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Prayers Began After Hamlin Collapsed, Bills Chaplain Says They Haven't Stopped: 'Grateful for God's Mercy'

01-13-2023
The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts gather on the field before their NFL football game in support of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts gather on the field before their NFL football game in support of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

ANALYSIS

Sometimes it's hard to look at a tragic event and see any good side to it. But the sudden collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on the field during a game in Cincinnati has become a powerful rallying cry for faith, and it just won't quit.

It's not only Hamlin's survival of that moment, and being brought back to life. It's also his miraculous recovery since then. Some say it was all due to the fact that millions of people in the U.S. and around the world turned to God in prayer for his divine help and have continued to pray.  

It's undeniable that the shocking moment caused faith to surge to the forefront. And for his teammates and many others, that's where it has stayed. That's what the Buffalo Bills chaplain is saying.

The impromptu prayer movement began when Hamlin, 24, experienced cardiac arrest after a routine tackle during the Bills' Jan. 2 game against the Bengals. 

The game was officially postponed and then canceled several days later. 

As CBN News reported on Wednesday, Hamlin was released from a hospital in Buffalo, New York. He had spent two days undergoing tests at Buffalo General Medical Center after making it out of ICU at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Immediately after his collapse, prayer became the focal point as whole NFL teams bowed to pray together, and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky even paused on the air to pray aloud for Hamlin. 

After Hamlin became conscious, he was able to communicate with the world from his hospital bed, saying God was using his ordeal to speak to the world.

And it's true. Everyone from lawmakers to sports journalists has pointed to the power of prayer in the aftermath. 

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Thessalonica, found in the Bible's New Testament book of Thessalonians, he reminds them to "pray without ceasing."

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Bills Chaplain Says New Doors of Faith Have Been Opened for Some Players

Buffalo Bills team chaplain Len Vanden Bos agrees, telling Baptist Press (BP) many of the Bills players immediately went down on one knee to petition for Hamlin in front of God's throne. 

And he says the incident opened up some of the players to embrace the power of faith in an ongoing manner.

"When Damar went down a lot of us began to pray right away," Vanden Bos said. "We have a strong core of players and coaches who are followers of Jesus, so that was our immediate reaction."

"Some guys were praying. Some were crying. A lot of us were in disbelief," he said. "We prayed on the field. We prayed in the locker room. We prayed when we got to the hospital."

Those prayers had a multifaceted effect on all involved, the Bills team chaplain told BP

"God invites us to pray by listening to Him as well as sharing our hearts and requests," Vanden Bos said. "Prayer's purpose is to build this relationship and to align us with His will. It's in this alignment that we grow and learn how to follow Him."

The Bills players have remained open to prayer since they left Cincinnati, according to the chaplain.  

He has encouraged them with a verse from the Book of Hebrews: "Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need."

"We had a full team prayer that first day I shared that with them," he told BP. "It's been an opportunity to reach some guys who might not normally come to Bible study or chapel."

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'3 Realities' Each of Us Has to Face

According to the outlet, last Sunday before the Bills played the New England Patriots, while many fans in Highmark Stadium were seen wearing Hamlin's jersey with its number 3, Vanden Bos gave each of the players a "3 Realities" card containing three Bible verses:

  • God is with us. (Psalm 23:4)
  • Time is limited for each of us. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
  • Jesus brings us the victory over death. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

After the game, Vanden Bos and Patriots team chaplain Jua Robinson met players from both teams for a midfield prayer. 

"The Patriots have a good core of believers on the team, and we have a strong brotherhood with them," Vanden Bos told BP. "We're rivals, for sure. But after the game, a lot of guys were filled with gratitude for what we had seen God do in Damar's life."

The Bills chaplain said there are many strong Christians on every NFL team.

"You realize they're people just trying to figure it out and do their best like everyone else, except they have a spotlight on them. It was a long and emotional week, but we are so grateful for God's mercy on Damar."

What is prayer? Does God hear me if I pray? Your important questions about prayer are addressed here.

Need prayer? We’re available 24/7. Call (800) 700-7000 or request prayer.

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