Let us start by reading the following Scripture:
Acts 16:22-26 (NIV):
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 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.
I have read this chapter I am not sure how many times, but it never struck me quite like it did a while ago (that’s what I love about Scripture – it truly is as Hebrews 4:12a says: “For the word of God is alive and active…”).
Do you see that Paul and Silas were in jail – in the inner jail and their feet were in stocks? I read the following article and thought to put part of it here for you to read:
“Roman imprisonment was preceded by being stripped naked and then flogged, a humiliating, painful, and bloody ordeal. The bleeding wounds went untreated; prisoners sat in painful leg or wrist chains. Mutilated, blood-stained clothing was not replaced, even in the cold of winter. Most cells were dark, especially the inner cells of a prison, like the one Paul and Silas inhabited in Philippi. Unbearable cold, lack of water, cramped quarters, and sickening stench from few toilets made sleeping difficult and waking hours miserable.”
Now look again at Acts 16:25: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. If ever there was a reason for not praying and singing hymns, I reckon it would have been then! However, it is not recorded that Paul and Silas were complaining, moaning, crying – nope, they were praying and singing.
Folks, often our circumstances seem to be overwhelming and difficult. Have you considered praying and singing to God?
I know when I look to God in times of difficulty, my standpoint changes, my thought patterns change and I have renewed vigour to face the day, week, month and year. I am sure that it would have been easy for Paul and Silas to complain, but they decided, in that moment, to pray and sing to God.
Gratitude does not just come when we receive a great gift, or things go well. Gratitude needs to become our attitude, regardless of our circumstance.
Easy? No! But as we start doing it by looking to the little things we have, we can start to practice this attitude of gratitude so that when the big, heavy circumstances come, we have already started practising an attitude of gratitude.
Paul and Silas were able to pray and sing songs to God because they had already built up an attitude of gratitude. That gratitude starts with what Jesus did for us on the cross, and everything changes when we grasp hold of that work on the cross.
Your attitude of gratitude starts coming more easily when you start with focusing on God our Father, talking to Him (prayer) and then giving Him all the praise. Verse 16:26b says: At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Folks, when we start practising an attitude of gratitude, circumstances change – the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
What are the prisons you find yourself in and what are the chains that are binding you fast? Start praying and singing, and I pray that just like Paul and Silas, your prison doors will open, and chains will come loose.
Practise, as often as possible, an attitude of gratitude.
Women of Reverence welcomes Nadine Judge as a guest blogger.
Lead Elder’s wife, Human Capital Specialist and Executive Facilitator
Nadine Judge is married to Francis Judge and together they lead Venture Church in Fairlands, Johannesburg. They have 3 children, 2 of whom are married and one who is currently in high school. Nadine and Francis also have one granddaughter who blesses them both abundantly.
Nadine is proficient in English and Afrikaans, and has experience operating in multi-cultural contexts. She has developed leaders in South Africa, Zambia, Lesotho, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Iceland. When she isn't inspiring leaders and assisting Francis in leading a church, Nadine is often found where coffee, books and internet converge.