“A Harvest Prayer”
October 1, 2015
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“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.
Last night I spoke to Mike and JoAnna for a few minutes. They lead the youth ministry in our church and have some challenges. No surprise there, in a world where young people are besieged with darkness, they are seeking to shine the light of Christ as they labor in the harvest field.
We are in the midst of autumn harvest time here in rural Lancaster County. Over the last several days our neighbor Leon has been harvesting the corn grain and then we saw his son Janden driving through chopping up the remaining husks with a double-wide brush hog. (Brooksyne’s dad would sure like to have had one that big.) It sure makes for some interesting sights and sounds in our neighborhood.
We look forward to the harvest season every year. Of special interest to us are the many colorful decorations. Some of them we share of the Union Mill Acres which has quite a variety of squash, pumpkins, gourds, apples, mums and other fall produce.
But today we want to share a focus on the spiritual harvest and a prayer that Jesus instructed the disciples to pray.
In our daily text Matthew described the nature of Jesus’ ministry, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
His response as He looked out upon the crowds is one of the most transparent verses concerning the heart of our Lord. “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
This verse and example of Christ teaches us:
- The motivation for genuine ministry is compassion. “He had compassion for them.” A simple definition of compassion in English is a “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings of others.” Spurgeon writes, “The original (Greek) word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels—a yearning of the innermost nature with pity.”
- The ultimate need is people who are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Looking around our world today at the people we may personally encounter as well as all we observe this is still the case. We see it regularly in our chaplain service. We are careful with personal illustrations lest a confidence may seem violated yet we regularly hear stories.
“Then He said to his disciples.” This was a memorable teaching moment that surely impacted them long after He returned to heaven, so much so that Matthew recorded it in the Holy Scriptures. As they sought to fulfill the Great Commission I am sure this challenge often came to mind and was a recurring theme for sermons the disciples preached.
“The harvest is plentiful.” Farmers strive for a good harvest. In seedtime they labor with the goal of having a plentiful harvest. Christ looked out on the vast fields of the human harvest and saw plenty. I feel this is one of those statements that is always true; at the time He said it and ever since. The harvest is always plentiful. Elsewhere Jesus had said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
“But the workers are few.” He had worked with twelve disciples and others, such as the Seventy, who served with Him during His ministry on this earth. Nevertheless He stated “the workers are few.” This is an ongoing condition in the church. Local churches may have specific positions filled, but we realize our inadequacy when we acknowledge that the harvest field is the world.
“O Lord of the harvest, send out workers into Your harvest field.”
1) The harvest prayer is a simple prayer to memorize. In fact every reader could memorize it in a few minutes. This is a prayer for all ages, from youngest to oldest. It is a lifelong prayer.
2) The harvest prayer is a simple prayer to understand. Even those far removed from agriculture know that the harvest takes workers. Surely there were more needed in ancient farming practices, but even when using modern farming methods many workers are needed. It may be the worker in a New Holland factory making the equipment. It may be a local farm equipment mechanic like my neighbor Leon. But there’s still work in the fields and scores of farmers are now at work bringing in the harvest. Likewise modern evangelism methods such as the internet have not diminished the need for workers.
3) The harvest prayer is a simple prayer to appropriate. Certainly this prayer is not to be prayed in a detached formal manner but rather with a personal willingness to do our part as a worker in the harvest. The early disciples surely didn’t see this prayer as an excuse for not working in the spiritual harvest fields themselves. Likewise we all have a call to serve in some capacity as a worker. Our failure to do so is not because it is too hard, for God equips those He calls.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: “O Lord of The Harvest, send out workers into Your harvest field.” So much spiritual work awaits those whose hearts are drawn to eternal truths, to God’s commands, and to Christ’s provision of salvation. Lord, You are not willing that any should perish but that all would have eternal life through Christ Jesus who gave His all that we might have forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven for all eternity. We are confident that You will equip those who have replied, “Yes, I will be a worker of the spiritual harvest by sharing the gospel with those who have not yet heard the claims of the gospel.” I can do all things through Christ who enables me in such a worthy endeavor. Amen.
Yesterday Union Mill Acres had a large variety of colorful pumpkins and gourds on Elizabethtown Road.
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