A very public sports calamity moves a whole nation to a sudden collective urge to pray for one man in crisis for his life. The US is a praying nation indeed. ◊
After a New Year’s weekend of spectacularly entertaining college football bowl games, many fans continued watching the NFL’s Monday Night Football game featuring the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinati Bengals. As many are now aware, that game featured an on field collision between two players and the subsequent collapsing of one player (Damar Hamlin) who went into cardiac arrest.
The live TV and stadium audience, and soon a whole nation caught up in the story that night and afterwards, witnessed an outpouring of anguish and sorrow as they watched the reactions of both team’s players and coaches.
It seemed like everyone, Christian of not, was praying for Damar Hamlin as efficient medical teams administered CPR and then rushed him to a local Cincinnati hospital.
It did not look hopeful for the young 24-year-old Buffalo Bills player.
The Unity of Collective Prayer
What was hopeful was seeing, hearing, and reading of the sudden collective urge and call for prayer from players, announcers, fans, even news reporters. My wife and I were moved to pray in our living room that night for this young man, his family, and all impacted by this horrifying visual event.
What struck me was the sudden removal of any social and cultural barriers to faith in the Lord God via the transporting power we have through the Holy Spirit in the act of prayer.
Moreso when done collectively.
Calamity and tragedy bring us all closer together as we consider ours or others’ mortality. And many let down their guard and open up to the possibility that God is real and prayer has power.
As they say, “there are no atheists in foxholes.”
Prayer for a Man and a Nation
My prayer is for God’s will in this case, certainly petitioning for life and recovery for this young man (himself a strong Christian as it turns out), but also for God and the name of Jesus to be held up and glorified even in a dark situation.
As of this writing, Damar Hamlin is still in critical condition but is awake, breathing on his own, and communicating with doctors and even this morning on a team video call. It appears that his mind is intact and he will recover.
What an amazing testimony and platform this young man will have going forward! I now pray for his continued humility and surrendered life to Jesus and his Christian faith.
In or out of the game of football.
I pray that that Damar Hamilin will echo the prayer of the Apostle Paul:
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! – Philippians 1:18-22
Additionally, I pray for a seemingly secular nation that still has the strong undepinnings of a God-fearing nation. There is a new report out this week revealing that 88% of the voting members of the new 118th US Congress being sworn in this month are self-proclaimed Christians.1 This statistic has always been relatively high when compared to other citizens. Nevertheless, we can have hope and encouragement that our US nation will be ruled by men and women who fear God, assert His dominion and power, and submit themselves in their human leadership roles to be men and women of godliness and integrity.
May the weight of their human stature humble them before the God they proclaim by faith; that they may be worthy stewards of the responsibility bestowed on them. For the betterment of their country and fellow countrymen.
And if they need a reminder of where the heart and pulse of this nation really is, may they recall last Monday night when a game of football and a crisis of life and death brought a people to their collective knees in prayer.
Do you have real faith in the power of prayer?
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:18
1 Faith on the Hill – the Religious Composition of the 118th Congress, by Pew Research Center, January 3, 2023.
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I too rejoice in the public display of compassion and empathy for Damar Hamlin. Too often in our discourse, we take life for granted, and even fail to recognize or identify with the trauma and grief that results from a loss of life, or even potential loss of life. The medical teams did a phenomenal job bringing Hamlin back to life. Without their immediate action, his heart may never have restarted on the field.
We may never know if he would have recovered solely because of medical science and intervention, but we do know the prayers of the righteous avail much. Even if it means raising from the dead.
The Bible is clear that the day is coming when we will see such miracles take place before our eyes, even without medical professionals on hand. Most of the time, they will be righteous miracles where there is no doubt that prayer was the sole reason for the healing.