I wasn’t watching the game on Monday night when Damar Hamlin fell to the ground after a collision on the field. Ryan had gone to bed early because he wasn’t feeling well, and since he’d be more inclined to be watching football than anyone else in the house, I didn’t see it live. When it was time to sit with the kids as they were falling asleep, I checked Facebook. It became apparent very quickly, that I’d missed something significant. I saw a few cryptic posts like, “That was the most horrific thing I’ve seen on TV,” or “Oh my heart…prayers!” I dug a little deeper and soon saw the footage of Damar Hamlin getting hit, attempting to stand, and then falling to the ground. My heart in that moment broke.
As a lacrosse parent and coach's wife, I thought I knew immediately what had happened. In recent years, it’s become mandatory for players to have a pad that covers players’ hearts because, although it’s rare, a fast lacrosse ball to the heart can cause cardiac arrest. And although I was pretty sure I knew what happened, and that it’s a coach’s worst nightmare, that’s not the point of my post.
You see, as a result of such a tragic event, the nation was brought to its knees in prayer. When I saw the clip of Dan Orlovsky openly praying from the anchor desk at ESPN, my first thought was, “This guy has spent some time talking to his father in prayer.” It doesn’t appear that he asked permission from ESPN to pray, but he felt "led" to do it. Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about? Feeling led to do something and being obedient?
This whole situation has caused me to think about prayer -specifically about my relationship with prayer. I’ve had seasons where my days were marked by prayer and seasons where I barely uttered a word to God.The truth is, those seasons where I was in almost a constant dialogue with God were the best seasons. Not because my circumstances were better. In fact, it’s often in the hardest times we call out to God. Times like when a perfectly healthy young man falls to the ground on live TV. The Bible says, to “pray continually”. In fact, if you look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, it says:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I remember the first time I read that verse as a teenager. I thought, “How is that even possible? Don’t we have to do other things in our day than just sit and pray?” And, of course we do. Maybe if I was a monk or something, I could meditate and pray all day, but I have things I’m responsible for during the day. But it is possible to pray continually. It’s like an ongoing dialogue throughout the day. Little whispers to God as I get ready, deal with my kids, write, do laundry. Having prayer as a constant helps remind me I’m not alone, that God is very near, and he cares about what’s going on in my day. It also helps me be more patient, more loving, and more generous.
On the flip side, when I’ve not been in prayer, I feel cut off, lonely, and guilty. I don’t have hope because I feel so far away from God. I forget to attribute these feelings to what’s really going on (a lack of connection with God) and blame it on anything in my way. I blame my family, my circumstances, even on God himself. For lack of better words, I’m in a funk I don’t know how to get out of.
I’m writing this because so many people have prayed this week. Some aren’t as eloquent as Dan Orlovsky and some maybe prayed for the first time. The God of the universe is just a whisper away. That’s true in times of tragedy and in times of triumph. My prayer for you is that you keep that conversation going. If you’ve reintroduced yourself to God this week, (not that He needs an introduction) but, if you’ve spent time in prayer this week for the first time in a while, I hope you’ll keep talking to him.
This morning, I was driving. Instead of going around a country block, I decided to cut through the high school campus. I felt led to pray. I turned off the audiobook I had been playing and spent time praying for the students who will go back to school this week. I prayed for the teachers who I hope are ready to get back to the classroom. I prayed for the student leaders and the lessons that will be taught. Here’s the thing, if I hadn’t watched that clip of Mr. Orlovsky praying on TV this morning, I may not have noticed that urge to pray for the school. I would have gone on enjoying my book and God wouldn’t have had the opportunity to soften my heart toward the things that go on in the school.
As humans, we can get really distracted. In fact, distraction is one of the enemy’s best tools. We fill every silence with noise. But it’s in the stillness we can connect with God. And it’s in stillness we hear His voice.
It’s important to pray to God in moments like this when we’re out of answers and we need a miracle. But don’t limit God to only those times. Invite Him into your day to day. Recognize that He’s close and powerful. Pray continually. It will change everything.