“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Acts 16:25-26 ESV
This is one of the most encouraging passages of Scripture to me. When I first read it, I was amazed at what God had done. Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison after casting out a spirit of divination (fortune telling) from a young woman who followed them around for several days. The men who were making money off of her were very upset that their financial means had been taken away, so they took them before the magistrates and it was decided that they should be beaten and thrown into prison.
So, here we are. Paul and Silas are imprisoned. What do they do? They begin praying and singings hymns to God. When I first read this, I was astonished how men who had just been beaten and thrown into prison for doing no wrong could have this incredible resolve to worship God and communicate with Him through prayer in what would seem to be a very dark and desperate part of their lives. Then, I remembered reading earlier in the book of Acts about Peter and John and how they had been beaten for teaching in the name of Jesus yet went away rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.
When I first heard this passage preached upon, the preacher indicated that when things get bad, we need to begin to pray and “praise our way out” of the storm we’re in. While I see the significance of being a people who praise God, and while adversity and affliction can often rock our world, prayer and worship of God are not a knee jerk reaction to adversity and affliction. Prayer to and worship of God are a part of the very life of the believer. It’s what true believers do. Our lives should be one of praise to the Most High God. Some will teach that Paul and Silas began to pray because of the situation. But, I believe that Paul and Silas were just going about their lives—lives committed to bringing glory to God and the end result was that God was pleased to free them from prison. After all, He had much more work for them to do.
There’s more to this passage that I want to come back to, including the conclusion of this story that involves the jailer of this prison and how the Lord used this event to save him and his family. But, remember, we’ve been called to a life of prayer. We’ve been called to a life of worship. Let’s remember that as we go through our daily lives, whether the situation is up or down.