Jesus connected prayer and mission and we should as well. He prayed for his disciples before he left and for the impact on the world. He taught the disciples to pray prior to their going out on mission in Luke 10. Here is what he said there,
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 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. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” – Luke 10:1-3
What might you expect Jesus to instruct his disciples to pray for before being sent out?
You might expect them to pray for success. You might expect them to pray for safety or for open hearts.
Jesus instructs those who are going on mission to pray for God to send people on mission. Why is that because they are already on their way to those they are praying God sends someone to?
I think there are a few reasons this makes sense.
First, God sends people before he sends you and usually those are people you will never know or have a clue were ever sent. I cannot tell you how many times I have reached out to someone where there wouldn’t have been success if God had not first sent someone to that person other than me prior to my arrival. I know that is like praying a prayer you believe must have been answered before it was prayed but I think that is what makes it a prayer of faith. If someone harvests it there must have been someone to have first sown and someone who has already done the watering.
Second, I think you can only pray for God to send someone before you finally decide to take action yourself. This is why I get people who are interested in evangelism but are too afraid to study with someone to first start by praying for the lost. You can only pray they be reached so long before you get convinced that it is you who needs to make the attempt to reach them.
What would happen if we prayed this prayer? Why is that even a part of the story because Jesus is in the process of directly sending those he tells to ask it. Isn’t it answered by their going or is something else going on?
Last, notice whose field it is. It is “his harvest field.” God is sending us to places he already possesses. It is all His. We are His. They are His. Everything is His. Because of that we can pray and go with freedom and boldness because we do so with a recognition that it is not just others who go before but God himself as well.
Rekindling our evangelistic spirit starts with prayer. The going will follow.