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. (Mat 9:36-38)
“Pray ye”…If sinners were reclaimed from darkness and ignorance by the instrumentality of the preacher, without the intervention of such an ordinance as prayer, the transformation would be attributed to the eloquence, pity, or skill of man, and God would be defrauded of His glory. (Alexander Cumming; The revival of religion)
While many concentrate on the "lack of true laborers," our Lord's greatest emphasis is on the need for us, the believers, to "Pray unto the Lord of the harvest to send forth such laborers into His fields." He, the Lord of the Harvest," must send the laborers forth, yet it is us, the believers, who are commanded to "pray," in a spirit of humble intercession, that He might Sovereignly and graciously send them forth.
Too much is done today "in the name of the Lord and for His work", in the power and understanding of the flesh. Many men, who once were greatly humbled by the unmerited mercy and grace of God in calling them into the ministry of the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have now become prideful in the achievements and success which God's grace has freely granted them. Trusting now in their own abilities and God given success, they have all but forgotten, that "it is by the grace of God, that they are what they are" (1 Cor.15:10).
Where once their labor was driven by the "grace of God which was bestowed upon them" (1 Cor.15:10), now they are driven more by their pride and arrogance. The success and divine blessings granted in their ministry, not having deepened in them a spirit of greater humility and dependence on God, they now trust more in their preaching ability; This being evidenced by the arrogance and pride which now fills those messages, which were once adorned in humility, grace and love for the truth.
"Compassion, as fainting sheep having no shepherd, a truly plenteous harvest, yet few laborers," these things moved our Lord and Savior to compel us to "pray with great intercession," to the Lord of the harvest, that He might send forth laborers in His fields. And it is this same compassion and pity which must compel every preacher, as he stands and preaches the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Trusting not in himself, nor any vainly believed abilities, but as he once did when those first impressions of God's grace bestowed upon him to preach the glorious Gospel was strongly felt, let him continue to labor in these great fields of harvest.
Let us not, as ministers of such a glorious Gospel, ever forget our great need of intercessory prayer, if our labors are going to be successful and God glorified in saving sinners! "Pray Ye," must ever be our humble plea before God and our congregation. For without such humble intercession, our labors shall prove to be vain and fruitless!