This week, we are taking a second look at what it means to be priests of prayer and praise to the world—a people who move into the public place, declaring and demonstrating the righteous and redemptive rule of King Jesus.
In Acts 16, we see the apostles Paul and Silas modeling missional ministry in the public place in a daring and dynamic fashion. Having received a call from the Lord to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel, they sail to Philippi, a major city in Macedonia, and immediately find a group of women praying at the riverside and join them. Paul preaches the gospel, and a woman named Lydia believes the gospel and is baptized along with her entire household who also believe.
After this, as they daily go to prayer, a demonized slave girl follows them proclaiming them to be men of God who carry the truth about salvation. Paul becomes agitated in the spirit, recognizing she has the right words but the wrong spirit, and casts the demon out of her. Though she is magnificently set free, Paul and Silas are accused falsely, beaten severely and thrown into prison on false charges. While in prison, they continue to pray and praise to the God of promise and power, using every opportunity to lift up the Lord and loose His life-giving power.
They continued to pray and praise to the God of promise and power in the face of persecution. Rather than grumble and complain about their unjust opposition and incarceration, they continued to pray and praise. They saw their confinement as being part of the cost of furthering the cause of Christ. They prayed for sustaining strength and dynamic deliverance. They sang songs of praise to the God who delivers His people and attends their way. Like them, we must focus with faith-filled devotion on the God who tells us that we have a word to declare and a work to do, and that He will enable us to declare and do by His promised power.
They continued to pray and praise to the God of promise and power in the hearing of the prisoners. This passage tells us that the prisoners heard their praying and praising. These men were in a physical prison, but more seriously, they were in a spiritual prison of sin’s penalty, power, guilt and shame. The prayer to and praise of God was exactly what they needed to hear. This was the very thing they needed to show them the way to true freedom. Every day, we are surrounded by prisoners of sin’s power. When they hear us offer up prayer and praise to God, they encounter the people of God and the God who loves people. As they respond, their “chains” will fall off, and their lives will be changed.
They continued to pray and praise to the God of promise and power for the saving of the people. In response to their prayer and praise, God responded with a literal violent shaking that loosed their bonds and set them free. The chains also fell off of the other prisoners, and the prison doors were opened. The keeper of the prison thought everyone had escaped and was about to kill himself. Paul intervened and assured him that all the prisoners were still there. This led to a conversation about salvation. The jailer and his entire household wound up receiving and believing the gospel and being marvelously delivered from sin’s penalty and power. The same is true for us: when we live every day for the saving of souls and the freeing of families, we will see salvation come to every home that will receive and believe the gospel.
Remember: When the people of God continue to pray and praise in the public place, regardless of opposition and resistance, the God of promise and power will show Himself faithful and strong on their behalf, bringing forth deliverance and salvation.