A Prayer That Must Be Prayed
Robert Wurtz II
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.
Our passage contains an urgent command from our Lord: therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. It is pressing because souls are at risk, and time is running out. It is commanded because many who are called into the work are not answering the call. Imagine having a secular job and there is a massive task to be performed. When you arrive on site you see the work that needs to be done; and yet, there are very few laborers to perform it. What would you do? That’s right; you would get on the phone to the management and insist on getting more workers.
The Harvest is a metaphor for the vast amount of people who are ready to hear the Gospel, and “be reaped into the Kingdom.” This great (plentiful and abundant) harvest is brought into the Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As with any harvesting, the process involves labor and dedication. You will notice that our Lord gives instruction to those who were witnessing the vastness of the harvest firsthand. As if He were asking them, “Do you see all of these people? There are so many of them, but so few of us.” This is the basis upon which we are to pray that the Lord of the Harvest (The Father) would send forth His laborers into His harvest. The idea is not that the Lord of the harvest would create new laborers, but exercise His authority in sending forth the laborers He has already raised up to be in His service. He has been working on these workers since birth — preparing them for His work. All of his or her life experiences will serve as training for the particular field that He calls them to. Unfortunately, many feel the call, but have no urgency to get about the work. This is where our prayers come in.
An Abundant Harvest
The prophet Jonah is an example of a person who was called to do a work for God, but ran away from it. He had his reasons. The Assyrians were among the meanest and most merciless people on earth at the time. One of their capitol cities was Nineveh. The King’s palace was adorned with murals depicting their war conquests and its accompanying brutality. Jonah didn’t want these people to have mercy, but God did.
It is sometimes believed that their are few who desire to repent and believe in our times, but this is clearly not the case. The harvest is always ripe, and there are many who would believe, but there are few who desire to labor in preaching. Ministering the Gospel is work, but more than work. It is a dangerous proposition when done properly. The Lord will say later, “I send you as sheep among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) Read that slowly. Sheep among wolves? That sounds dangerous; even a bloodbath. Nevertheless, ministry in the Lord’s Harvest requires that we set aside ourselves to perform God’s will.
Thrust Them In
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)
Our English translation does not rightly capture the urgency of the situation when it translates the Greek word ekballo as “send forth”. The word literally means to eject, drive out, cast forth, etc. It comes from a root that means to throw. It is the same root word used to describe how Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and in numerous places to describe casting out devils or casting a person into hell. I don’t think it an imposition on the text to say that we are to pray that the Lord would order the laborers out into the fields as would a manager or an owner order his workers to do a job. This is not a slapdash request, but a direct order. Souls are at risk. Harvests must be reaped in a timely way, or they can be lost. Storms can come and ruin a harvest. This is lost opportunity. There is no time for delay. We are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to drive His workers forth into the fields.
Not Just for Preachers
It goes without saying that God has called all of His people to labor in the fields in some capacity. Nevertheless, we sometimes suffer from a mental block here. We live in a time where everything seems to be left up to the “professionals.” That is to say, the mentality is often to hire a professional plumber or electrician. Hire a professional mechanic or clean-up person. This may be appropriate to work on things that are technically beyond our ability, but in the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as a “professional minister” in this sense. We are all called to minister the Gospel. What says the scripture:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
(1 Peter 3:15)
Full of Grace and Power
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Acts 6:8-10)
Here is a man who was waiting tables and doing miracles. He set his heart to do whatever God called him to do, and before he knew what happened, he had the full attention of the Devil. Obviously, he was ministering the Gospel to the people, and God was confirming what he was saying with signs and wonders following. He didn’t have a platform or a microphone. He was just sharing what he understood to be true. He was no theologian, scribe, or Pharisee. He was a common man, full of the Spirit and faith. He was willing to be used of God. In fact, he was so full of the Holy Spirit that ministry was natural to him. His ministry was the overflow of his relationship with God. As the Prophet once stated, “It was like fire shut up in his bones” and he could not hold his peace.
Why God Sends Revival
When the Lord Jesus spoke of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1, He said “and you shall be witnesses unto Me.” Many times over the centuries God has poured out His Holy Spirit. He has done this, for one reason, as one minister put it, to reset the moral default settings in society. However, God also intends that His outpouring have the effect of thrusting His laborers into the Harvest Field. In my relatively short life I have seen many outpourings of the Spirit. After a while, I began to notice something; if the people did not get about the Harvest, the move of God would die down to nothing. In time, I came up with a theology about it that demonstrates God’s desire to make His people “witnesses” by pouring His Spirit upon them. Is this not what He has always done to prepare a person for His service?
Nevertheless, many receive the Spirit or a touch of God and do nothing with it that is meaningful. It is just another “spiritual experience” for them. Sometimes I think folks would do almost anything but go out in the fields to work. In fact, we do a lot of things that we think are spiritual; but the truth is, God is interested in getting His Harvest in. His focus is on building the Kingdom of God. Heaven rejoices as we reap down the fields. If we continue to major on the minors, we dishonor God and put His Harvest at risk. In this evil generation, we suffer from serious priority issues. Jesus died so that people can be born again. Think about it. What is the book of Acts about? Did they spend all of their energy on conferences, meetings, and concerts? No. The book of Acts is about men and women who went into His Harvest, filled with the Holy Spirit, and did their part. This is the Holy Spirit’s primary goal. Everything else is secondary.