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The Prayer Circle: Pray in the Harvest to the Lord of the Harvest

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

Did you know that the harvest fields and white and ready to go? If not, you’re missing the crucial first step of evangelism: prayer!

This week we’ll look at Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel to find the place of power in prayer to the Lord of the Harvest.

Pray in the Harvest to the Lord of the Harvest

In this arena of prayer, we want to rescue prayer from becoming ingrown. Here we can actually participate with the Lord in His harvest.

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” (Matthew 9:36-38).

In this passage we see God’s pattern of His harvest work (Matthew 9:35-10:1-8).

  1. We become occupied with the Lord of the Harvest (9:38).

  2. He pours His life into us (10:1).

  3. He sends us forth with our instructions (10:8).

“When revival is the experience of the church, then evangelism will be the expression of the church.”

We are participants in His harvest.

The Lord is passionate for His harvest and He has invited us to join Him starting at home in prayer. Is your prayer meeting maintenance or frontline?

In Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, C.J. Miller said:

Our prayer meeting in Pennsylvania was intended to function as a frontline battle station, the earlier meeting in California was largely designed to maintain the existing life and ministry of our congregation. Believers came to the earlier meeting to be edified by a Bible study that took up most of the hour and to pray for the internal needs of the church. Expectancy seemed to be at a low ebb among attenders, evidenced by the fact that none of us bothered to keep a record of prayers offered and answered. I also do not think that Christians came to this prayer meeting expecting to meet God in a life-changing encounter. Thus, it died.

By contrast, people came to the frontline prayer meeting to be changed. They discovered what Augustine has emphasized, that man’s chief need is to fellowship with God, to find fulfillment in Him, and to experience the abiding presence of Jesus (Ps. 27:4; 36:7-9; John 14:18-23; 15:1-10). So they came to be changed, and they were changed because Jesus kept His promise to be wherever two or three gather in His name (Matt. 19:19-20). From Him they received grace to confess and forsake their sins, to be touched with His compassion for the lost, and to go forth to “put feet on their prayers” through witnessing by words and deeds of love.

Speaking of maintenance-style prayer meetings, Steve Harper says bluntly that “they are not really prayer meetings.” In his useful little book Prayer Ministry in the Local Church, he concludes, “They are usually Bible studies with five minutes of prayer tacked on at the end.” Ours in California actually was given to prayer, but its conception and format were designed more to preserve the status quo of the inward-looking church then to break down its rigidities. By contrast, the frontline prayer assembly has a revolutionary purpose. The prayer of those who attend it is summarized in the words, “Thy kingdom come.”

Oswald Chambers shared these insights in My Utmost for His Highest.

The key to the missionary problem is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work; that is, not work as the word is popularly understood today because that may mean the evasion of concentration on God. The key to the missionary problem is not the key of common sense, nor the medical key, nor the key of civilization or education or even evangelization. They key is prayer. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest.” Naturally, prayer is not practical, it is absurd; we have to realize that prayer is stupid from the ordinary common-sense point of view.

There are no nations in Jesus Christ’s outlook, but the world. How many of us pray without respect of persons, and with respect to only one Person, Jesus Christ? He owns the harvest that is produced by distress and conviction of sin, and this is the harvest we have to pray that labourers may be thrust out to reap. We are taken up with active work while people all round are ripe to harvest, and we do not reap one of them, but waste our Lord’s time in overenergized activities. Suppose the crisis comes to your father’s life, in your brother’s life. Are you there as a labourer to reap the harvest for Jesus Christ? “Oh, but I have a special work to do!” No Christian has a special work to do. A Christian is called to be Jesus Christ’s own, one who is not above his Master, one who does not dictate to Jesus Christ what he intends to do. Our Lord calls to no special work. He calls to Himself. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,” and He will engineer circumstances and thrust you out.

One final word. For years I have been fascinated with Jesus’ words to His disciples “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19). It is a joy to see that if we follow Him, He will make us to become fishers of men. Again, the idea of staying close to Jesus is the root of all evangelism. We are wildly convinced of Jesus through daily exposure, and we are madly in love with Him because of who we see He is; we can’t quit talking about Him to others.

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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