Some may complain: “Why pray God send out laborers to the harvest? Shouldn’t He be concerned enough on His own to do that before we ask?” This is shallow thinking, friends.
First, as followers of Christ, we do as we’re told. The Lord instructs us with a reasonable request: to ask for what we need, lest we begin to think that we already deserve that which we have not yet received. Everything good comes from the generous hand of God, but we are borrowers, beggars all, dependent on His outpouring generosity, and it is only right that we recognize our state before presuming God’s as benefactor. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Mt. 7:7-8). We’ve received our instructions, so why do we hesitate to pray fervently and faithfully, not only for our welfare but for that of the whole Church?
We are also instructed to ask that we might be moved to supply what we can, lest we take the gifts of the giver for granted. Where else do the laborers come from but from among us? If we want more laborers, it would behoove us to live in such a way as to inspire those among us, or even ourselves, to become laborers. We would do well to raise our children with such intentions and to speak to one another with unified interest that more and better laborers are indeed wanted. Or is this the problem, that we don’t really want laborers? More priests and religious means more charity to support them, it means more diligence in following through with the faith we profess to believe, investing ourselves without reserve, just as we would expect from those laboring for our salvation.
St. Augustine’s advice still applies to our age and times: "Pray as if everything depends on God; and act as if everything depends on you." He is merely repeating Our Lord’s mandate. Prayer discloses the secret desires of the heart, and where our heart is, there our treasure lies. Are we willing to earnestly draw from our hearts such a commitment to God and one another, to move mountains with faith because that is really our desire, rather than hope the mountains move themselves because it would be so much easier? I must ask myself these questions as well: do I really desire to set aside the comforts of the flesh for the care of souls? Is faith my priority and the salvation of my neighbor my goal? I can assure you, if it isn’t, I’m in the wrong business. I’d go further and complain that this is the reason the the Church is in such a mess, because we lack good laborers, but first I must remove the beam in my eye before removing the speck in my brother’s. To do that successfully, I request your prayers as well. When we are praying for the laborers as well as for their increase in numbers, it seems then we are beginning to pray as the Lord has instructed us. If we lack good laborers, it is partly because we are not praying for them.