It was so many years ago that I cannot recall who the preacher was. I do remember his theme, however, and the text scripture.
“Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
The text is from Matthew 9:38, and in my Bible is printed in red…for these are the words of Jesus. The preacher chose well his title, a title etched to this day in my brain: The Only Prayer Request of Jesus.
A prayer request by Jesus. Think about it. A subject of such importance, one so dear to the heart of our Master that for as long as this earth stands, His powerful words will reach to us…will convict and motivate and arouse passion. Check out that chapter and the preceding verses.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherds.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
…then verse 38, our subject, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
How practical was the Man, Jesus. Mixed right in there with His incomprehensible ways of slapping mud onto unseeing eyes and thus effecting cures, His pasting on an ear that one of His disciples had sliced off, His growing fishes and loaves of bread in His hands, His “walking-on-water” instructions to Peter, His halting of funeral processions…mixed right in with these miracles was a practical observation. Lots of harvest here. Ripe. Bountiful. Beautiful. But too few workers. Spoilage, waste, fainting, blight, mold.
It’s Sunday again, and once more we will gather in our sanctuaries. We’ll greet each other and the occasional visitor and we’ll smile and shake hands, and we’ll feel quite well. After all, we have spent another week sharpening our sickle. Perhaps we’ll even take it with us this morning and wield about the shinning expensive harvest tool we’ve polished so highly. Perhaps we may gather up a fragment or two from the ripe fields, but if we’re honest, we’ll look about and judge fairly and question deeply: How much harvest is here about me? How many sheaves around my feet? How much larger is the congregation today than was so last year? How often, and how effectively, have I thrust in my harvest tools?
Very humbly today I echo the stirring words of Jesus, and to those who read here I ask you to join with me in obedience to His challenging words–those words that generations ago were flung to the world, “Pray that he will send forth laborers…”
One more thing. Have you continued long with preparation? Has sickle sharpening become your theme? Are you frantically trying to place “your ducks in a row?” Do you need one more workshop, one more conference, one more “how-to” book?