We worship the Lord because He is worthy of all praise! But there is a benefit for us also. Praise unleashes supernatural power. Too many Christians are living defeated lives because they’ve never learned to tap into the power of praise and worship. They are missing out on what God desires for them because they are not stepping out in praise. When we do, however, a miracle can happen!
A powerful example of this is Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi in Acts 16. In verse 9, Paul had a vision of a man begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." He and his team immediately left and eventually wound up in the Roman city of Philippi. This is significant in that Christianity is now heading west. They meet some women by the river and one, a rich merchant named Lydia, is converted and her entire household is baptized. It is the start of the first Christian church in Europe.
Sounds like a great beginning, doesn't it? But not what happens next! A slave girl begins to follow Paul and his team shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." Sounds like free advertising, but it is more sinister than that! She is demon-possessed and Paul becomes so bothered by her talk that he casts the demon out of her! She is delivered and set free, no longer bound by the demon.
You would think everyone would be happy by this outcome. Not so! The girl's demon gave her the ability to predict the future and her owners, for she was a trafficked slave, earned a great deal of money by this. They were so upset they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities and accused them of promoting unlawful customs. The townspeople formed a mob and joined in the attack against them, and the authorities ordered Paul and Silas to be stripped and beaten with rods. After being flogged, they were thrown in prison, placed in the inner cell and secured with chains and stocks.
Winding up in jail today is never a good thing, but being thrown in a Roman prison was much worse. The jailers had no regard for human rights or prisoner's welfare. Once in prison, you might never come out alive. When Paul and Silas were put in the inner cell, it was like they were being told, "You are here, and you are staying here. No one is going to help you. No one is going to rescue you. Everyone has forgotten you." It seemed an impossible situation!
That is why verse 25 seems so improbable and amazing! At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening to them. Such strange sounds! Prisoners were used to the sounds of suffering. They were used to the sounds of the clanking of chains, the cries of the injured, the last gasping breaths of the dying. They were used to hearing curses hurled at the jailers. But they were not used to hearing the sound of Joy! They were not used to hearing the sound of praise and worship. But that is what Paul and Silas did.
What happened next? Verse 26 tells us, "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." Imagine God in heaven as He hears their sacrifice of praise. He says, "I enjoy that. It blesses Me!" And then He starts tapping His feet in time with the rhythm of their praise. In Acts 7:49 God tells us that heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool. When He started tapping His feet, the earth started shaking and the cell doors flew wide open!
What can we learn from Paul and Silas and their midnight sacrifice of praise?
1. Give God All the praise, no matter how you Feel
Do you think Paul and Silas felt like praising the Lord? They were obedient to what they thought was the call of God and wound up brutally tortured and thrown in prison. I'm sure they could have felt very sorry for themselves. They could have gotten upset with God for not protecting them, for abandoning them. Instead, they chose to give the Lord the praise He deserves. When things in your life are going great, praise the Lord! When things feel like they are falling apart, praise the Lord! He is worthy of all the praise, no matter how good or bad you feel.
2. Praise sets a Miracle in motion
How does it happen? I don't know. But I do know that praise starts a chain reaction that brings deliverance to the captive. Victory is first accomplished in the Spiritual, then we can see it come to pass in the Natural.
3. Praise breaks open the Doors of your prison
What is your prison? Fear, insecurity, pride, doubt, discouragement, unforgiveness, lack of finances, or something else. Your midnight praises will bust open your prison doors. Midnight praises are not just about giving God praise at 12 midnight or 2am or 4am but when everything seems dark! It is when you feel all alone, even abandoned by God. But He is with you. Let your shout of praise tear down your prison walls and throw open your cell doors!
#4 in the series, "Extravagant Worship."