About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison door were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.
Paul and Silas were accused of advocating customs that were unlawful for the Romans to practice. They were beaten and thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. The jailer put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and suddenly the prison doors flew open. When the jailer woke up, he saw that the doors were open and the chains were loosed. He assumed that the prisoners had escaped, but Paul and Silas remained in the prison. The trembling jailer came to them and asked how he could be saved. He knew that he stood in the presence of holy men.
Paul and Silas shared the message of Christ, and that night the jailer and his whole household accepted Christ!
There are several amazing things about this story recounted in Scripture. The Lord intervened to free Paul and Silas from the prison when they prayed and worshipped Him. The prison doors were opened and their chains loosed, but Paul and Silas remained there, knowing they had a mission to accomplish for God.
As believers, we know from Scripture that the Lord inhabits our praises. When we praise Him, He draws near and His Presence sets the captive free. Psalm 100 describes entering the courts of God through the doors of praise and thanksgiving: Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. (Psalm 100:1-4)
The author of Hebrews tells us to offer a sacrifice of praise to God through Jesus. Sometimes praising and worshipping God can be a sacrifice.
We may not feel like it because our lives have been shipwrecked, or we may not wish to sacrifice the time worshipping God. But the sacrifice of praise – the fruit of our lips – is precious to Him. (Hebrews 13:15)
Practice praising and thanking God daily. Even when you find yourself in the dark times of life, praise Him like Paul and Silas. Your praise will open the prison doors and set you free.
Heavenly Father, In my darkest hour I will praise You; in the places of freedom and in the places of captivity I will praise You. For You alone are worthy of praise and You alone set my soul free. In Jesus’ name, Amen