How do we experience joy in the times of our own suffering? Is it possible to be joyful in our pain? The Book of Philippians is known as one of the happiest books of the Bible and it is written from a prison. The Book of Acts also finds Paul and Silas in jail. In that prison, prayer and the power of praise brought about freedom from bonds! God inhabits the praise of His people! And prayer and praise can free you too!
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The Fortune Teller
In Philippi, Paul and Silas came across a young slave girl possessed with a fortune telling spirit. She made a LOT of money for her masters with these fortune telling abilities. She kept following Paul and Silas around calling them out basically, declaring in Acts 16:16:
“These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” NLT
It’s amazing that even the demons declare God’s power, isn’t it?
This went on for days until Paul apparently had enough and he commands the demon inside of her to come out, and the demon obeyed.
Her masters were outraged! Paul had cost them their lucrative living off this young girl and they dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace where it seems the whole town came out against them.
The officials had them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were not only beaten but Acts 16:23 says:
“They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison.” NLT
Severely beaten and thrown into prison. The crime? Apparently for teaching customs that were illegal for Romans at the time. At least that was the “accusation” against them.
Paul and Silas in Jail
A jailer was tasked with making sure these prisoners did not escape. The punishment for a Roman soldier who allowed a prisoner to escape was swift and severe.
The jailer puts Paul and Silas WAY back into the inner part of the dungeon and puts them into stocks.
Since the Roman officials were well aware these men were followers of Christ, the jailer was likely familiar with the empty tomb of Jesus and wasn’t taking any chances with these two followers of His.
Related – God Intended for Good – Shake it Off
God Inhabits the Praise of His People – Paul and Silas Prayed and Praised
Acts 16:25 tells us:
“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” NLT
Do you know that when you praise God in your worst circumstances, when you exercise faith in your “prison”, people are watching you? People notice when you have joy in your sorrow. They notice, like these prisoners in the jail with Paul and Silas, when you have faith in the fire! People see Jesus in you when your prison doesn’t dictate your praise!
Acts 16:26 goes on and says:
“Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!” NLT
Let’s not miss that word here.
When you give God your faith and your praises in your circumstances, He shows up! Not tomorrow, not next week. He shows up suddenly!
Now He could have just opened up the prison doors and broken the bonds and set the prisoners free, but this earthquake tells us that God wanted everyone to know He was at work. And He is at work in your prison too, suddenly!
And like the prison doors and the stocks weren’t opened until the earth quaked, you may not see the end result right away but He is sending an earthquake that will begin to break those bonds in your life!! He is at work even when we don’t see the end result yet!
God inhabits the praise of His people!
God Inhabits the Praise of His People
“The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” NLT
The jailer was ready to take his own life because he knew the punishment for allowing, not only Paul and Silas but the entire prison, to escape.
You see, when they praised God, He didn’t just save Paul and Silas. He set ALL the captives free (v.26).
Your praise in your prison can show God’s power and the love of Jesus to all those around you. You will bless many when they see your faith and the joy of the Lord.
Your praise in your prison can show God’s power and the love of Jesus to all those around you.
What Must I Do To Be Saved?
The jailer, when he saw that Paul and Silas and the others were still there, when he saw that even though the doors were open they didn’t leave him to suffer a certain execution, he wanted what they had.
He asked what he must do to be saved and He gave his life to Christ, him and his entire household!
Are we showing Jesus to those around us in our prisons or are we just complaining about our circumstances, going to friends for advice instead of praying and asking God for help? Are we whining instead of praising?
People are watching us and we may be the only Bible they ever read and the only Jesus they have ever seen.
Are we conducting ourselves in a way that makes other people ask what they must do to have the joy and the peace in the storm that we have?
God Inhabits the Praise of His People – So Praise and Let People See God at Work!
God inhabits the praise of His people and when people see your joy and see your praise it is contagious because God is in it!!
The power of praise and prayer can shake the foundation of your trials! It can open the prison door when the enemy has you cornered! It can break the stocks off your feet when you are so downtrodden you don’t know what step to take next.
The power of praise can shake the foundation of your trials! It can open the prison door when the enemy has you cornered! It can break the stocks off your feet when you are so downtrodden you don’t know what step to take next.
Paul and Silas prayed in their need. They praised in their prison. Both sang out in their stocks. They gave God the glory while the wounds on their back were still fresh and bloody! They knew well the power of praise!
We too can praise Him in our trials because we have faith that He will use it for our good and for His glory!
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Holy Bible: New Living Translation. 1994, 2004, 2007, 2013. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers
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