Praying Workers are Few Matthew 9:35-38

Today, praying workers are few. Why? Praying workers are few because many church workers look to the need described here, ‘harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd,’ run out to meet the need, but disobey the command stated here, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers.’ The command contained here is to ‘ask the Lord,’ not go do it or go do something. The Lord commands us to pray with the implication that I may be part of the solution, one of a few praying workers, but I must remember to ask the Lord first.

Too often, I presume myself the solution to the need. I presume that I can fix it, and then after things begin to go wrong, I ask God to help. Perhaps God can use me, but I need to ask him for help before I presume I know what to do. First, I need his wisdom. Second, I need him to work on hearts, work through circumstances, and perform other miracles. Third, I need him to bring others along to help. Fourth, I need to separate myself from the possibility that I would view myself as some sort of hero or that I would become prideful about my service. “To your glory and honor Lord,” must precede my actions.

Praying Workers vs. the Pulpit

Most pulpits today preach this section as going and doing with heavy emphasis upon measurable results. Most emphasize doing with prayer as only an afterthought. Thus praying workers are few. Where did Jesus talk about performance metrics? For most people, doing is easier than believing.

Finally, I have this gnawing suspicion that most American Evangelical churches trend toward form theology, presume upon God—God I want to do this so make it work— orient themselves on results  instead of relationships, focus on programs, avoid mystery, make busyness and attendance a measure of spiritual maturity, and in short seem more interested in imitating Pharisees than being in relationship with Jesus. Sorry, just a suspicion. I can’t prove it. Evidence exists, but only incidental. If I employ consultants and surveys to make my case, my method alone proves what I suspect. Can the Holy Spirit be measured? Would Jesus, the apostles, or any of the church fathers find the tools of an MBA compatible with God’s mystery?

Characteristics of Praying Workers

Praying workers remain aware that worldliness and the father of it is always trying to corrupt their motives and work against them often in the guise of good intentions or with a religious god glaze.

Constantly, praying workers remain on guard in prayer looking and reflecting upon their life to make sure God and not their pride controls and directs their life. Daily they lay their pride at Jesus’ feet and deny it control.

Also, praying workers know truth and spirit sustain worship; forgetting truth or Spirit leads to meaningless worship.

Always, praying workers need and rely upon the Holy Spirit and God’s mystery. They know that no one finds the core solution for the harassed and helpless in middle class morality, a cult of family values, a celebration of human goodness, material prosperity, or another program. The solution is the atonement and relationship with the living God.

Finally, praying workers understand that loving God with all their heart, mind, and soul empowers them to miraculously love others. Without God’s miraculous power they know they could not love.

Read Matthew 9:35-38


  1. Who are the harassed and helpless? The workers? In what ways are the harassed and helpless different from the workers?
  2. How does anger, tension, or stress indicate pride?
  3. How might anger, tension, or stress indicate that there is too much of me in a solution or situation and not enough of God?
  4. Why do thoughts about who is getting credit indicate that I need to pray more?
  5. If peace is absent, how is this an indicator that the Spirit is absent?
  6. Why is the concept of ‘my idea’ ridiculous?
  7. When did God last answer a prayer in exactly the manner I expected him to?
  8. When and how did I last use human methods to try solve a problem that needed a God solution? What might I do better next time?
  9. How might a measurable solution be the worst solution?
  10. How do call and a need differ?

 Passage for Meditation

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matthew 9:38


Father I confess too frequently I have been focussed on going and doing. Sometimes I have inflicted harm, given bad advice, enabled dysfunctional behavior, and made the trivial important in your name. Forgive me. Remind me to come to you in prayer, to lean on you, to block out the urgency of the world’s metrics, and to wait on you. Most of all reveal my pride where it exists. I confess it and ask you to heal me of it. Help me to love the harassed and helpless and remember that this too is me when I forget that you are my shepherd or put my self first.

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