The Church Prays for Church Workers

Editor’s Note: Articles from Set Apart to Serve, the LCMS’ church work recruitment initiative, are hosted here on The Lutheran Witness site. Visit the “Ministry Features” page for regular content on church work recruitment and formation.

The community of Christ prays that God would supply church workers.

Concerning prayer, Luther writes, “We are in a situation where no person can perfectly keep the Ten Commandments, even though he has begun to believe. The devil with all his power, together with the world and our own flesh, resists our efforts. Therefore, nothing is more necessary than that we should continually turn towards God’s ear, call upon Him, and pray to Him. We must pray that He would give, preserve, and increase [saving] faith in us.”[1]

While addressing prayer, Luther focuses our attention on that which is most important: saving faith. Saving faith is our eternal salvation through the work and merit of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the will of God, that all people be saved and have eternal salvation in Him (1 Tim. 2:4).

In Matthew 9, the primary work of Jesus was to teach and preach the Good News, the message of eternal salvation through His blood, death and resurrection. St. Matthew witnessed Jesus looking upon the crowd with great compassion. Jesus was physically moved, from the very core of his gut, with compassion for His people. He was so moved because these people were harassed by Satan, helpless to accomplish their own salvation, and diseased and afflicted by every physical, emotional and spiritual ailment because of the curse of sin and death. While so afflicted with sin and death, these people were like sheep without a shepherd. There was no one telling them about the remedy for sin, sickness and death: new life in Christ.

In His desire for these people to be saved, and in His deep compassion for them, Jesus taught and preached the Word of Life to them. He healed them. He proclaimed hope, joy and comfort into their ears — those things that only He can give. He gave them what they needed most — life and salvation!

In the heart of His teaching and preaching, in the depth of His deep compassion for sinners, and in His desire that all be saved for all eternity, Jesus looked at His disciples and all those who were believing in Him and said, “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” (Matt. 9:37–38).

The harvest is the gathering of God’s people for eternal salvation, especially as His second coming is near. St. Paul describes this joyful harvest day: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep [died in the faith]. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:14–17).

This harvest is plentiful. God desires that all be saved — from Adam to the last person conceived — before His return. This includes our children and grandchildren, our family and friends, those in our congregation, those in our community, and people of every language and tribe. In this fallen world of sin and death, there will always be those who have not heard of Christ or believe in Him. Therefore, there will always be a need for pastors and church workers to preach, teach and share the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life. This plentiful harvest is in our family, in our neighborhoods, throughout our nation, and throughout the world.

How are all these people to be saved and live with Christ and all believers for all eternity? It is through the preaching, teaching and sharing the Good News of Christ and His Word. St. Paul so eloquently speaks this truth: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent [called and ordained]? So [saving] faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:13–17).

God uses all Christians, each in their vocation, to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ and to teach His Word, through which the Holy Spirit creates and sustains saving faith. In His unfathomable wisdom, God instituted the Office of the Holy Ministry, in which men are prepared, called and ordained to feed and shepherd His people with His Word and Sacraments. In love for Christ and His people, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod established seven church work vocations to support the Office of the Holy Ministry and to assist the faithful in their God-given vocations.[2]

When Jesus spoke Matthew 9:37–38, He stated that laborers (church workers) to preach and teach the Gospel are few. Those who preach and teach God’s Word in a full-time vocation continue to be few today. In deep compassion, Jesus urges and lovingly commands His church to pray, plead and beg that He would send church workers to preach and teach the Good News that all may hear, believe and have eternal life.

When and where might the community of Christ pray that God would supply church workers? Here are a few opportunities:

  • In our daily personal and family prayers
  • In the Divine Service
  • In Sunday school, Bible class, Confirmation instruction, vacation Bible school
  • At the beginning of a church meeting (council, elders, voters, or committee meeting)
  • At the youth group Bible study
  • At Bible instruction in the Lutheran school classroom
  • At the beginning of the LWML or men’s group Bible study
  • At church workers monthly meetings and conferences
  • Before quilting, senior’s club or choir

“Nothing is more necessary than that we should continually turn towards God’s ear, call upon Him, and pray to Him,” as we read in the Large Catechism (LC, Lord’s Prayer).

Pray: Lord of the Harvest, as You bid Your disciples to pray for harvest laborers, so we ask You to continue to send workers of Your Word. Raise up, we pray, servants of Your Word that Your Church may proclaim Your saving cross until You come in glory, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

You can learn more about Set Apart to Serve here.

Set Apart to Serve posters, bookmarks and more can be downloaded here.

[1] Large Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, 1-2.

[2] The eight current LCMS church work vocations are: pastor, teacher, deaconess, director Christian education, director of Christian outreach, director of family life ministry, director of church ministries and director of parish music.

1 thought on “The Church Prays for Church Workers”

  1. “Apart” from whom?

    The two Set Apart to Serve posters that are designed for youth ask, “Are you set apart to serve?” and list only church work vocations. Yet all Christians have been chosen to be “a people for [God’s] own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14 ESV).

    “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21 ESV, emphasis added).

    Opportunities to find joy and fulfillment as God’s instruments are as varied as his gifts to each of us. So: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:6 ESV).

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