Prayer Is the First Work

Jon Opgenorth

Read: Matthew 9:38; 10:5-15

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly . . . (9:38)

Can you place yourself in the sandals of the apostles? What words of Jesus would you find beyond your capacity? Preaching the kingdom, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, or casting out demons? Or maybe that they are to go with only the shirts on their backs! More likely, we find all of it beyond our capacity. “Really, Jesus, you want me to do what?”

Perhaps that is why Jesus’ first instruction of harvest in Matthew 9:38 is to pray earnestly. The mission of God will always be more than we can accomplish. And yet, if we give ourselves over to earnest prayer, we will see God do more than we can even imagine. Fervent prayer precedes the wonderful acts of God. Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness praying before his public ministry begins. He spends a night in prayer before the final walk to the cross. The disciples are praying in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes in power. It’s during the prayers of the Antioch church that Barnabas and Saul are sent out on the first missionary journey (Acts 13).

The invitation to join in God’s harvest is no less staggering in the fall of 2019. Today, more than five billion people do not know the hope that only Jesus offers. With the apostles of Matthew 10, Jesus sends us with the same authority and task. Impossible? Of course! So let us begin with earnest prayer. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God for an increased urgency in your own prayers.