Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 35 — Praying for Laborers
Matthew 9:37,38, "Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest."
People often ask me, "Where do you get all those good workers?"
I reply, "I pray for them." The Lord Jesus told His disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest (that is, the Holy Spirit) that He would send (thrust) laborers into the fields. These words were spoken to His disciples. He had called them. He knew that they would need help, so He told them, "When you need help, ask Me," or "Pray Me." God knows that we need laborers, and He could send them without our praying, but if He can accomplish the same end and at the same time have a little fellowship with us, it is so much more delightful for Him and, yes, for us. Ah, this is so simple and so sweet and yet so profound!
Often Christian schools across America call Hyles-Anderson College on the phone requesting some teachers. They need laborers, so they call the college and ask if we have any to send.
An army officer may need reinforcing troops. He calls headquarters and requisitions more men, and the reinforcements are sent. The troops are there waiting to be sent. Headquarters is waiting for the requisition.
Pastors all across America and around the world lament the fact that they have so few workers and yet they never make requisition. They never call headquarters and ask for workers! How sad, how sad, how sad it is that we go without laborers when the Lord of the harvest has them available and waiting for us but we do not ask for them! The difference between the church that has soul winners and the church that doesn't have soul winners is prayer. The difference between the church that has a scarcity of Sunday school teachers is prayers. God has the laborers. He wants us to have them. He wants to send them, but somehow Christian leaders have a trace of atheism in them. We somehow do not believe that God will supply our needs in answer to our requests; so we set out to connive and plan with our human reasoning to get workers "by hook or by crook."
Then you ask, "If God knows we need workers, and if God has the workers, why doesn't He just send them without our praying?" This again goes back to the very nature of God. He wants us to work with Him. He wants us to be co-laborers with Him.
He also wants to increase our burden for the work. If we spend enough time praying for laborers, then we ourselves become better laborers. If we are required to look at the harvest fields and to plead with God to send laborers into those fields, we ourselves will have our burden for the work increased which will be followed by a new zeal and dedication to the work. As is mentioned elsewhere in other chapters, we often become the answer to our prayer. As we become more burdened for the work because we pray for laborers, sometimes we become one of those laborers. For a long time I poured my heart out to God asking Him to send somebody to Chicago. Little did I know that I would be that somebody. Now for approximately a quarter of a century I have been the answer to my own prayers.
Please note to whom we are to pray. In Matthew 9:38 He says, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest." The Lord of the harvest in the Holy Spirit, and so we ask the Holy Spirit to give us laborers for the harvest fields. Immediately someone will rise to say, "Oh, no, no, no! That's not prayer! We pray TO the Father, THROUGH the Son, IN the Spirit!" Well, I think that is certainly theologically correct, but since the Holy Spirit is a Person, there is nothing wrong with addressing Him or talking to Him, and since He is the One Who sends laborers into the harvest, why not ask Him for laborers?
I remember one night years ago when Dr. John R. Rice and I were at a Bible conference together. Before he preached, he prayed something like this, "Oh, Father, breathe on me. Lord Jesus, help me to preach tonight. Holy Spirit, give me power."
After the service a young preacher came to Dr. Rice and said, "You made a serious mistake while you prayed to God the Father, then you prayed to Jesus, then you prayed to the Holy Spirit." He continued, "The proper procedure is to pray to the Father through the Son in the Spirit."
Dr. Rice looked at him with a sheepish grin and replied, "Son, I've been in the family long enough until I know all of Them personally. I just talk to whichever One I need to talk to at the time." The old giant patted the young man on the shoulder and went his way.
There is nothing wrong with the child of God saying, "Jesus, I love You," "Father, supply my needs," and "Holy Spirit, give me power." Sometimes we can be so busy being theologically correct that we can be spiritually empty! Oh, for the heartbeat of the Christian faith! Oh, for the lilt and joy! Oh, for the tears and the burden! Oh, for the warmth and the tenderness!
Praying for laborers also makes us willing to go and makes us willing to let our own go. When a person sees the harvest fields and becomes burdened for them, he is much more willing to allow his child to go into the fields of harvest and he is much more willing to go himself.
An old missionary broken in health returned from the mission field. He stood before a great convention of people and pleaded for someone to go and take his place. The hearts were cold to his appeal, and he was unable to find anybody to take his place. Finally he broke down and cried and said, "I'll go back." He did go back and gave his life on the fields of a foreign country.
Years ago in Texas a well-known preacher was appealing for mission volunteers for a needy overseas country. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he made his appeal. During the invitation time his own daughter came and volunteered to be a foreign missionary. He looked at her and said, "Not you, honey! Oh, not you, honey!"
She said, "But, Daddy, you made the appeal in such a manner that I have to go!"
Now notice in Matthew 9:36, "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." Notice why the laborers are needed. John 4:35b, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." We say the field are hard; God says the fields are white unto harvest. We say that hearts are hard; God says the fields are white unto harvest. We say this is a hard age; yet God says the fields are white unto harvest.
Years ago I visited a farmer who was backslidden. I was trying to lead him back to Jesus. He said, "I haven't got time to come to church. Come with me, Pastor." He took me out into his fields. He said, "Look at that harvest. It's ready to be gathered now, and I can't find anybody willing to work. I've never seen such an age in my life. People are lazy. Young folks won't work. I'm willing to pay good wages, but my crop will waste before I can gather it all because I have no laborers. I worked hard. I have the best crop I have had in years, but there is no way I can harvest it because there is no one willing to work."
I put my hand on his shoulder and through tears I said, "That's exactly why I'm here, my brother. God said His fields are white unto harvest but the laborers are few. I'm here to plead with you to help God harvest His crop. Somehow, my brother, I feel if you will go into God's harvest fields, He will supply you with laborers for your fields." The point was well taken. The man began to weep. We bowed and he came back to God and launched again into the harvest fields. It was not surprising to this Preacher, then, to see that in a few days God provided him with sufficient laborers to gather the best harvest he had ever had.
Have you requisitioned Heaven lately for necessary workers? Do your fields go unharvested because you have not prayed the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers? This is His plan. Would God we would believe it enough to do it!
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