(Guest post by Grant Vissers. Grant serves as associate pastor at St. Paul’s Leaskdale north of Toronto, Canada. Grant is passionate about connecting with and helping other church leaders.) 

I recently preached at an induction service for a friend. He is beginning a new ministry as lead pastor of a church close to where I serve.

He asked that I preach on prayer—something that got me thinking about the place of prayer in my life as a leader, and the place of prayer in the life of the church.

If I’m honest, prayer is something that I need to fight at to be consistent. As a church staff we try to prioritize prayer. We begin our work week Tuesday morning with prayer, and Sunday morning we gather to pray before our services begin.

The theologian Karl Barth once said,

“To clasp your hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

I like that quote. It resonates with my heart, because it reminds me that prayer is something God uses, not me.

I can’t reduce the disorder in the world, only God. I believe prayer is central to the mission of the church. Not because it is a tool to be used, but because it’s the tool God uses to align our hearts, our mission, and our vision with His.

So, how do we pursue God’s heart through prayer?

We allow God to pursue our heart through prayer.

1. In and through prayer God aligns our heart with the Father’s heart.

Alignment is important on any team or in any organization. Alignment isn’t so much about consensus as it is about each member of a team taking ownership of the mission, vision and business goals of the organization.

On a well-aligned team each individual knows what they are doing, why they are doing it and what the end goal is. A mis-aligned team is dangerous for any organization. It creates sideways energy, and sometimes backward energy.

Just like a misaligned team, a misaligned heart is a recipe for disaster.

Prayer is the relationship God uses to align our heart with His.

It’s how our vision is aligned with God’s vision.

2. In and through prayer God aligns our mission with the Father’s mission.

The mission of the church has always been for the world. The church’s mission, it’s calling, is to preach the word and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). I like it said best this way, God has been at work long before we existed. Our job is to get involved with what God is already doing.

Through prayer God aligns our mission with His mission. Through prayer, our priorities, our mission and vision are all aligned with the mission of God. Prayer is the relationship God uses to send us out into the world with our own unique mission.

As Christians, our vocation is to be a witness to the event of the resurrection of Jesus. Through prayer the church is sent out into the world with our mission—to be witnesses.

What about you? Is there anything else you would add to this (short) list about how God uses prayer in your own life and the life of the church?