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 (Manna 46: Spreading the Gospel)
Pray to the Lord of Harvest
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Adapted sermon by Gien-Hung Chen – California, USA


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 them.

Recognizing their 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 His footsteps.

Jesus understands 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 duty.

Very appropriately, 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 it.

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 nations.


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 lettuce.


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 important thing?

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 prayers.

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 understand why.

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.


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.

Interestingly, the 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 Father:

            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.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church