Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 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! Acts 16:25-26 NLT
What a mind-blowing picture of spiritual battle. Paul was provoked day after day by a girl who was annoying them (following them around and shouting that they were awesome). The girl who was a fortune-teller was under the influence of some evil power. Finally, Paul had enough and commanded the evil spirit to STOP, and the girl was set free.
Interestingly the girl was able to bring in lots of money through her fortune-telling and this stopped when she was set free. The guy who benefited most was furious that his source of income was cut off. He rallied a mob who almost killed Paul and Silas, eventually throwing them in prison.
So here they are on a “mission from God” with supernatural power bringing freedom to people. Sounds exciting. Then the counterattack. The devil is never happy when people get set free. And people aren’t usually happy when their source of income dries up.
So what did Paul and Silas do? They prayed and worshipped.
They weren’t praying the people who hurt them would be struck down by God. They weren’t praying anything manipulative — “God put all these people in prison so they can feel what we’re feeling.”
I think they were praying something more like Acts 4:29-30
“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Have you experienced backlash when following Jesus? Are you in some sort of spiritual or emotional prison, locked up, hindered, afraid? Have you been unjustly treated, even when your actions have been noble?
Take up your greatest weapons — prayer and worship! Turn your focus to Jesus. Begin to pray for His kingdom to come. Pray Acts 4:29-30.
Pray “Lord take this situation in my life and be glorified. Come and have Your way. Break through so Your name is lifted up. Set even more people free from the power of evil. Forgive those who have attacked me.”
Can you imagine Paul and Silas praying for their friends, at midnight in jail, crying out for God’s blessing on each of them by name.? Think of being in the cell next to them, “What’s up with these crazy guys? I’m trying to get some sleep. Why aren’t they angry? What are they doing praying for all these different people, sounds like they’re going to pray all night…”
And whenever we add worship to our prayer, watch out! Your perspective is changed to thankfulness. You can’t really worship AND pray without being changed. You’ll be filled with faith that God is good and He is in control.
And who knows but God will bring an earthquake and the prison doors will fly open.
And even if they don’t, the ones worshipping and praying are already free…