Psalm 47 is part of my daily Bible reading today, part of the plan for reading through the Bible in a year. As I read, “Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises” (v.6), it reminded me of learning this verse one summer with a 6th grade Sunday school class that I taught. It was easy to learn and stuck with me.
Singing praises reminded me of the story in Acts 16 where Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned, their feet fastened in the stocks (v. 22-24). In the midst of these circumstances, they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God (v. 25)! The prisoners were listening to them (v. 25). (Who is it that hears our praise? Might others also be impacted?)
Suddenly there was an earthquake and the prison was shaken, all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened (v. 26). The jailer, roused from sleep, seeing the open doors, was preparing to kill himself thinking the prisoners had escaped (v. 27). But Paul cried out to let him know they were all there (v. 28). Trembling with fear, the jailer fell down before Paul and Silas, brought them out, and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 29-30).
Acts 16:31, Paul tells the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” Paul and Silas then spoke the word of the Lord to him and all who were in his house (v. 32). The jailer washed their wounds, and he and his household were immediately baptized, having believed in God (v. 33-34).
I love this story, partly because it began with prayers and singing praise to God in a prison cell. Where do we find ourselves? In our situation, can we sing praise to God? As they prayed and sang hymns to God, “suddenly” the earthquake came and opened the doors and broke their chains, setting them free physically. And ultimately, the dramatic event was used by God to set the jailer and his household free spiritually as they believed in God. And I wonder, what might prayer and praise set me free of?
It’s not that it will automatically change my circumstances, but it might just change my heart in the midst of the circumstances as I focus my eyes on God and pray and praise Him. Do I ever really consistently do this to see what might happen? And not just to receive something, but first and primarily to give honor and glory to God, my King and Savior, the One whom I can trust no matter where I find myself.
I’m dropping in some songs below, ones that God has used to speak to me over the last couple of weeks, songs of encouragement and hope during my current season. They remind me that my present circumstances come from a loving God whom I can praise, even during difficult days, for He is worthy and has good plans for my life.