One night in 1958, New York policemen responded to complaints of a man disturbing the peace at 2:00 a.m. At the scene of the disturbance, they found Dick Simmons praying on the banks of the Hudson River. Simmons was loudly crying out to God to send laborers into the slums, gangs, and drug zones of New York City.
At the very moment the police were investigating this strange crime scene, God was gripping the heart of a small-town Pennsylvania pastor with a burden for the teenagers and gang members of New York. That small-town pastor’s name was David Wilkerson.
That very night, as Simmons continued to pray, Wilkerson drove into Harlem and surrendered himself to work in God’s harvest field. Wilkerson soon founded Teen Challenge, now an internationally-acclaimed ministry helping people find freedom from life-controlling addictions in Jesus Christ.
Teen Challenge was born because one man prayed for workers in God’s harvest field. Through this ministry, thousands of people have accepted Jesus as their Savior, been set free from spiritual bondage, and had their lives restored—because one man prayed.
That’s what God did when Dick Simmons prayed. But did you ever stop to think that YOUR prayers are just as powerful?
I know we sometimes feel like our prayers are small and insignificant. But the reality is that God hears your prayers and mine with the same ears He used to hear Dick Simmons. And He is ready, willing and able to answer us with every bit of the same power He used to call David Wilkerson into His harvest field.
God hears when you pray for lost souls to be saved. Your prayers make an eternal difference in the lives of hurting people.
That’s why the cry of Jesus’ heart was recorded in Matthew 9:35-38:
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, 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 for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (NKJV).
When Jesus saw people who needed Him—people were weary and scattered—His plea to the disciples was that they should ask the Father to send more workers into the harvest field. The Greek word in this passage for “send” is ekballo. Ekballo refers to a forceful motion—a flinging or hurling out. This word tells us that God wants to throw people out into His work with power.
But the strange thing is, looking at Jesus’ words, it appears that He needs us to pray in order to fling those workers out. Somehow, even in His omnipotence, God wants your prayers and my prayers to go up for His cause.
You know, those seemingly little prayers we offer up in the bathroom, or while we’re washing dishes, or while we’re alone with God in the secret place.
Yes, those prayers. Your prayers. They matter to God, and they matter to people you may never even meet.
Think of missionaries like Lottie Moon, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Heidi Baker, and Mother Teresa. When Heidi Baker’s heart was gripped for Mozambique, was there a lady somewhere in Brazil that nobody even knows, asking Father to send laborers into the harvest?
When Mother Teresa fell in love with the poor, hungry and dying people of Calcutta, was there a child in Texas asking God to send more missionaries?
And about that prayer you whispered last week, asking God to send more people to preach the Gospel … did that couple who just joined YWAM or Cru or some other mission organization do so in response to your prayer?
The cry of Jesus’ heart still echoes through the pages of Scripture to us today. It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus made it clear that, in order to bring more people into repentance, God needs more workers in His harvest field.
And He uses YOUR prayers to send those workers.
Your prayers matter. There may be people in your city, your school or in another country right now who are working in the mission field because you prayed. Someone might be breaking free from drug addiction, eating their first meal this week, or reconciling with their spouse right now because you whispered a prayer for laborers that you thought no one heard.
So don’t stop. Pray on, sisters and brothers! Let’s join with Jesus and cry out to the Lord of the harvest to fling out workers into His harvest field. Your prayers make an eternal difference.
by Jamie Rohrbaugh