Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 3, 2020

They’re Listening

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”   Acts 16:25


It’s easy to praise the Lord when things are going smoothly in life—when family, work, health, finances, etc., are all humming along. (Wait, is that even a thing?) And a hearty “hallelujah!” rolls right off the lips when we see God do a miracle in an impossible situation. Or, when we’ve joined others in praying for a stormy situation to be calmed, a prodigal to return, or wisdom to be found, and He shows His amazing power and grace, an outpouring of praise and thanks comes naturally. (In fact, even unbelievers will provide a “Thank God” when circumstances go their way.)


Oh, but what about those dark nights when the pain of life is palpable despite our cries to our Heavenly Father? When, even with an army of prayer warriors on our side, our expressed will is not aligned with God’s, so the resulting outcome is harder to humanly bear than the challenge itself—what happens to our prayers then? Or if the Lord, for His timing and eternal reasons, allows us to endure a season of being beaten and bruised even though we’re walking closely with Him…how can we possibly raise a “hallelujah” then?


Sisters, we can—we must—continue in faithful praying, praising, and singing even in the darkness. This is when unbelievers around us are watching us most closely to witness what’s going to happen to our “praise God” proclamations. Like Satan (or even Job’s own wife!) observing Job, those around us are just waiting for us to curse God in our suffering and turn away…Will we take back our surrendered life, relying on our own wisdom and wits to get us through? Will we completely abandon Him, with a God’s-not-big-enough conclusion?


Like Paul and Silas imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40), we have an amazing opportunity to stand firm and demonstrate our faith to unbelievers in dark, difficult times. See, without good cause, these guys were stripped, beaten with rods, and shackled in prison. Then, in the middle of the night (probably not sleeping because of the intense pain), they began praying and singing aloud to God, “and the other prisoners were listening to them” (vs. 25). And when all the doors were miraculously opened, and everyone’s chains unfastened—not just Paul’s and Silas’—something incredible happened. Because of the demonstrated faith of these men, the jailer, and ultimately his whole household, believed in the Lord Jesus and were saved. He even fed Paul and Silas and tended to their wounds.


Luke tells us in this chapter that none of the other prisoners escaped, but he doesn’t say why. In my sanctified imagination, though, I think the actions of Paul and Silas made a huge impact on them before the doors blew open—they were listening, after all. They didn’t know a miracle was about to happen. They just saw and heard these two Christians responding to their dire circumstances with prayer and song. So, I like to believe they accepted Jesus as Lord earlier that night. And, in my mind’s eye, I can see them singing harmony with Paul and Silas as their own chains fell off.


“Lord, let me use the dark circumstances of my life to shine Your light brighter, demonstrating faithfulness and trust to a doubting world.”


For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Ministry


  1. Thank you, Julianne! Loved this. Such a great reminder!

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