The Power of Prayer and Praise
Today’s reading from the Book of Acts offers a great illustration of the power of prayer and praise. Paul and Silas had been called to go to Philippi. There they encountered a demon possessed woman who told fortunes. When God delivered her through their ministry trouble ensued. The magistrates beat them, put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. Reading from Acts:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord[c] to him and to all who were in his house. (Acts 16:25-32)
Not only were Paul and Silas released from their chains but their jailer received salvation through faith in Jesus. By staying positive and putting their trust in God, they were able to accomplish what God had planned for them to do.
How would we have reacted in this situation? Reactions have consequences – good or bad. Would we follow the perscription of the Apostle Paul?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
This is how God desires for us to respond. It may be hard to do under difficult circumstances. But if we are praying without ceasing, if we are conscious of God’s presence with us, then we will be much better prepared for anything.
There is a payoff when we rejoice in God. Paul writes:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
We need to be connected to God. When we are connected to God, when we are part of God, we experience his peace. We place ourselves under his protection.
Paul tells us that the Lord is near and not far away. He is always there for us. Our strength is in our fellowship and unity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus makes this possible for us. He prayed to the Father for his disciples as well as those who would follow them:
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
We are not alone. All we need to do is to believe the prayer of Jesus. We need to seek him out under all circumstances. The psalmist tells us:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (Psalm 100:4)
The gateway to God is through our prayer and praise, believing that he will hear us and respond. Again the psalmist writes:
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy Name. (Psalm 97:12)
In believing and in seeking our quest will be fulfilled. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will revealed themselves to us.
Jesus concludes his high priestly prayer:
Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24-26)
Jesus wants us to be with him so that we may see him in all his glory. We have been talking about gateways. He is the final gateway to the glory of God. From the Book of Revelations we read:
“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:12-14)