The Prayer Request of Christ
Imagine being at a Christian gathering where Jesus was physically present. When those in attendance are asked to share their prayer needs, the Lord immediately raises His hand. I’m sure that everyone present would find some way to write down Christ’s prayer request. Fortunately, His request (actually His command) has already been recorded.
Twice, in the New Testament we read the following words from Jesus, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2, CSB) Therefore, this “Prayer Request of Christ” is not only crucial to the spread of the gospel, it also provides an opportunity for the evangelist during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
During the present pandemic, all of us have undoubtedly been reflecting on our walk with Christ, our families, as well as our ministries. Regarding our ministries, as each of us experience a greater urgency to proclaim the good news, I’m sure Christ is stirring the hearts of many others as well. Some of whom may not have shared their faith in years. Others have been avoiding the call He’s placed on their lives and are on the verge of finally responding. Thus, by praying for Christ to send workers (henceforth referred to as “sending prayers”), our prayers may just be the catalyst the Lord uses to move hearts and increase the number of harvest workers. With respect to that, by consistently praying “sending prayers,” and equipping others to do the same, evangelists can make an impact in various ways, three of which will be presented here.
1) Identifying with the Heart of Christ:
First, by leading and encouraging the church to pray “sending prayers,” the evangelist helps people to identify with the heart of Christ. Matthew wrote, “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). The specific word for compassion (pity in some translations) is directly connected to Christ eight times in the New Testament. It’s a word that communicates the “gut-wrenching” emotion experienced by Jesus at that time. Six of those times Jesus responded with a miracle to alleviate the hurts and needs of the people affected. Twice however, (Matthew 9 and Mark 6:34) no miracle ensued. Instead in Matthew 9, Christ responded with a call to prayer. By praying sending prayers, believers respond to and connect with Christ’s heartbreak over the lost. This leads to a second step in the “divine design” of the harvest process . . . that of going into the harvest. A response that can be linked with sending prayers.
2) Being Sent by Christ:
As the evangelist leads others to pray “sending prayers,” it will likely result in the person who prays, also becoming someone who “goes.” Those whom Jesus called to pray in Matthew 9 (most likely the 12 Apostles) were the ones He then sent into the harvest (Matthew 10:.1-5). The same pray-go sequence is found in Luke 10:2-3. Those who pray today may be the ones Christ sends tomorrow, both locally and beyond. Therefore, as evangelists who seek to fulfill the important Christ-given mission of equipping the local church (Eph. 4:11-12), sending prayers are an integral part of the process. As stated, the initial response to the “Prayer request of Christ” is to pray. And, these prayers become part of the preparation aspect for doing the work of evangelism.
3) Multiplying Workers for the Harvest:
Last, as more Christ-followers go into the harvest, greater numbers of people will hear the gospel. Then, as more people hear, more will be saved which increases the potential number of harvest workers and the cycle continues. This is an observable pattern when placing Matthew 9, alongside Luke 10. In the former, the 12 Apostles were commanded to pray for workers and then they were sent. Perhaps many who began following Christ from their initial mission were among the 72 who were told by Jesus to pray and to go. Then, as more begin to follow Christ the pattern continues. A pattern necessary for the gospel to reach all nations (Matt. 28: 19, Acts 1:8).
Evangelists have a wonderful opportunity to “be an answer” to the Prayer Request of Christ. By praying “sending prayers,” and by proclaiming Christ, we not only obey the Lord’s command to pray, we also obey His command to go. We have a Christ-given role to help equip the church to be a witness. By leading and encouraging others to pray sending prayers, an essential part of the equipping process begins. One that alongside other aspects of training, will result in greater numbers of people sharing the good news of Christ at home and around the world. An ever-present need during this challenging time and beyond.