Doing Good to the World By Prayer — J.C. Ryle
“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.’” – Matthew 9:36-38
“‘He saw the multitudes of people when he was on earth, scattered about ‘like sheep having no shepherd,’ and he was moved with compassion. He saw them neglected by those who, for the time, ought to have been teachers. He saw them ignorant, hopeless, helpless, dying and unfit to die. The sight moved him to deep pity. That loving heart could not see such things and not feel.
Now what are our feelings when we see such a sight? This is the question that should arise in our minds. There are many such to be seen on every side. There are millions of idolaters and heathen on earth—millions of deluded Mahometans (ie: Muslims) —millions of superstitious Roman Catholics; there are thousands of ignorant and unconverted Protestants near our own doors. Do we feel tenderly concerned about their souls? Do we deeply pity their spiritual destitution? Do we long to see that destitution relieved? These are serious inquiries, and ought to be answered. It is easy to sneer at missions to the heathen, and those who work for them; but the man who does not feel for the souls of all unconverted people can surely not have ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Let us mark in the last place, that there is a solemn duty incumbent on all Christians who would do good to the unconverted part of the world. They are to pray for more men to be raised up to work for the conversion of souls. It seems as if it was to be a daily part of our prayers. ‘Pray ye the lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into His harvest.’
If we know anything of prayer, let us make it a point of conscience never to forget this solemn charge of our Lord’s. Let us settle it in our minds that it is one of the surest ways of doing good and stemming evil. Personal working for souls is good; giving money is good; but praying is best of all. By prayer we reach Him, whom work and money are alike in vain. We obtain the aid of the Holy Ghost. Money can pay agents; universities can give learning; bishops may ordain; congregations may elect: but the Holy Ghost alone can make ministers of the Gospel, and raise up lay workmen in the spiritual harvest who need not be ashamed. Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray!”
- J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
taken from: Expository Thoughts on Matthew