Damar Hamlin’s collapse and cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football was something none of us will forget.
It also reveals where we are as a culture, and where we can go from here.
No matter what the pundits or cultural elites might suggest, America is a spiritually-hungry nation. When we see a problem, we want to fix it. That’s why talk about prayer and miracles on national platforms has become common. It’s a good sign, and now is the time to lean in. For Damar’s sake, and for our own.
My day job is as a pastor, but I have no interest in making you more “religious.” Meaning, I don’t want to give you a checklist which makes you feel good when you achieve it, but guilty when you don’t. I’m not interested in adding baggage or weight to your life.
The best thing we can do for Damar is continue to pray for him. The most recent reports are that he is improving. Even if he is 100% healed as you read this, these principles will help in every situation.
Maybe you don’t know how—there’s no shame in that. I’ve had the chance to study the Bible and engage in life-changing prayer for more than four decades. Below are six best-practices for prayer that I’ve learned along the way and use in my own life.
God answers every prayer one of three ways: yes, no, or not yet. I want us to band together to get yeses for Damar—because it will be a miracle not just for him, but for you. It will build your faith, and put you on a new level with God. This isn’t a formula, because prayer is about building a relationship, not punching numbers. But these are the insights I use when I pray, and I’ve found them helpful to many.
1. PRAY WITH THE RIGHT MINDSET ABOUT GOD Too many of us approach God as an orphan. Scripture is clear that He adopts us (Romans 8:15) and actually wants to take care of us (Matthew 6:26). Stop caveating your prayers with weenie-boy and weenie-girl language like “God, if it’s your will… ”. It’s not God’s will for anyone (including Damar) to be hurting, suffering, or sick. Jesus didn’t hedge his bets when he prayed and you shouldn’t either. Come to God, and ask with confidence, because He loves you.
2. TAKE INITIATIVE
Of the 41 miracles Jesus performs in the Bible, 34 of them start when someone asks Jesus to help. And most of the other seven still involve the healed person taking initiative—washing their eyes, showing themselves to priests, etc. God is looking for the spiritually aggressive people who are ready to move and ready to ask for help. Don’t just think—pray and ask.
3. PRAY WITH PERSISTENCE
Jesus made up a story once, to get this point across. In it, he told of a poor widow looking for help from a corrupt judge. She knocked on his door, day after day, until he granted her request. If that’s how a corrupt judge acts, won’t God be even more gracious to people who persist in their prayers? Don’t give up if you don’t get an answer right away. Even Jesus had to perform one miracle twice (Mark 8:22-25).
4. PRAY WITH BELIEF
God’s not looking for people with 100% belief and no doubt. Jesus says you need only a mustard seed-sized faith to be able to see miraculous things happen. You have to believe enough to ask, to pray, and to risk nothing happening.
5. PRAY WITH CONVICTION
Bueller? Bueller? Too many of us pray this way. Don’t come to God monotone, feelingless, and apathetic. Pray like you mean it. Pray like God wants to hear from you. (He does.) Pray with conviction. God can handle all of your emotions—anger, fear, frustration, joy, and everything in between. So bring them to Him. If your prayers don’t move you, why would they move God?
6. PRAY WITH SPECIFICITY
Don’t be generic, be specific. Pray for Damar’s heart to be in rhythm; pray for his vital signs to improve; pray for his lungs to work without assistance; pray for his doctors and nurses to be attentive and wise; pray for his family to be comforted; pray for his coach and teammates to be at peace. Get into all the details with God. He can handle it.
God isn’t waiting for the perfect formula or string of words. He’s just waiting for you to try. We are spiritual people, capable of entering a spiritual battle on Damar’s behalf.
Want a guideline to follow? This is a prayer I’m praying for him. No matter what you believe about God, you can join me.
God, I thank you for what You’re doing through this situation with Damar. We don’t like it, I want him healed. I pray for healing in the name of Jesus. You are Healer, You knit him together in his mother’s womb and You can knit together anything that is wrong in his heart, anything disconnected in the electrical signal from his brain to his heart. I pray You have every system firing in synchronicity. And I pray that You would have him come to a place of health and wholeness and beauty and restoration. I pray that he would be able to give stories of how faithful You are. You are faithful, I am calling on Your reputation, Your reputation is at stake here, God. I remind You of Your faithfulness, I remind You that You care. And I ask You to act accordingly and to give him healing and to relieve the stress and pressure from his family, teammates and loved ones. I ask all this according to the name and identity of Jesus. Amen.
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