And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Loss and grief is a universal experience right now. Whether it’s something temporary like coffee with a friend or gathering for church on Sunday, or something more permanent like a loved one or a job—we all feel the hole.
You may not know, but alcohol sales are up. So are visits to pornography websites. Investors are beginning to think now is the time to put money into marijuana companies. Everywhere, people are trying to fill the hole in their lives. They are lost, like sheep without a shepherd.
For those of us who know the Lord, despite grieving and even depression over the social isolation, we remain at rest in Christ. We have a peace that surpasses understanding. We tire of these conditions, but we also know that, by the grace of God, we shall not be overcome by them. Christ, our victor has defeated death. Who shall separate us?
It is precisely because we have the gift of Christ that we must take up the prayers in Matthew 9. We must pray for those who are like sheep without a shepherd—those still trying to fill the void with stuff and physical pleasures; those trying to numb the pain of isolation; those who for the first time are looking themselves in the mirror and who don’t like what they see. These need the hope of Christ.
Our call then is to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into the field, those who would make more phone calls to the elderly and the needy, those who would provide food to the hungry, those who would be speak words of life to the alcoholic and the suicidal. Pray that God would provide for the spiritually hungry.
And remember that you, too, are a worker in the field. Pray that God would show you your little corner of the field where you might serve, and how.
Father, I pray for those who are without a shepherd, who have no pastor, no one to look after them, to point them to you, to Jesus. I pray that you would multiply the workers so that the full measure of the harvest may come in. Look on the lost and the lonely and act!
Jesus, show me who you are calling on me to minister your words of life to. I pray, burden me with names of those who don’t believe that I may begin to pray for them and to call them and share the good news. Have mercy on me, Lord, for this prayer is too much for me, and I don’t feel equipped to do it.
Holy Spirit, teach me to pray.