Anyone who is on the mailing list of a missionary or Christian organization is familiar with the final paragraph of the letter explaining how supporters can help. Typically, this section includes a request for prayer, and it may be the most important part of the whole letter. As crosscultural worker Gloria Furman wrote, “Missions is the fruit of prayer being picked.”
In Luke 10, we are invited to witness a commissioning service. Jesus sends out seventytwo missionaries to visit all the surrounding towns, to spend time with the citizens, to heal the sick, and to proclaim the saving name of Christ to everyone who would listen.
Seventytwo might seem like a large number of gospel workers, but, surprisingly, Jesus says it is not even close to enough. He exhorts his hearers to pray for more. So we too must not be satisfied by one preacher here or there when the world needs a vast company of them.
The promised great harvest is not always visible to human eyes. At the time Jesus spoke these words, the total number of those who embraced Him as the Messiah was probably smaller than the size of many churches today. For us, too, it can be hard to imagine very many coming to Christ. Most of us have never witnessed the conversion of huge numbers of people like the three thousand at Pentecost on a single day (Acts 2:41)—but these verses give us an incentive to pray for it. A harvest of souls is waiting, promises Jesus, and it is amazingly large.
When we pray for the conversion of many, we pray alongside Christ Himself whom the Father invites, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:8).