When nine-year-old Willie was abducted from his front yard in 2014, he sang his favorite gospel song Every Praise over and over again. During the three-hour ordeal, Willie ignored the kidnapper’s repeated orders to keep silent as they drove around. Eventually, the kidnapper let Willie out of the car unharmed. Later, Willie described the encounter, saying that while he felt his fear give way to faith, the abductor seemed agitated by the song.
Willie’s response to his dire situation is reminiscent of the experience shared by Paul and Silas. After being flogged and thrown into jail, they reacted by “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 everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25–26).
Upon witnessing this awesome demonstration of power, the jailer believed in the God of Paul and Silas, and his entire household was baptized along with him (vv. 27–34). Through the avenue of praise, both physical and spiritual chains were broken that night.
We may not always experience a visibly dramatic rescue like Paul and Silas, or like Willie. But we know that God responds to the praises of His people! When He moves, chains fall apart.
What lessons do you learn from the prayer session held by Paul and Silas? How can you apply these principles to the difficult circumstances you experience?
Who was Paul? Paul, also known as Saul of Tarsus, was a zealous persecutor of the early church—until his dramatic conversion to Christ (Acts 7:58; 8:3; 9:1–19; Galatians 1:13–14). He describes himself as “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5). Paul’s birthplace was in Tarsus, a city which lay on a major trade route in the province of Cilicia in Asia Minor. He was a Jew but also a Roman citizen by birth, which meant Paul probably received a Greek education as a youth. He was also well educated in the Old Testament and the Law through his training under the great teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).