In the early part of October, the Houston Texans played the Dallas Cowboys at the Cowboys’ state-of-the-art facility. Much was made about this battle between the two NFL teams from Texas and how the winner of this game would be given bragging rights in the state. The visiting team usually enters a hostile stadium, but Cowboys’ officials were upset that the Texans’ fans were in such large numbers and made enough noise that the Cowboys could not hear the snap count from QB Tony Romo and had to go to a silent count. A silent count is when the ball is snapped to the quarterback on movement from the quarterback or some other signal, rather than the traditional “hut, hut.”
When I read the article about the Cowboys’ adjustment, I immediately thought of myself and other believers that are surrounded by the noise of the world. There are times when the noise and the allure of the world is deafening and we cannot seem to get our signals right, falling into sins of commission (where we do what we are not supposed to do) and also sins of omission (where we do not do what we are supposed to do). We can find ourselves even in the midst of those that are supporting us, but the noise around us overwhelms those that support us.
Fortunately, we have the “silent count” of prayer. I have never met a Christian that spoke negatively of prayer, but I have found that the vast majority struggle with praying. While we know the power of prayer, prayer is often neglected in our lives due to the other demands we face day-to-day. Churches have proclaimed that “we are people of prayer,” but prayer is often a “red phone for help.” The article linked from LifeWay pointed out that people often use prayer as a resource for help, rather than daily communication with the Lord.
Peter told the persecuted church scattered throughout the world to be “sober-minded” (1 Peter 5:8). Being sober-minded is a key to using the silent count of prayer. Peter would agree that the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is that one controls his temperament while the other is controlled by it. To put his sentiment as clearly as possible: be clear-headed.
Many in the world live constantly looking for an escape. They look forward to the evening and the weekend when they can “turn off their minds.” They desire an escape from reality. That is why so many get home and hit the bottle- to escape- and they are not clear-headed.
Believers are to be clear-minded, clear-thinking. We are to have our mental faculties with us at all times. The value of this is “so that you may pray.” Our clear-headedness is for the sake of prayer. The mark of a Christian at the end of the age is a person in prayer. Could it be that the strength of our private prayer life is an indication of our progress in self-control and sober-mindedness? If so, then most of us need to get busy before we are asked to meet and speak with Jesus face to face.
Peter heard Jesus’ words in the garden, “The time is at hand.” He did not completely understand then, but now he uses the language of the garden. The hour is evil, the devil is active, and our minds must get ready for the onslaught of the last days.
In the article linked above, when they pray, most Americans (82 percent) typically focus on their friends and family or their own problems (74 percent). A little more than half (54 percent) pray about good things happening in their life, while more than a third pray for their future prosperity (36 percent). Only about 12 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for government officials, and few (5 percent) pray for celebrities. Among other things people have ever prayed for are parking spots (7 percent), other people to be fired (5 percent), or to avoid being caught speeding (7 percent). Sports teams have received a bit more prayer support (13 percent) while about one in five (21 percent) Americans who pray say they have prayed to win the lottery. Fifteen percent have prayed something bad they did will not be discovered. More than a third of Americans (37 percent) who pray say they have prayed for their enemies, and four in 10 (41 percent) have prayed for people who have mistreated them, which the New Testament instructs people to do. More than a third (38 percent) typically pray for people affected by natural disasters. But only one in five pray for people of other faiths or people of no faith.
Those statistics embarrass me because we pray very little for things of Kingdom value. It is no wonder we are losing ground in our world. We need to go to the silent count!