Praying Through the Bible #130
TEXT: Matthew 9:35-38: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
In recent years, Christian missions organizations have identified a part of the globe that they refer to as the 10/40 Window. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, “The 10/40 Window is a rectangular-shaped area extending from West Africa to East Asia, from ten degrees north to forty degrees north of the equator. Often called ‘The Resistant Belt,’ this specific region, encompasses the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists — billions of spiritually impoverished souls.” Two-thirds of the world’s population lives in this region made up of 67 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and many of them have not heard the Gospel — not even one time.
Evangelism researchers have estimated that two million people search for God on the internet every day. It is true today, even as it was in Jesus’ day, that the harvest truly is plentiful, and I hope that you pray regularly for souls to be saved. However, let’s consider how we can tackle this issue even more effectively like Jesus did.
First, we see from our passage that we ought to be busy working for the salvation of lost souls. The Bible states, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Jesus was busy. He was on the move — talking, teaching, preaching, and working for the salvation of lost souls.
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that the area of Galilee in which Jesus preached was about 40 miles wide and 70 miles long. There were around 200 cities and villages in that region. In the smallest of the cities, there were about 15,000 people. If we extrapolate that number out, we can conclude that there were at least 3 million people in Galilee at that time. And, the Bible tells us that Jesus went into “all the cities and villages” to preach the Gospel.
Scholars tell us that there were also several religious sects in first century Palestine. We are familiar, of course, with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but there were also the Herodians, the Zealotes, the Essenes, and the Sicarii [SICK-AR-EYE] among others. Most of the religious leaders of that time did not engage in evangelism. They defined themselves by their separation from the people they considered unrighteous. Many of the leaders of these sects gathered their disciples about them, separated from the general population, and went to live in the wilderness or in mountainous regions where they kept to themselves, taught the followers they had, and waited for others to join them.
Jesus was different. He was, if you will, “a man of the people.” He did not wait for His disciples to come find Him. He went and called them. After that, He spent months teaching multitudes and teaching His disciples to do what He was doing. Jesus did not carry out His ministry like many churches do today — with a focus on keeping the sheep in the pen or keeping the fish in the aquarium. Jesus went out and got more sheep, and then He sent His disciples and 70 others out to do the same.
We should not just sit around and pray for more laborers to be sent into the harvest; we ought to be out bringing in the sheaves ourselves. Jesus did this despite the opposition He faced. All throughout the previous verses of chapter 9, Jesus was criticized by other religious leaders. First, they accused Him of blasphemy because He told a man that his sins were forgiven. Next, they criticized Him because He ate dinner with a bunch of tax collectors and other known sinners. After that, they criticized Him because His disciples didn’t fast like John’s disciples did. And, finally, they accused Him of being in league with demons because He was able to cast out demons. While Jesus was out trying to save sinners, He was being criticized and slandered by those who sat on their hands and did nothing at all.
What does this mean for our prayer life, specifically for those times when we are praying for the salvation of lost souls. It means that we should put feet to our prayers. As Saint Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” We should not be praying, ‘Lord, send them’ into the mission field if we have not already gone into the mission field ourselves.
You might say, ‘Well, I don’t have the gift of evangelism.’ The truth of the matter is that you do not need the “gift” of evangelism to win souls. Yes, there are some people that God has specifically gifted with the ability to persuade people to accept Christ enmasse. And God is probably not calling you to be the next Billy Graham. But there are many ways you can be in the harvest fields influencing people to give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Look back at our passage for a moment. Not only was Jesus preaching the Gospel, but He was teaching people and healing people. There is something that you can do in the service of the Gospel. People today have an abundance of needs. You can be used by God to fulfill those needs as a way to open the door for the Gospel in their lives.
As you pray for the salvation of lost souls, and pray for others to go out into the harvest, make sure you pray about how you can be used by the Lord to see more souls saved, for as the old song says, “People need the Lord.”
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.