It’s OK to pray in public again.
What happened to restore prayer in the public square? Was it an amazing sermon, or did a notorious sinner repent at a big tent revival?
No. It wasn’t a preacher, a pariah, or a place.
It was Monday Night Football.
All it took was an outstanding safety, making an excellent open field tackle and then, shockingly, dropping dead seconds later.
Medical staff took the field as teammates and opponents took a knee in prayer. Tears flowed as CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) began and an AED (Automatic External defibrillator) was used. Seconds turned into minutes as players parted to clear a path for an ambulance. Teammates, opponents, and fans of both teams, in person (at the stadium) and watching on TV, prayed. The rivalry of two powerful teams became secondary as everyone prayed for 24-year-old Damar. The ambulance rushed off into the night leaving a void behind.
The Monday Night Football game was temporarily suspended. ESPN anticipated the players would begin warming up and play would resume. Everyone was in shock and prayers continued on the field, in the stands, in sports bars, and in homes. How else could one respond?
The Buffalo Bills requested prayers for Damar Hamlin and his family. The Cincinnati Bengals requested prayers for their young opponent. The NFL tweeted for “Prayers for Damar.”
A few tense days later doctors reported that Damar Hamlin had awoken asking, “Who won the game?” A doctor responded by saying, “You won the game of life.” Damar Hamlin took to social media to give thanks for the outpouring of support and prayers from across our great nation. Damar was discharged from the hospital and returned home. Thanks be to God! Team after team began games in prayer for Damar.
In my prior article, I reminded you of the value and fragile nature of life. I encouraged you to schedule a time for you and your friends, co-workers, church members, etc., to get trained in CPR & AEDs by calling the American Red Cross at (907) 456-5937 for training. Finally, I suggested that you pray for Damar Hamlin, his family, and teammates and for all who have lost a loved one way too soon.
A good outcome (Damar’s apparent recovery) does not change those reminders. Life remains valuable and fragile, training and equipment are needed. Does your church or job have an AED, tourniquet and trained members? Are you prepared? To be clear, I do not believe that prayer alone saved Damar Hamlin. Instead, I believe that it was a combination of trained and equipped emergency medical personnel and prayers. That is not always the case. I personally have witnessed trained and equipped medical professionals trying valiantly and unsuccessfully to save a life as prayers are said. Why some outcomes are positive and joyous and others are tragic and sorrowful, I do not know. Those are questions for God.
Stephen Reed is pastor at St. Paul Christian Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and chaplain for Police and Fire. Insight is sponsored by TVCC.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on February 19, 2023
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting