Acts 16:25-26 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison was shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
This is a great picture of what the power of praise does in our lives. Paul and Silas were in the middle of a ‘midnight’ season. They had been imprisoned for delivering a young girl of demonic oppression, whom had been used for commercial profit in the city of Philippi. As a result, Paul and Silas had been placed into shackles in the inner prison and left to rot BUT at midnight, what could have justly become a pity-party became a praise party.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
Anybody can praise when there is money in the bank, opportunities on the go and there’s nothing but daylight ahead but it’s another thing to praise God at ‘midnight’ when nothing is going your way. This is the situation Paul and Silas find themselves in and instead of complaining about their midnight season, they do directly the opposite and PRAISE God instead.
The word PRAISE means to give thanks. Praise is your confession and declaration of thanksgiving for who God is. Paul and Silas’ example teaches us powerful insights into the dynamic of praise in our lives:
Praise is always VERBAL – Praise is a confession, not just a thought. The bible doesn’t understand praise apart from opening your mouth and declaring the greatness of God. Our God is a speaking God. He said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ We have been made after the image of God and therefore, like God, have creative power in our words. When we declare the praises of God, we are affecting change in the atmosphere of our lives. Paul and Silas were praising God in such an overt way that the prisoners around them were listening to them. Paul and Silas didn’t care what anyone thought of them because they knew that the best thing to do in light of who God is and the circumstances they were facing, was to praise God anyhow. There is no power in our praise until we declare it out of our mouth. Praise isn’t a personality thing, it’s a bible thing. We don’t sing, clap, shout and lift our hands because of our personality but because it’s in the bible.
Praise is a CHOICE – It doesn’t have anything to do with your feelings. Midnight in the dungeon of a prison isn’t exactly conducive to feelings of peace and relaxation and yet Paul and Silas chose to assume the posture of praise. Psalm 34:1 says, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.’ Whatever circumstances you are facing, choose to bless the Lord and fill your mouth with continual praise. Your problems aren’t going to change by blaming God for them but your attitude will change towards them when you start praising God in the midst of them. God inhabits the praises of his people, not the problems of his people. God cares about the things you face but he is not essentially moved by them. He is moved by your faith because without faith, it’s impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. Praise is the birthing position for breakthrough in your circumstances. God draws near to praisers, not whingers. Choose to become better, not bitter by choosing PRAISE.
Praise will set you FREE – As Paul and Silas praised God, all of a sudden, the foundations of the prison was shaken by an earthquake and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. The power for freedom comes through praise. Bishop Jakes says of this passage, “The earthquake wasn’t God getting them out, it was God breaking into their praise. God had to get into where the praise was.” Praise gets your eyes off your midnight hour and onto the presence of God. Praise just doesn’t set you free, it has the corporate power to set others free as well. In your life and calling you will face challenges and issues that will feel limiting and burdensome but when you choose to verbalize your praise, you will experience freedom in your life and the lives of others.
Insight! (My close friend Ps Andrew Newbold has graciously contributed some key thoughts to this blog post)