From Section 2, “Pray: Like a Disciple of Jesus,” Chapter 4)
Align Yourself with God
“Thy Kingdom come…” This index expresses a desire for His Kingdom to be present in our life. It means to have a desire to be aligned with Him. Alignment is fueled by a desire to be on the side of God Most High. When I was a kid, I loved playing basketball. But I wasn’t very good at it, in spite of the hours spent playing and practicing. We had one guy in our school that was really good. Mike could handle the ball, move fast, and shoot the lights out, and he was my friend.
Whenever we had a pickup game in the gym, Mike was always selected to be one of the two captains. Because I was not very good, I was never among the first to be picked as the captains took turns calling out the names of the boys they would choose for their team. Mike was a very talented player, and everyone knew from experience that his team would be the winning team. So, each turn would produce a chorus of boys saying, “Pick me, Mike, pick me!” Getting picked by Mike was a surefire way to be on the winning team.
Anytime we scheduled a time to meet for a game I would want Mike to come. It was sort of my non-Christian way of praying “May Mike come,” because I hoped to play on whatever team he was on. Mike always ended up picking me because we were good friends. I never doubted him, and he never let me down. My name would always ring out as Mike would say, “I pick Jim.” With pride and confidence I would take my position on his team, and we never lost a game! My allegiance was to my friend Mike, and I had no doubt about his ability to play and win the game, in spite of the handicap of having me on his team.
It should be like that in our prayer life. When we are solid in our knowledge of God, remembering who He is and how He never loses, it should produce a desire in our heart to be aligned with Him. We do not have to cry out, “Pick me God, pick me” because Jesus already did so, while we were yet in our sin (Romans 5:8). It is good to know that our Lord did not pick His “Talmidim” from among those thought to be the best, according to the world. He picked you and me to be on team Jesus, and winning does not depend on us. It depends on Him. The question is, if we believe that to be true, do we trust Him enough to live for Him no matter what? Do we trust God to answer our prayer and do what is best, even when the answer is not what we wanted to hear? The second line of the model prayer is an index to remind us of the importance of being aligned with Him: a desire to be on His team, so to speak. It goes beyond a desire to enter into His kingdom after we die. A true disciple wants God’s Kingdom here and now, its existence evidenced by a life well lived.
In worship, the first index of the Lord’s Prayer, we rehearse our knowledge of Him, which encourages our confidence in Him even when everything around us seems to be falling apart. It helps to fuel a desire to say, “Here I am, God, pick me, pick me! I want to be on your team.” This is the second index to prayer: alignment with God followed by submission to His will. This alignment requires us to die to ourselves in order to live for Him, which forms the basis of our understanding of what it means to be righteous.
Frequently I hear someone say, “I know I should pray more, but…,” or “I know I should study the Bible more, but…” But what? The most honest way to finish the sentence is, “But my first allegiance is really toward something else.” Ouch!
The truth is, if we live our lives while holding out on God and not turning everything over to Him, we will never become effective at praying. We cannot achieve consistent answers to our prayers if we continue to live for ourselves and give him only a small piece of our lives. Jesus died so we can live. To be His disciples we have to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow His plan for our lives rather than pursuing our own desires. Until we swear our unconditional allegiance to the Kingdom of God, we will never have a prayer life that is vibrant, effective, and supernatural in its effectiveness.
As adopted citizens of heaven, Jesus expects our focus to change. This is not to say that we don’t need certain things to live. The Lord knows what we need so we can be equipped to do His will. In Matthew 6:33 He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” People who seek His Kingdom can expect answers to prayer, including the things we need. A disciple will be provided with all these things because the desire of the righteous is His Kingdom. One aligned this way will want what God is already predisposed to do. When we are asking God to do what He already wants to do, we can be guaranteed that our prayer will be answered with a resounding “YES!”