Praying… in prison…

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Acts 16:16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. …18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities…22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely…25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 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.

Lots of interesting elements to this passage, but the part that jumps out at me this morning is v.25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God”.

WHAT?!

I can think of several things I might be doing in such a situation. I’m pretty sure praying and singing hymns would not be among them. Just being honest here. And since Paul and Silas were real people, their conduct in prison wasn’t the norm. Apparently their fellow prisoners also thought this strange – strange enough to listen to what they were saying/singing. And so in an awful place like a city jail, God is present among them.

God does that, you know. God has a way of showing up in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances. My prayer today is for all those who suffer and struggle in many and various ways. Take heart. You are not alone.

Heavenly Father, when you announced to Mary (the mother of Jesus) that she would bear a son, you also said he would be called “Emmanuel” – which means “God with us”. Be with us today, O God, especially those of us struggling in difficult situations. Give us grace to seek you in prayer, and perhaps even song, when all we really want to do is give up. We ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

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