Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Praise Your Way to Victory

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose".  Acts 16: 25-26 (NIV)

Photo: Jan Alexander 
       In this passage, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison after they cast out a demon possessing a young slave girl.  The girl was empowered by that evil force to read fortunes and predict the future.  Using this skill, her owners became quite wealthy.  However, when the demon was cast out, the money stream dried up.  So her owners had Paul and Silas arrested. 

     Though Paul and Silas were unjustly thrown into prison, they did not mope around complaining.  They were not plotting how to get revenge on their oppressors, nor were they rehearsing the injustice over and over again.  They turned their focus to God and praised Him through the circumstance.  They praised God until He shook the very foundations of their physical bondage and set them free.

    Notice how everyone was affected by their prayers.   All of the doors in the prison was opened, not just Paul and Silas.  Even people who deserved to be in there were suddenly freed because of the prayers of these righteous men.  Well that does not seem fair you may ask, but remember how Pharaoh was blessed because of Joseph (Genesis 39:5).

     Getting back to the topic at hand, we see how we are to respond to challenging circumstances in our lives.  We may not be in prison physically but our bondage may be poverty, illness, depression, and so forth. Should we wallow in pity, rehearsing our struggles to God?  No we should not!   We are to maintain an attitude of praise and thanksgiving.  

    This is something I have to constantly tell myself to do because it is so easy to whine and complain.  However, God does not like that type of "prayer".  In His mercy, He may have answered such prayers when we were babes in Christ, but as we develop and mature our prayers should too.  Just as a baby may ask for things by pointing or saying "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and you may respond to that in the beginning, after a while you expect the baby to grow and ask correctly.  

   Thus, whining to God about how unfair things are and having an attitude of resentment only prolongs your bondage.   Praise and thank Him in the midst of adverse circumstances.  He is faithful to deliver you.  He will shake the very foundations of your captivity and set you free!

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