferences, and there has never been a lack of preaching in missions conferences on the text at hand. But how often do we stop talking about the content of Matthew 9:37 and 38 and get down on our faces before God and plead with Him, both corporately and individually, for more labourers for the harvest? Is it not true that many of our meetings, most of our church services, many of our ministry endeavors, and even what we call our prayer meetings, are actually lacking in real, meaningful seasons of prayer? When is the last time you were in a corporate prayer meeting and heard some dear saint labor in agonizing prayer, crying out to the Lord of the harvest for more Spirit-gifted, God-called, God-sent men who will count the cost, be willing to pay any price, and will go anywhere to tell others of God’s saving grace? Have we actually disobeyed what the Master commanded us to do in seeking Him for labourers, or have we modern Christians generated labourers for the harvest fields some other way, and through our own means and devices?
I am convinced that there is noshortage of labourers amongst our people today. It is my personal belief that our churches are full of un-awakened and un-surrendered labourers. Only the prayers of the saints will move the hearts of those God would choose to send. Even as you bow your knees before God crying out to Him for more labourers for His harvest, it may well be that He calls you, my dear friend!
Let us plead with God through thepowerful agency of prayer for more labourers for the harvest fields. May our local assemblies set aside special seasons of corporate prayer seeking the face of God for more true God-called servants who will go to a lost world with the Good News that Jesus saves. May we be obedient to do exactly what Jesus has commanded, not merely suggested, that we do. Let us pray!