Then he [Jesus] 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 9:37-38
As a city girl, I do not have experience with the agrarian way of life and yet I am grateful for the veggies and fruit I eat (on a healthy choice day!). I admire the toil of farmers and applaud their success in growing crops which keep our society nourished. Even though there may be glitches of availability at times, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live through widespread famine.
Famine occurs when there’s extreme scarcity of food which means no immediate change can happen unless the conditions like increased rain improve. This is a dead end for the farmer and those who participate with him in growing the crops. They are stuck, and the only remedy when crops fail is prayer and seeking locations where food is available.
On the other hand, let’s consider a famine of people. What if the scarcity isn’t in the growth of the crops but the labor? What if the crops are ready to yield food and there are simply not enough hands to gather? Those who labor go out to the fields and give of their sweat to pick the crops. Sadly, at the end of the day, they look upon the fields which are ready for harvest and yet without help, the crops will wither and die.
Jesus, addressing the agrarian culture in his day, compares the agricultural harvest to the spiritual harvest in Matthew 9:37-38. He says the spiritual harvest is not only ripe, but of great quantity. Many people are ready to belong to His heavenly kingdom. Yet the reality of the abundant harvest is hindered by too few laborers. People are withering and dying without knowing true hope in Him.
Jesus gives us as His followers direction in how to think and pray for this dire need:
* Affirm the reality many are spiritually hungry. Reject the lies of Satan and the flesh, “people are not interested. . .you will be bothering them. . .wait for them to come to you. . .you will offend them, and the relationship will be lost.” Of course, we want to approach people with love and wisdom, and some may decline; and yet Jesus says a vast number of souls are hungering for us to engage their hearts about new life in Him.
* Fervently take the need for laborers in the spiritual harvest to His throne. We may be unsure of what to pray for at times; however, this request is a clear priority in the mind of Jesus. The word fervently or earnestly means, “with sincere conviction, seriously.” Start with asking God how you can labor and then expand to praying for others to hear and obey His call.
* Expect to make sacrifices as you labor and help others do so. I can imagine when laborers participated in the harvesting of crops [before machines], it may have taken longer than expected or required more stamina. A worker may have needed to move to another field or help a fellow laborer who grows weary. Pray with a heart willing to sacrifice your time, gifts, reputation, and resources to see the spiritual harvest of souls go forward.
If you are not sure where to begin, I’d like to suggest a well-received resource at Sacred Story. The Living Your Story Bible Study is designed by myself and Courtney Garrett to provide a way for you to join the spiritual harvest. Those you gather for the study will learn about what it means to have faith in Christ and trust in Him in everyday life in their stories. I encourage you to pray and invite a group in your “harvest field.”
I am leading a group of women through the material and I am so humbled when one woman expressed that this is her first Bible study to attend, and she’s learning so much. I urge you to not allow our spiritual enemy to rob you of the delight of being involved in this kingdom priority. I am here to guide you so email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s get started sister!