Jesus said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2).
For those whose spiritual eyes are open, the harvest field is overwhelming. A common thread in the testimonies of those who take short-term mission trips is that they were overwhelmed by the need and opportunities there. Most missionaries likewise feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. Pastors and church workers may also feel overwhelmed. Viewing the harvest as an overwhelming task is justified, because the context of the two gospel passages indicate it was the overwhelming scope of the harvest that prompted our Lord to command, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
While we might expect to find the command to pray to be in the Greek present tense, indicating a constant or repetitive action, that is not the case. In both texts, the verb “pray” is aorist, indicating a one-time completed action. Why is this the case when we know prayer should be a repeated or a constant activity? Perhaps Scripture employs the aorist tense here to emphasize the immediacy and temporary nature of the harvest. The idea is, pray now because the harvest is short-lived. Soldiers need to enlist before the war is over. Just as there is no reason for a farmer to continue praying (Greek present tense) for last year’s wheat harvest, likewise, the Lord is impressing upon us the need to pray now for today’s harvest. Satan need not cause believers to deny the harvest; he need only convince them to postpone it yet another day. Thus, the nature of the harvest is an overwhelming reality, compelling believers to urgent, immediate prayer.
The midnight hour approaches for today’s harvest. Have you prayed “the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest?” Have you offered your children? Are you laboring in His fields?
Written by Dr. Kevin Brosnan, Field Administrator with Baptist World Mission