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Chain Reaction

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 everyone’s chains came loose.  The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, h e drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself!  We are all here!”  The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”  Acts 16:25-31 (NIV)

So much is said here in this selection of Scripture.  Many dramatic descriptions are deployed such as, “At once all the prison doors flew open,” “everyone’s chains came loose,” and the powerful words of the jailer, “…what must I do to be saved?”  A lot is going on, but I want to direct your attention to verse 25.  It says that Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God – but check out the last eight words: “…and the other prisoners were listening to them.”

The word “listening” is the Greek very epakroaomai.  This verb is rarely used in the New Testament; it means ‘to listen intently’.  They hung on every word.

In their darkest hour, at midnight, in the deepest part of the dungeon, Paul and Silas decided to pray and praise God.  They could have spent their time complaining.  We would have understood.  The other prisoners probably would have chimed in in agreement.  But instead, they used their mouths to bring honour to God.  The accents of praise to God swept through the confines of the cell.  Not only did the other prisoners hear them but their prayers and praise infiltrated the throne room of God.  Then we read, “At once all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.”

From this very episode sprang the nucleus of the Philippian church.  Whatever your prison is today, realise that there are others listening to your words and response; others who are going through trials who need hope and encouragement. Regardless of your circumstances people are listening to you, and God is listening as well.  Let’s let our light shine in this world and let others see the true glory of God in our lives.  Someone once said:

As long as you pout and murmur about the darkness, about the mistreatment, about the injustice, midnight will dominate, but as you pray and praise then midnight will dissipate.