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 99.1

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8 Comments

  1. ScottyV on January 19, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    What an interesting view on prayer It is not about the answer, but that we have the opportunity, the audience with God, to ask. I cannot agree or disagree, I’ll have to pray on it. I do think it is an inspired thought.

    • Barbara Stewart on January 20, 2023 at 11:40 am

      You could not have said it better. I was severely with cough for 17 days in December, not being able to talk. I said Lord your will be done not my will to be healed. I kept focus on Job. I asked for healing yes, but I praised Abba Father anyway. We are too bombarded with making God our Jeanie. God is too Sovereign to tell him what to do, I just ask for life to serve Him more..Excellent article. Prayer or praying is beyond our comprehension. God gave me life and my responsibility is to give back…Peace and Blessings
      “What if Hamlin wasn’t healed”? God is still the true and living God and still loves❤.

      • Devin Almonte on January 20, 2023 at 12:20 pm

        Sorry to hear you were so sick, but I love your comment and how we praise regardless if He answers the way we hoped. Your words are an encouragement to me! God Bless! – Devin

    • Devin Almonte on January 20, 2023 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks for sharing ScottyV! I prayed before I wrote this, as that is exactly what I hoped it would do….to get us thinking more deeply: What is prayer? What is it for me in my relationship with God? How do I view it? Do I see it in a totally different way? How does the Bible call us to pray? I posted about this in my FB group for Encouraging Star Stories today because I would love to hear about what prayer means to all of us. And those answers will vary greatly. And I consider that a HUGE blessing because it will only further enrich us and our prayer life. God Bless! – Devin

  2. Marilyn on January 19, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    “There are only three answers to a prayer;
    Yes,
    Not yet, and
    I have something else in mind for you”

    I love this quote from the series 1923
    Our prayers are always answered even if we can’t always see it at the time.

    • Devin Almonte on January 20, 2023 at 12:14 pm

      Love that….yes, not yet, and something else in mind. Such a beautiful way to understand prayer. God never ignores us. But sometimes we don’t always like the answer He gives; though His answers are always for our good. Thanks for your comments! – God Bless! – Devin

  3. judy mondrone on January 21, 2023 at 6:23 am

    Wow you got me there!! My father, my earthly father is not doing well and having extreme trouble walking and I been asking for prayer and most importantly I have a one on one with God about my father’s health every day. So, reading this at first, I was going to fly on social media and run on to my church’s web site and start immediately asking for prayer and then I read on…. You are so so right about this and yup if he didn’t get saved you better believe people would be singing a different song. I believe god saved him for gods own will and time will tell. No suffering goes Unwasted!! Amen loved this story. Thank you. By the Grace of God, I just celebrated 4 yrs. sober!! Oh, Oh I said that’s right I didn’t have anyone (that I knew of) praying for me to stop drinking and become sober after 42 yrs. of drinking and look what god did for me. Amen Love Judy

    • Devin Almonte on January 23, 2023 at 9:25 am

      Amen Judy!!! I have been praying for your father and I know that is so hard to watch him struggle so. And yes, I love your comments! Because as much as God calls us to prayer and loves our prayers…He is always the one doing the saving. And congrats on 4 years…HUGE!!!!! God Bless! – Devin

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