“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
As simple as a song? Paul and Silas were beaten, bruised, damaged. They sat shackled and humiliated in the darkest place, and they worshiped.
They’d been faithful to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit; they’d left their homes to preach the good news, they prayed for the sick and demonized, and given gifts to the poor. It’s recorded at the beginning of chapter 16 that they even refrained from preaching in one location because the Holy Spirit restrained them. They obeyed. They were faithful, and now they were in prison!
I have sat there. I told myself that depression is understandable; things have gone horribly wrong!
I’ve been faithful. I have obeyed, but look at me now!
I scoped out the situation, and I didn’t see any hope.
I was hurt.
I prayed, but it seemed like I was just repeating my complaints - over and over again.
I thought it was all over… I knew everything of value could be gone: my life, my marriage, my family, my home, my peace, my reputation – everything!
In the darkness I heard a prompting to sing a song. What? Worship here? Now?
I didn’t have any strength to think much about it, so I started to hum. Then I sang an old worship song in a weak, beaten voice. It didn’t take long, and I was declaring my hope to all the forces around me. I sang, and meant every word. I was desperate.
Then the walls shook.
My chains came loose. I shook them off!
Now, who’s in that prison with me? Who has heard me pray, and sing? Who felt everything shake, and then saw their own chains loosen? The scripture quoted above says that everyone’s chains came loose! Talk about God opening a door!
Let me take a little diversion here and point out something missing in this scripture. Notice that it doesn’t say that they prayed from page #48 in the prayer book, or that they sang a particular style of song. It doesn’t say that they’d practiced two-part harmonies, or even had a pleasing sound! They might have been a couple of ____singers! (fill in the blank with your least favorite, like “country”, or “non-“, or “hymn”, or whatever).
The scripture simply says they prayed. They sang. The walls shook. Everyone’s chains came loose.
“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”
-Psalm 89:1 NIV