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25 But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. Acts 16: 25-26 AMPC
So many of us find ourselves in places in life that feel a little like prison. We feel restricted. Trapped. As though we can’t move about freely. Do as we please. We wonder when we’ll get out. When this will be over. Paul and Silas were stripped of their clothes and beaten brutally before they were thrown into prison. And it seems at times, that life delivers its own blows doesn’t it? Sometimes we feel stripped of our covering. Left bare and humiliated. We’ve lost loved one after loved one in a short time. Lost a job with a family to feed and no opportunities opening up. Rejected by someone we love dearly. So many things wound our hearts. Cause us despair. Leave us feeling beaten down and powerless. Shackled even.
This was the physical situation for Paul and Silas. They were mistreated and shackled. Imprisoned and unable to move. And in their darkest hour, at midnight, they decided to pray and praise God. They could have spent their time complaining. We would have understood. The other prisoners probably would have chimed in in agreement. But instead, they used their mouths to bring honor to God. To talk to Him. To lift up His name. You see, a crucial part of being in prison, is realizing that you have a captive audience – no pun intended. The Bible says the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas as they prayed and praised God. Whatever your prison is today, realize that there are others listening to your words. Others who are going through trials who need hope and encouragement. Yours may be the only light they see in their darkest hour. They need to see how a Christ follower endures their prison. How we who believe in Jesus, also have hope, no matter the circumstance.
As the other prisoners listened to Paul and Silas praising God, an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. The foundation of a building gives it structural integrity. It’s what keeps the whole thing standing for years to come. Paul and Silas’ praise shook the foundation of their prison. It didn’t just crack the walls in a few places. It shook the very thing that would keep their prison standing. That prison would never be able to hold Paul, Silas or their fellow captives again. As they praised God, glorifying Him. Acknowledging His power over all things. It removed the power of their prison to hold them any longer.
Not only was the prison shaken, but the doors were opened and their shackles were undone. All the prisoners were free to go. Nothing restrained or restricted them. Praising God, glorifying Him. Lifting Him up above all. Communing with your Father in prayer. That removes all limitations. The things you once thought had power over you, you realize, never did. You see, many times, our prisons are erected in our minds. We put limits on ourselves based on how we perceive our circumstances. The challenges we face cause us to limit our perception of what’s possible. But with God, ALL THINGS are possible. When we choose to run to God in praise and prayer in our darkest hour, that is when we see clearly. That whom the Son has set free, is free indeed! There is no shackle, no prison, no person, who can stop the plans God has for you. Praise and prayer help us to focus on the only One who is truly worthy of our attention. The only One who can rescue us. He’s done it time and time again. If only we would stop to see.
Today, no matter the challenges we face. Though our ‘prisons’ may vary in form. May we remember to run to the God who never changes. Who never fails. May we find the strength to open our mouths in prayer and praise to our awesome God. And find, that we have been free all along.
Love & Blessings,