Here’s Why Prayer Isn’t About Getting What We Want

By now, if you haven’t heard of Damar Hamlin, now is the time to stop what you are doing and do a little Google search of his name. God miraculously saved this young man’s life and responded mercifully to the power of prayer that spread throughout the nation like wildfire.  

Damar Hamlin is a football safety for the Buffalo Bills. During a Monday Night Football game on January 2, 2023 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest and he was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The confusion, emotion, urgency, and helplessness led these great athletes to turn to our Lord, kneeling together in prayer.

Video circulated online of Bengals fans reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the stands while others held prayer vigils outside The University of Cincinnati Medical Center. This tragic event may have ignited one of the biggest social media prayer chains in recent history.  

Praise God for answering our prayers. Hamlin has made a miraculous recovery and just over a week after this terrifying ordeal, he has been discharged from the hospital and can continue his rehab at home.

Although, even Hamlin himself hinted that perhaps this ordeal was less about him and more about the power of God with a tweet saying, “Nothing I Want More Than To Be Running Out That Tunnel With My Brothers. God Using Me In A Different Way Today.” 

Shortly after his road to recovery, “Prayer Works!” headlines began to pop up everywhere online, in hashtags and video reels.  

Can I share something with you? I’ve never liked the phrase, “Prayer works”. When I hear that phrase, I picture myself playing the claw machine at the arcade. It’s a game we play with a triad of trepidation, anxiety and a little bit of hope. When we center that claw over the prize and hit the button to lower the claw, we can exclaim, “It worked! It worked!”, as the prize we wanted falls into our hands. 

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 NIV

While I’m elated that “prayer worked” and that God has saved Hamlin’s life amid the excitement and resuscitation of prayer across people’s hearts and lips, I couldn’t help but feel that the power of prayer was becoming sensationalized to something that is more transactional in nature rather than relational.  

 What if God did not heal Hamlin? Does that mean that our proverbial claw machine is broken? Defunct? Out of order? In a matter of days, we could have been flooded with the hashtags: #prayerdoesntwork, #idontwantyourprayers, #prayersarentenough, or #godsnotreal.  

I don’t believe that God is in the business of making sure that we “get what we prayed for”, nor do I believe that Hamlin’s healing and recovery depends on our prayers. Our God is too big to be dependent on that.  

What God has shown me over the years is that prayer is less about the answers and more about the most precious and treasured opportunity for me to talk with my Father. He’s no longer a distant God from whom I am separated, but the Savior of the world with whom I am intimately connected through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.  That has moved me not only to a place of blessed hope, but to the chief cornerstone where my confidence resides.  

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 NIV

This year, can we move from a place of praying and hoping for good gifts from our Father (which He loves to give) to celebrating that HE IS the good  and perfect gift. He created a way for us to present our requests before Him while allowing us to approach Him and converse with Him with an unbreakable and intimate bond, in which He deserves all the glory.  

Let us pray.  

Devin Almonte

Host of Encouraging STAR Stories, STAR 93.3

Watch Kristen and Luke discuss Damar Hamlin’s tragic injury and the power of prayer


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Devin Almonte

1 Comment

  1. Russell on January 23, 2023 at 11:06 am

    Great article, Devin! I think the key to prayer is in John 5:14 where it says “if we ask anything according to his will”. Just like you said, it isn’t a game where we ask for and get everything that we want. I think of it like this: if my children ask me for something that isn’t good for them, I am going to say no. The same is true if we ask God for something that isn’t good for us. He know what we are going to ask even before we ask it. He also know what will happen if he grants our prayer, both good and bad. Even though we ‘think’ it will be good for us, God knows the true outcome. We ought to thank our Heavenly Father for the unanswered prayers just as much, if not more than the answered prayers.

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