Praise Makes My Chains Fall Off!!
(Stripped and beaten severely…chained in stocks in prison)
“Around Midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and others prisoners were listening. Suddenly there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken on its foundation. All the doors immediately flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off.” “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 turns on the lights and asks, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:25-30
When I read this familiar story today something new came alive to me. I’ve heard it preached on a multitude of times, but I’ve never heard the message I got today. I’ve always known that they sang praises to God and God delivered them from prison. That alone is a great monumental act! I’m amazed that God responds like that to the cries of His children. Perhaps because I am going through an immense trial I see this through different eyes right now. Maybe I’ve just taken time to feel the love of God in all the details. I don’t really know. I can tell you this there was a couple acts of bondage broken before the doors of that prison ever swung open. In my experience I know those two men were bound in more ways than physical eyes can see and many others in the nearby vicinity were affected also.
So, how many bondages does praising God in this one story break? I’ve counted a few…maybe there’s even more. Here’s my little list:
1.) Emotional or Mental. This likely began during their prayer – as the verses say they were praying and singing hymns to God. I can tell you if I’d just come through the traumatic world stopping moments of an angry mob and being beaten bloody with wooden rods. I’m now sitting jail bruised and bloody. To pray and sing was no easy task and doing so delivered them emotionally and mentally from that trauma. If you’ve been through a physical incident like a beating, physical abuse, rape or sexual abuse you know it can take a lot of guts just to pray about what just happened. When you do all the armies of heaven spring to your aid and your deliverance.
2.)They had an immediate platform to preach! Way to break the bondage of Satan and take church to the incarcerated. They are a captive audience. It’s also amazing how when you are going through a hard thing that God elevates your platform. You will find yourself speaking to people that you never dreamed ever having access to. That is amazing. It would be difficult to be in prison. They didn’t know when they’d ever see the light of day again. When will they ever get out? How else would they ever have gotten to preach to the people in there? Imagine how we can apply this to our own lives. If my family didn’t need so much therapy currently, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to testify to all those therapists or to all the people in the waiting rooms. If my 3 year old hadn’t spent a week in the hospital with a ruptured appendix I’d not have had the audience of that hospital staff nor my little guy the other people whom we met there. What platform am I standing on I’d have had no access to any other way…Praise Him in the prison.
3.)Praising God broke the bonds of earth! God could not sit still when His hurting children were calling out to Him. If the earth is His footstool…God rose from His position and the earth quaked. The prison was shaken on its foundation! God was moved.
4.) The Doors flew open. No longer captive. Praise and prayer open their doors of captivity. What am I locked in by? What kind of trauma closed the door of my heart and locked me up? What have I been wishing for in my life? What doors do I need opened in my family, my career or whatever? What’s outside my door of praise…I can’t wait to find out!
5.)The chains fell off! Every prisoner unbound. Praise makes my chains fall off. I’m not restrained in any bondage any more. Worships is the greatest chain breaker known to man. If we could really get a glimpse of how heaven goes to work while we worship I truly believe we’d do a whole lot more of it. Worship brings God near…or brings us near to God. I’ve heard and seen it both ways. In settings especially of corporate worship together our hearts perhaps join together in rhythm that opens the floodgates of heaven.
6.) Praise stopped the suicide of the Jailer. When the freed inmates sitting around praying and praising God saw that he was going to use his own sword to kill himself Paul called out to him to say they are all present. Suicide stops in its tracks. Dear God this is close to my heart. I have family lost this way and some are still struggling with this. I praise you God while I stand here still in my own traumatic struggles. I praise you for life and life more abundant for every one of my family members. I cry life on their behalf! Praise God for life not suicide.
7.)Praise and prayer breaks the bondage of sin and death and gives salvation to the jailer and his entire household. Oh, yes that is the greatest triumph of prayer and praise. That souls should come to life eternal. Bondage broken forever!
There it is. My list of 7 items that I can count and give credit for one little hymn sing and prayer meeting. I kind of doubt that with their wounds bloody and their bodies freshly beaten that they were up dancing. They were’n’t likely having a robust praise fest in their distress. Can I suggest that God doesn’t require that of us. He just wants us to call on Him. For calling on Him to be our first instinct and most natural response to whatever we face. He hears and responds to the voices of His people and He is moved. He moves on behalf of our situations…breaking chains, opening doors, healing emotional distress, stopping suicide, giving salvation and inspiring preaching in the most uncommon of places. So excuse me while I go make dinner and have a little hymn sing and prayer meeting!! God knows I need more open doors…Heaven come down!
“Lord, listen to me and answer me. I am poor and helpless. Protect me because I worship you. My God save me, Your servant who trusts in You!”Psalm 86:1-2