What the world observed after the night of January 2nd certainly became a moving experience, with a stirring devotion to prayer. Expressions of prayer were commonplace for several weeks after Buffalo defensive back Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed.
WORLD Magazine, on its website, stated: “Almost immediately after the incident, ESPN showed Bills head coach Sean McDermott gathering his players and coaches together to pray for Hamlin. Newscasters, fans, and players from across the NFL followed suit on social media.
Former NFL quarterback, now ESPN commentator, Dan Orlovsky spontaneously led a prayer on the air. A CBN.com article quoted the sportscaster, who said:
…We just want to pray, truly come to You and pray for strength for Damar, for healing for Damar, for comfort for Damar, to be with his family, to give them peace. If we didn’t believe that prayer worked, we wouldn’t ask this of You, God. I believe in prayer, we believe in prayer, and we lift up Damar Hamlin’s name in Your name, Amen.”
Sports Spectrum reported:
Reflecting on everything his team’s been through in the past week, head coach Sean McDermott praised God for the ways He’s been at work in such difficult circumstances.
“I’m a man of faith, and it’s just fun to watch and be around a good group of people that work so hard towards a common goal,” McDermott said in his postgame press conference. “And they care so much in this case about Damar and all their teammates. Like I said, God is so good, and I believe — obviously an unfortunate situation — but God has shown Himself through this situation in so many ways.”
CBN quoted from a columnist named Joshua Arnold, who wrote this for The Washington Stand: “…When unexpected, unexplained tragedy strikes, ordinary citizens and influential people across America’s institutions alike turn to prayer.” He added: “…What is appropriate in a crisis is prayer, as thousands of Americans have recognized this week.”
Damar Hamlin was out of the hospital fairly quickly and showed up at a Bills playoff game not long thereafter, as well as the Super Bowl. I believe God used his situation to do what He does so well – showing His love and bringing glory to His name.
A Decision Magazine article reported on a survey conducted in mid-January, some three weeks after Hamlin’s collapse. It was conducted by Summit.org and McLaughlin & Associates. It revealed that out of 1000 people indicating they were likely voters in a general election: “67.3%…believe that public calls for prayer after a national tragedy are effective in light of the public outpouring of prayer for NFL player Damar Hamlin; 19.7 percent believe such prayers are pointless, and 13.1% say they don’t know.”
Broken down by age, you can find these percentages of those who “believe that public calls for prayer are effective.”
54.7% of 18 to 29-year-olds
62.3% of those aged 30-40
67.8% of voters aged 41-55
69.9% of voters aged 56-65
77.3% of voters over age 65.
Jeff Myers, President of Summit.org, stated:
“Unfortunately, young Americans seem more cynical about prayer, with a higher percentage than other age groups saying such calls to prayer are pointless,” he added. “But with many young athletes now publicly expressing their faith, perhaps the hearts of the rising generation will be more open to the very real power of faith and prayer.”
Franklin Graham is also quoted; he said: “There’s nothing more powerful for believers to do in a time of need than to call out to God,” adding, “God promises to hear and answer” the prayers of “His people according to His gracious will.”
One can surmise that there is a renewed emphasis in prayer – it has certainly been a focus in times of crisis. But, we can continue to remember that public prayer may not be an indicator of a private walk with Jesus Christ, the One through whom we can really come into the presence of God. So, He is certainly issuing an invitation – the question is: will people respond? And will that response be a long-term expression rather than a short-term demonstration?
Fact is, God is inviting us every single day to come into His presence, to walk with Him, to serve Him with our whole hearts. Those of us who have been born again have experienced the power of a changed life through salvation. But, we have to decide each day if we are going to walk in that and surrender to God rather than attempt to live life on our own. Prayer is a wonderful conduit through which we communicate and commune with our God – He is calling, He’s inviting, it’s in store for us. The question for each of us: will we respond?