You Can Do More Than Pray

By Tom Castor | April 17, 2023 |

That heading comes from a quote that I found lurking around in my memory a few days ago. It is from S. D. Gordon (1859-1936), an influential lay-worker and missionary from a century ago. The full quote goes like this:

“You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”

 I wrote in another place of our recent trip to Africa. I have not quite shaken the questions that grew out of our visit. Those musings inevitably lead me to ask the question, What do we do about the “laborers are few” problem? And that was closely followed by this one: And you? What are you going to do about it?

That’s where the S.D. Gordon quote comes in. It helps launch our quest to find the answer quite nicely. Is it the complete answer? No, there is more. But it points us to a wonderfully biblical place to start.

Here are three preliminary thoughts with a single, STEP ONE conclusion.

God works through our prayers to bring laborers into the harvest. 

  • “…ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest-ready fields.” (Mathew 9:38, NET)
  • “…ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2, NET)

God works through our prayers to create open opportunities for those laborers when they go.

  • “At the same time, pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…(Colossians 4:3, NET)
  • “Finally, pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among you…(2 Thessalonians 3:1, NET)

God works through our prayers to make those laborers courageous and effective wherever they go. 

  • “And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage.” (Acts 4:29, NET)
  • “Pray for me also, that I may be given the right words when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:20, NET)
  • “…pray…that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ. Pray that I may make it known as I should.” (Colossians 4:3-4, NET)

What can we, what can I do about the “laborers are few” problem?

STEP ONE then is: pray.

 Here is what Step One will look like for me for the next while. Whenever I hear about or read about a place that is dark, difficult, and aggressively antagonistic to the gospel, I will pray for that place, on the spot, and add it to my list.

There is no shortage of those places. Too many, I think.

And perhaps I can do more. 

But first things first.

Tom Castor

Thomas Castor, founder of Clear and Simple Media Group, is a seasoned writer and communicator who has been delivering content with clarity and simplicity for 30 years.