I don’t know what it’s like at your house, but at our house, the dishes have to be done every day. For some reason, they don’t do themselves. I’m going to be honest with you: no one in our house really likes to do the dishes. I’ll walk by the sink and see the growing pile. I’ll sit down in the living room and tell my wife, “Oh, those dishes need to be done.” She’ll agree. Neither of us gets up to do them. She didn’t get my hint. I don’t want to do them. Later, she’ll look at me and ask, “Didn’t you say that the dishes need to be done?” which is wife-speak for “Why haven’t you done the dishes?” I feign ignorance of her meaning and say, “Yep, they sure do.” It becomes a battle of attrition and endurance to see which of us can hold out the longest before the dishes are finally done. Are we the only ones who do this?
This is a problem that plagues society and the church. No, not just the dishes, but the whole idea of people actually doing something. We look at a problem and say gravely, “someone ought to do something about that!” We wait for someone to do it. We may even pray for someone to take care of the problem. When it doesn’t get done, we will gripe with the rest of the people that think something needs to be done. We won’t step up and do it ourselves, though. We keep waiting on someone else. Jesus deals with that attitude in a message to His disciples that speaks to us today. “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’” (Luke 10:2-3)
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. He modeled prayer for them. I don’t remember any other prayer request that He had for His disciples. That makes this one significant. What did Jesus see? He saw a world in need of a Savior. That world was ready for a Savior and the message of the Kingdom of God. Jesus also saw that there was a labor scarcity. He looked at His disciples and He told them to ask the Lord to send out more workers. That seems like a simple enough thing to pray about. You’ve probably heard sermons on this passage where the pastor made a point of asking you, and everyone else in the congregation to pray for more workers. I have never heard of any church that looked around at the needs of their community and the needs of their church and said, “Ok folks. We’re in good shape. We don’t need anyone else to help us as we minister to our community.” We live in a world that is full of need and the greatest need is the message Jesus preached: The Kingdom of God is among us. The call to prayer that Jesus gave His disciples almost 2000 years ago, is a call to prayer for us today.
We realize that need, breathe a prayer asking God to send out laborers, and then relax, happy to have been obedient to His call. And we studiously avoid verse 3 when Jesus tells the Disciples to “Go!” Praying’s not so hard. Ok, I don’t do enough, but if Jesus asks me to pray, I can stop, say a prayer, and then go on my way. The problem is that Jesus doesn’t stop with asking the Disciples to pray. He commands His Disciples to go. In other words, He commands His Disciples to be the answer to the prayer they have just uttered. The truth was, they weren’t going to get more workers until more people believed in Jesus and were ushered into the Kingdom of God. The only way for that to happen was for the disciples to go. That truth still exists today. If we want God to answer the prayer to provide more workers in the harvest, we need to go into the harvest field and be part of the answer to our prayer. Any time we pray, we should prepare to be part of the answer. That’s obedience.
Oh Lord, it’s so much easier to pray for You to do something than it is for me to actually be a part of the answer. Give me the grace and the strength to go and share the good news of Jesus.