I am praying for 100,000 Christians to be called into the ministry and into missions. During the past several months, I have been part of a group of believers who are fervently praying for a powerful wave of revival to sweep our land and for vast numbers of lost people to be saved. This group is also praying that God will call 100,000 people into ministry and missions.
As the president of a college that is equipping Christian leaders for the 21st century, I am very excited about the prospect of 100,000 new ministers and missionaries serving on the field!
Is this a request that is worthy to be included in our prayers? Should large numbers of believers join together to ask God to call 100,000 new ministers and missionaries? I am firmly convinced that this should be a major focus in our praying, and I base this on the following three reasons.
First, we should pray for large additions to the number of ministers and missionaries because Jesus instructs us to do so. In Matthew 9:35-38, we read the account of Jesus being moved with compassion as He looked upon the multitudes who were “like sheep having no shepherd” (v. 36). As He observed the situation, Jesus presented His disciples with a predicament. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (v. 37). What did Jesus instruct His disciples to do? Note carefully His answer in verse 38: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
In North Carolina, there are multitudes of sheep without a shepherd. Among churches affiliated with our Baptist state convention, 15% of the churches are without pastors. This amounts to more than 400 churches with vacant pulpits. The number would be drastically higher if we include other denominations and other states across America.
The situation becomes even more alarming when one considers the number of people around the world who have never heard the gospel. The International Mission Board has identified 7,361 unreached people groups, which comprises 4.7 billion people who need to hear the message of salvation. This motivates me to pray, “Lord, please send more pastors and missionaries!”
The second reason we should pray for more ministers and missionaries is the biblical precedent of God’s call. Just a quick perusal of the Bible allows us to see God actively calling individuals such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the disciples of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, as well as a host of others. Does God operate differently in the 21st century? Has God stopped calling people into the ministry? I think not!
I believe Christ’s followers should live a missional lifestyle, and that it is essential to discover, develop and deploy spiritual gifts in service to the Lord. We are to be salt and light in a dark world. I have no problem believing that God calls people to serve as businesspersons, teachers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, etc. I affirm these callings, but the point that I am emphatically making is this: there are some who are specifically called to be ministers and missionaries!
When the Apostle Paul considered the lost multitudes who needed to hear the gospel, he asked two very important questions. “How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent?” (Romans 10:14c-15a). Charles Spurgeon quoted the old Puritans as saying, “God had only one Son, and He made a preacher of Him.” Let’s join together in asking the Lord to send some more preachers.
The third reason for praying that God would call more ministers and missionaries is that a God-initiated call leads to stability and endurance in ministry. In his own words, the Apostle Paul clearly believed that God called him and referred to this event as God “putting me in the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).
Paul did not choose ministry as one would choose a vocation. Instead, God chose Paul for the ministry! The certainty of God’s calling enabled Paul to face incredible persecutions and difficulties while serving the Lord and to finish his course faithfully.
Sadly, the Barna Research Group indicates that 38% of pastors in the U.S. have considered quitting full-time ministry in the last year. In my own experience as a pastor, there were times when a clear sense of God’s call compelled me to continue serving, even when ministry became extremely difficult.
If a person takes up ministry as he would another vocation, it will be easy for him to lay it down. If he is in ministry because God called him to be there, God will give him the strength to endure. A clear sense of God’s call makes all the difference!
Will you join me in praying that 100,000 believers will be called into ministry and into missions? This is a God-sized request that only He can answer. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” That means our biggest problem is not unanswered prayer; it is unoffered prayer. I invite you to join me in asking “the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers” into His fields.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dr. David Horton is president of Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, N.C.)