“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
Badly beaten and held secure in stocks in an inner prison cell, Paul and Silas greatly suffered for their faith in Jesus Christ. What was their response to such ill treatment by the Philippian government officials? Did they complain? Did they doubt God? Did they become angry at their suffering and circumstances?
Today’s text tells us that Paul and Silas, at around the midnight hour, were praying and singing hymns to God. What a wonderful testimony of their living faith in Christ. What a convicting testimony of a living faith in Christ that I do not often display when I encounter suffering circumstances. Especially, in light of the fact that my circumstances do not even remotely compare to the circumstances Paul and Silas encountered in Philippi.
Dr. R .C. Sproul writes, “With their bodies aching and their feet uncomfortably held in the stocks, Paul and Silas cannot sleep in their prison cell. But they neither surrender to despair nor lament their sufferings. Instead, they go to God with their petitions and praises, bolstering their faith by reminding themselves of their great and loving God.”
I often encourage people to do three things when encountering difficulties in life. First read God’s Word. Second, pray the Word which you have read. Third, sing the Word which you have read and prayed. Paul and Silas display two of the three spiritual disciplines, and the other prisoners were listening.
Pastor Warren Wiersbe writes, “Instead of complaining or calling on God to judge their enemies, the two men prayed and praised God. When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a sacred concert, but God gives “songs in the night” (Job 35:10; also see Ps. 42:8). Prayer and praise are powerful weapons (2 Chron. 20:1–22; Acts 4:23–37).”
“Any fool can sing in the day,” said Charles Haddon Spurgeon. “It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but the skillful singer is he who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by … Songs in the night come only from God; they are not in the power of men.”
Let each of us remember this lesson from a prison setting. No matter the circumstances, let us pray and sing to our Lord, who is sovereign over all our circumstances.
Soli deo Gloria!