“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, NIV84)
I have heard a lot of sermons on these verses over the years — almost all emphasizing the fact that there aren’t enough people willing to be in full-time ministry. I’ve heard we don’t pay our pastors and teachers enough (which, in general, is true). I’ve heard (not in sermons, but in discussions) that church bodies are having to lay off pastors because the harvest isn’t plentiful enough. The church in this condition has some serious problems, but that is a topic for a different devotion. I have never heard anyone address the fact that professional church workers are sent out “like sheep among wolves.” If we truly understood what this meant we might understand the true reason workers for the harvest need to be prayed for. God alone can prepare the heart and mind of a professional church worker to face the ferociousness of the world he or she serves.
But to truly understand this verse we need to understand the evangelistic perspective of the call to be a worker in the harvest fields. We are not called to serve the church (its members) only. We are called to continuously go out into the world (where the wolves are) so that we might plant, water and harvest for the Lord’s kingdom. It’s dangerous work. Only the spiritually courageous are called to this work. Jesus tells us in these verses that the harvest is (should be) plentiful. I guarantee if we are members of a church body that is laying off pastors, we forgot where the work was to be done (out in the world).
So we pray! We pray that the Lord of the harvest would supply the necessary workers to do the hard work. And every year those prayers are answered and pastors, teachers, deacons, etc., come out of colleges around the world to enter (as sheep among wolves) the harvest field. We also pray that these workers stay focused to their task. We pray that they are protected from the enemy. Finally, we support them in any way we can because they have chosen to take up this noble but dangerous work.