The following excerpt is taken from the Prayer Guide from Radical titled Let All the Peoples Praise You: 30 Days of Praying for Urgent Needs Among the Nations. Each day of this 30-day prayer guide includes a biblical reflection and a country to pray for. The countries selected are based on their ranking on the Stratus Index.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for 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.” (Matthew 9:36–38)
Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves that we become indifferent to spiritual needs right around us. How much more is this the case when it comes to peoples and places on the other side of the world. Even when we are concerned, we are often unsure about how to respond.
As well as any other passage in Scripture, today’s passage teaches us a right response to peoples and places that have little or no access to the gospel. Two things, in particular, are worth noting.
First, as Jesus went about teaching, preaching, and healing, he wasn’t indifferent or frustrated at the crowds. No, he had “compassion” on them because he saw them as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” If compassion is the right response to unbelievers who do have access to the gospel, then how could we not have compassion on those who have never even heard the name of Christ?
In certain places in the world, you can ask people what they know about Jesus and they’ll have no idea who you’re talking about. You might as well be talking about someone in a nearby village. Yet these are people that Jesus has compassion for. He loves them and desires their salvation.
Second, notice what Jesus tells his disciples to pray for. They are to ask the “Lord of the harvest” for “laborers” to be sent out into the harvest of lost souls. This should be part of our prayer for every unreached people group or place. We should ask the Lord to stir the hearts of his people and send them to areas of urgent spiritual need.
Eventually, we want indigenous believers making disciples and multiplying churches, but until then, we ought to pray that the Lord would send workers from near and far to make Christ known.
For this day of the Prayer Guide, the country of Niger was the prayer focus. See below for information and prayer points taken from Stratus.