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Commands of Christ

Pray for Laborers

Where is this command found?

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”

Matthew 9:37–38

Applying This Command

The command is not to go into the fields, but to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into His harvest. This command is the second step in a three-part series. The first phase is to see the harvest. (See John 4:35.) The second phase is to pray for laborers, and the third phase is to go (see Matthew 10:5–6). In preparation for this command, Jesus had said to His disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

This command is a clear indication that the work of God in the world is in response to the prayers of His people, thus emphasizing the power and importance of fervent and effectual prayer by righteous people. (See James 5:16.)

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 9:37–38, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Pray for Laborers.

John 4:35–36

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

I Corinthians 3:9

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

John 9:4

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

Luke 4:18–19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Romans 10:14–15

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

Related Episodes

From the Podcast

Dive deeper into the command Pray for Laborers with these episodes from the Commands of Christ podcast!

Study Question

Q: When a priest sinned, he was to offer a bullock for his atonement. This was the same sacrifice that was required when the whole nation of Israel sinned. However, when the King of Israel sinned, he was required to offer only a goat. Why did the offering for a priest have to be so much greater than the offering for a king? (See Leviticus 4:3–23.)

A: The prophet Ezekiel gives us insight into why the sin of a priest was considered far more serious than the sin of a king and why the sacrificial law required a greater sacrifice. “…Woe be to the shepherds [priests] of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks [Israel]? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. … Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock … neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them” (Ezekiel 34:2–10).

The King was primarily responsible for the physical welfare of the nation. However, the priests were responsible for overseeing the spiritual life of the people. At that time as well as today, God holds those who are spiritually responsible for others to a higher level of accountability. (See Hebrews 13:17.) Because of this, God considered the greatness of the priests’ guilt to be equivalent to the guilt of the whole nation and required priests to offer the same sacrifice that was required to make atonement for the sins of the entire nation.

The chief reason that the priests of Israel were rebuked by God is because they did not demonstrate a shepherd’s heart in their oversight of the people, but rather sought to fulfill their own needs and desires. It is important for each of us to develop a shepherd’s heart that is attentive and sensitive to the spiritual needs of the “sheep” God has placed in our care. We also need to see, as Jesus did, the multitudes of “sheep” that are without a shepherd and ask God to send forth laborers who will introduce them to the Good Shepherd Who can save them from their sins.

For Further Study

You can learn more about the command Pray for Laborers in the book Commands of Christ: Series 3.

Other Resources

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