January 2, 2023 is a day that football players will never forget. It is the day Buffalo Bills cornerback Damar Hamlin collapsed to the ground after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. He had gone into cardiac arrest. Viewers watched horrified as paramedics rushed to the field, performing life-saving treatment to get his heart beating again. They then took Hamlin to a local hospital before being transferred to a Buffalo hospital. There were many responses to this tragedy, but the biggest response has been prayer. Buffalo Bills chaplain, Len Vanden Bos told Baptist Press that as soon as Hamlin went down, many of them started praying. Fans took to Twitter saying they were praying for Hamlin. All 32 NFL teams had “Pray for Damar” on their Twitter avatars. And most notably, ESPN analyst and devout Christian Dan Orlovsky prayed for Hamlin live on ESPN. While Christians across the country cried out to God, asking Him to be with Damar and heal him, God heard their prayers. As of today, the cornerback whose heart stopped beating on the field is now home with his family. If this situation has shown us anything, it is that God answers prayer.
This is not something that is new to God though. He has always been a God who hears and answers the prayers of his people. We can look at the prayer of King Hezekiah, recorded in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Hezekiah becomes sick to the point of death. The prophet Isaiah comes to him and tells him that God said he’s going to die (2 Kings 20:1). Hezekiah then prays to God, telling Him how he has been faithful to Him as he cries his eyes out (2 Kings 20:2-3). The Lord then says in verse 5, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.” While this servant of God was sick to the point of death, the Lord heard his prayers and healed him.
We can also look at the way the Lord answered Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1. She prays to the Lord at the temple, asking him to give her a son (1 Sam. 1:11). The prophet Eli eventually comes to her thinking she’s drunk but tells her that God has heard her prayer and will grant what she asks for (1 Sam. 1:17). She eventually gives birth to her son, Samuel, whose name means “God has heard” (1 Sam. 1:20). This faithful woman of God, who was barren, cried out to the Lord in her distress and he answered her prayer by giving her the son.
We find another example in the book of Judges. Samson, the judge who is known for his strength, is betrayed by Delilah, a woman he loved. Chapter 16 records him revealing to her that the secret to his strength is his hair, and if it is cut, he will be powerless (Judges 16:15-17). Delilah calls the Philistines to come cut his hair and they capture him and gouge out his eyes (16:18-20). He’s then called before the Philistine leaders into the temple of Dagon (Judges 16:23-25). While leaning against pillars in the temple he calls out to God asking for his strength back so he can bring down this temple on the Philistines (16:26-28). Samson then regains his strength and brings the temple down (16:29-30). This captured warrior cried out to God hoping to regain his strength to take down the enemies of God and the Lord answers his prayer.
We can also turn to the book of Acts. In chapter 12, King Herod arrests the apostle Peter and has him thrown into prison (12:2-4). Then verse 5 says, “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” We then read in the next section of an angel of the Lord waking Peter up in his cell (12:7) and leading him into the city (12:8-10). Peter realizes God has sent an angel to rescue him and goes to a house where people are gathered praying for him (12:11-12). The church cried out to God about Peter, who was unjustly thrown into prison, and he answered their prayer by miraculously freeing him and bringing him to their house.
All throughout the bible we see examples of God answering the prayers of his people. All throughout human history we see the same thing. No book can be written that could contain all the prayers God has answered and will answer in the future. God truly is a God who hears the prayers of his people and loves to answer them. Damar Hamlin’s case is just one of many examples of that.