In challenging times, many Christians often quote the Old Testament verse found in 2 Chronicles 7:!4, where the Lord says “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” This conditional assurance from the Lord is often used to illustrate the promising power of prayer in general. In America, we often underestimate the power of prayer and rely a lot on humankind and its enterprise instead. There is one man I know of who will tell you different from where he is today. His name is Damar Hamlin.
The Buffalo Bills defensive back, as you may know, suffered cardiac arrest during the Monday night game with the Cincinnati Bengals. He collapsed after making a tackle. The incredible medical team went into action and revived him on the field before moving him to the hospital, where he remained in critical condition. Players on both teams were shaken and many prayed. The Bills gathered on the field and knelt in prayer. There were signs that went up from the stands that encouraged prayer. Damar Hamlin was fighting for his life and all those who were watching the game in both the stands and on television turned their attention to him. This nation, well at least the football nation, was united in prayer. For these, there was no politics, prejudice or race. We were all one in prayer for this young man.
Now I know there are those who dislike the NFL for various reasons, and they have their right to their opinions. I also know that in my nearly 14 seasons working as an advisor to the NFL that there are many, if not a majority, of Christians working in and playing football. Current players, former players, coaches, even television personalities all joined together in prayer. Bills Coach Sean McDermott made no bones about it at a news conference, saying, “I’m a Christian man to begin with, and I’m not afraid to say that.” Dr. Allan Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer, told reporters: “I just want to add my own personal words of continued prayers for Damar, for his family, for the entire Buffalo organization and everyone that’s been affected by this set of events as we move forward.” The doctors attending to Hamlin said they felt the prayers.
NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent said, “My greatest fear had flashed in front of me at that particular moment. But for the goodness and grace of God, Damar is still here and he’s still fighting.” This is the amazing mystery about prayer. Everyone involved, prayed and acted. They did their part–the medical team, the football team, the NFL executives and employees, Hamlin’s family, and Damar Hamlin. Most of all, God Almighty. He heard from heaven and he responded. To God be the glory! By Friday, Hamlin was communicating and the breathing tube was removed. Saturday, doctors said his neurological function was “excellent.” The world watched the miracle and power of prayer in action with Damar Hamlin. May it be a lesson to all that we can come together in unity, pray, act, and see the hand of God move in answering prayer.