PRAY TO THE LORD OF HARVEST
Adapted sermon by Gien-Hung Chen
– California, USA
JESUS UNDERSTANDS THE TIMES
Jesus went about
cities and villages, teaching in synagogues, preaching the gospel of the
kingdom, and healing every sickness and disease among the people.
He was moved with
compassion for the multitude because they were weary and scattered—like sheep
having no shepherd. He understood the people’s needs and He knew how to heal
dilemma He said to His disciples:
The harvest truly is plentiful,
but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into His harvest. (Mt 9:37-38)
As He attended to
the needs of the crowd, He also took time to teach His disciples to follow in
that those of us who are working hard for Him cannot possibly do everything or
fill every role in the church. So He asks us to pray that God will move the
hearts of others to come out to serve Him as His harvesters. This is also our
Jesus spent His time on this earth not only telling us to pray, but also
teaching us how to do so. In His darkest hour, when people were tired and
hopeless and the disciples slept, Jesus encouraged them not to be
disheartened—to pray and not give up.
We often focus on
God’s ministry by simply doing the work: going about the cities and villages,
busying ourselves at church, and wondering why there are only a few of us participating in the spreading of the gospel.
But do we truly
understand the times and the condition of the harvest and what it needs?
Actually, the Lord
knows the situation of the church and the world outside of it. He knows that
the laborers are few, so He reminds the few who are serving Him to do something
more than just the labor—He tells them to pray that the Lord of the harvest
would send out more laborers to help
Oftentimes, it is
we, the workers, who don’t understand the times, so our efforts are not in sync
with God’s plan. When our efforts to spread the gospel fizzles out, we get
discouraged and lose hope because we don’t see the fertile harvest as God sees
So what does He want
us to see?
In this short
command that He left with the disciples, we can learn much about what the Lord
requires of us as His workers so that we can effectively evangelize to all the
DO WE UNDERSTAND THE TIMES?
Harvest season is
arguably the jolliest time of the year. This is when all the workers and the
masters come out in celebration with song and dance; with wine and merriness.
After toiling under the hot sun to reap the fruits of the harvest, everyone
comes out to enjoy the works of their hands.
But the window of
time that the workers get to reap what they have sowed is not very long, and
the shorter the timeframe, the more valuable the product. For example, in the
state of California, sweet
peppers are extremely expensive because it is available only in the summertime,
whereas lettuce is very affordable because it can be found all year round.
This is the same way
with the Lord’s harvest; except He is reaping souls and not agriculture, and we
are the workers He has sent. This type of harvest is the rarest and most
valuable of all kinds, and the window of time He has given is very, very short.
And when it is over, there is no second season. This is the last one.
If we really
understood this grace period the Lord has given us to spread the gospel of
peace, our focus should be where the Lord directed—on prayer.
But many times, we
find that the workers focus too much on peripheral things: Which caterer to use
so visitors and friends can be well fed? Who can deliver the most
heart-piercing sermon? Who has the best voice to sing in choir?
These, of course,
are simply examples, but they should be taken into consideration should we
organize an evangelical event for people to come to listen to the gospel. But
if they occupy more time and energy and become the center of discussion than
the amount of time we spend praying to God, then it is time for us to examine
our direction and motives.
If we really understood
the times, we would spend more time sowing the seeds in our non-believing
friends and family; taking every opportunity to witness to them and to
intercede on their behalf.
We would be brave to
preach to our friends and colleagues at school or at work and to worry less
about how they might perceive us if they knew we were devout Christians. We
would not hesitate or withhold the message of salvation because we didn’t
personally think that a particular individual was ready—we would focus less on
ourselves and be able to see the needs of others.
If we realize that
there are masses still yet to receive Christ and that there is a shortage of
time , we would pray to God to find us helpers and coworkers to gather as much
of the harvest before it is too late.
We’ve discovered a
harvest far more valuable than sweet peppers, yet we often reap them like
SUMMON FOR GOD’S POWER
The first lesson on
prayer that the Lord Jesus taught was how to be selfless. The instructions He
left for His disciples as recorded in Matthew 9:37, 38 was for them to pray for
the laborers and not for themselves. He was emphasizing a selfless prayer.
Of course, Jesus is
not saying that we shouldn’t pray for ourselves. Indeed, a large part of the
content in the Lord’s Prayer is to pray for ourselves. But Jesus reminds us not
to forget the unselfish prayer: to pray for other workers.
But why did Jesus
ask such a peculiar prayer? Is it true that He doesn’t know that the harvest is
plenty? If He knew, would He not by default send the workers Himself? Why was
it necessary for the disciples and believers to remind God to do such an
Prayer is a mystery
and a power, and much of the effectiveness of church work is accomplished
through prayer. God knows that the harvest is plenty, but He also waits for our
When we pray, we
summon up God’s power and confess that the successes of the work of our hands
are not dependent on us or our own authority but on God’s. We also acknowledge
that the ripening harvest needs the Lord—the people of this world need God’s
grace and His salvation.
We need to pronounce
that the treasure of the gospel belongs to Him, and so do the harvest, the
laborers, the glory of the church, and everything else in between. When we do,
He will open up doors to help us complete His work. After all, it is “His
harvest,” and it is the Lord Jesus that gives the increase (cf. 1 Cor 3:6).
So when we pray for
the evangelistic work of the church, we shouldn’t underestimate the privilege
and authority that He has given us to ask in His name.
Signal Our Partners
The gospel of Luke
records the incident that convinced Peter to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
While Peter had already resigned to go home after having caught no fish for the
day, Jesus told him to launch his boat into the deep water and cast down his
net (Lk 5:1-4).
Though he was well
aware that his entire day’s experience had yielded nothing, he listened to
Jesus’ instructions. When he and his coworkers let down the net, however, it
caught a school of fish so great in number that it threatened to break the net.
So they signaled to their partners
in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the
boats, so that they began to sink. (Lk 5:7)
When we catch
souls, it is the same way.
Since He initiated
the latter rain almost one hundred years ago, the Lord has slowly opened doors
to places that the gospel could not reach before. As our time draws closer to
the end, we often find that we don’t have the means to catch all the lost souls
that He has guided to us.
Therefore, in an
effort to redeem each one, Peter called out instinctively for his partners to
help. We need to learn to do the same. We need to summon God’s power so He will
work with us; otherwise, we would catch no fish even if we tried on our own.
And they would always be slightly out of our reach though we wouldn’t
Thus, we ought to
do our part and go out and signal our partners to join us, and those that the
Lord of the harvest send for will heed our calling. When we truly understand
the times from God’s perspective, calling out for helpers becomes second
nature. The signal would be urgent, pressing, and beckoning.
HE OFFERED THE FIRST PRAYER
The Lord Jesus said
that we must first pray for His work, His kingdom and His righteousness. If we
truly delve into God’s work and pray for His kingdom and righteousness, then we
truly believe the promise that He gives us here—that the Lord of the harvest
will indeed send out workers into the field.
We need to ask God
to increase our faith, and we need to draw ourselves closer to and be united
with Him. Then our prayers will be heard. This is the promise that Jesus gives
time and again in the gospel of John. He said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in
the Son” (Jn ).
This is the kind of
prayer we have to offer as often as possible—that the Lord of the harvest send
out workers to reap what has been sown. Who is the Lord of the harvest? It is
Jesus Christ Himself who came as a human being for the sole purpose of planting
the seed and bringing the possibility of salvation.
Lord of the harvest has already set the example by offering the first prayer.
He was also the very first worker that our heavenly Father sent. But His work
has been completed (cf. Jn 17:1-4), and He has given us the authority to
continue what He left behind, as we see in His heart-wrenching prayer to His
I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the
world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they
have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the
words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known
surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I
pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours….As You sent Me into
the world, I also have sent them into the world. (Jn 17:6-9, 18)
If we feel that our
church needs more workers, then this kind of prayer is imperative, and we are
assured that this is the kind of prayer that God awaits. In fact, for the most
part, it is God who usually waits for us, though we often think we’re the ones
waiting for His timing. If we don’t pray, how can we summon up His power?
From the Lord Jesus’
intercession on our behalf, we see how much He loves us and how He has truly
given us a special status; making us heavenly royalty. Each of us is His
worker; therefore, all of us should exercise this privilege and resolve to
reach out to the people in this world—lost souls in search of God and His
gospel of peace.