Singing hymns—can you imagine it?
“What’s wrong with that?”
Nothing; but you must admit it was unusual to say the least.
“OK. Tell me what you are talking about.”
Paul and Silas, naturally. Who else do you know about who sang hymns at Midnight, with beaten, bloody backs, when in prison?
“No one on my street, certainly.”
And not on many other streets either. It was in Philippi, the first city in Europe to which they preached the Gospel. What a greeting my ancestors—Europeans—gave them!
But everything changed when God heard their prayers and freed them.
“A few more details, please, my European ancestors didn’t mention the event.”
Kinda’ flip in your answers today, aren’t you?
“I’ll flip a coin in order to give you an answer.”
Bad! That one wasn’t even near—why not cut it out and let me make my point?
“OK. OK. Go ahead.”
Well, you see there was a slave girl who had a demonic spirit. Her masters made good money, evidently, from what she’d predict when fortune telling. Then, Paul and Silas come along and cast the demon out and—whoosh!—their source of money dries up. They were angry, and dragged the preachers to the authorities, protesting that they were teaching an illicit religion. Of course, this was simply a cover up for the fact that they were about to lose their source of income, as Luke tells us in Acts 16:19. You can read the whole story, about the jailer’s conversion and baptism, later on in that very chapter.
“Remarkable account. No wonder the jailer came to Christ after hearing such things going on at midnight in his prison cell, and the miraculous act of God that freed them.”
Right. But surely, the testimony of the singing and praying had a tremendous effect—even apart from the miracle.
“’And so would ours,’ I suspect you are about to say, ‘were we ever in a predicament like theirs and did what they did.’”
Right! You and I probably won’t be, but—do we even hum a hymn when we’re in far lesser trouble? There was something about their faith that is lacking in many believers today. Whether or not we have the faith in God that they had probably would become evident only if and when it is put to trial under adverse circumstances.
“I think you’re right. But we could start by praying and singing when in lesser straits.”
Great! You hit the nail on the head!
“Better than flipping a coin?”
Now, let’s not start that sort of thing again!