A few weeks ago, during our Sunday morning worship time, I was reminded of the story of Paul and Silas in the jail in Philippi. As I recalled the story, the Lord showed me how powerful worship truly is. Now, I know how powerful worship is. I have experienced many a breakthrough in my own life as I would begin to worship the Lord. I know the power that can be released when the body of Christ unites in worship. I have seen atmospheres shift, healings take place, and people set free as the body enters into a place of worship. On this day in particular, I feel like the Lord was showing me the value and power that my worship had, not just for me, but for the people around me. The Lord began to show me a few things I hadn't really noticed before.
Acts 16 recounts the story of Paul and Silas being imprisoned for casting a demon out of a girl who was making a lot of money for her masters. As a result, her masters had them beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer had them thrown into the inner chamber of the prison. That would be like getting placed in solitary confinement. Historians say that it was a place where those sentenced to death would be placed. It was probably the worst place to be. The conditions would have been horrible to say the least. It was in this place that Paul and Silas begin to worship, an earthquake shakes the prison, and all are set free.
"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." (Acts 16:25,26 NASB)
The first thing the Lord showed me was that breakthrough came at midnight. I looked up the word midnight in the Greek and it means, wait for it, the middle of the night. No surprise there. I also discovered that it can be translated as: the middle of a time of death, shame, darkness or weariness. I find it interesting that this is the place where Paul and Silas begin to have a worship service. I don't know about you, but when I find myself in a place like this, in the midnights of my life, I have a difficult time worshipping. However, Paul and Silas find this to be the perfect time to start to worship. They don't let their circumstance determine whether they will worship or not.
How many times do you not feel like worshipping? I've had many a conversation with individuals who simply say, "I just can't get into worship because I have too much going on in my life right now." I have heard others say things like, "I am just not feeling like worshipping. I don't want to be hypocritical in worship because I want to be transparent." I believe these are lies that the enemy has told us and many have bought into in order to keep us from seeing a breakthrough in the midnight of our lives. Paul and Silas didn't allow their circumstances to determine the level or timing of their worship. If you think worship is about you, then you've missed the point. Worship has little to do with you and everything to do with Him. We don't worship because we feel like it; we worship because He deserves it. Not because of our circumstances, but despite them.
The second thing the Lord showed me was the type of worship that they offered. The Scripture says that they were, "singing hymns to God". The word that is translated hymns actually means to sing the praises of. The people reading the scriptures at the time it was written would have also understood that it was a reference to the Great Halal, the high praises. They can be found in Psalms 113 - 118. When you read these Psalms, you find that the author is praising God for His mercy, kindness, deliverance, trustworthiness, righteousness, and power. The list of what the author is praising God for is long, too long to mention them all in this one blog. However, it is clear that the focus is on who God is. The word Halal means, "to be clear, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish.”
In the midnight of their lives, while in jail, having been beaten and chained up, Paul and Silas boast, rave, and celebrate God to the point of looking foolish. They realized that worship is not about them, their feelings or circumstances, but all about who God is. Sometimes, we need to just push past the excuses and the lies we have believed and be willing to rave and celebrate who God is.
Worship Like Someone Else's Freedom Depends On It
What I find most interesting in this story is as Paul and Silas worshipped, an earthquake came and the chains for everyone in the prison fell off. I had always understood that worship can be a time where you can experience a tremendous level of personal breakthrough. As I mentioned at the beginning, I personally have experienced this. But what I love the most is that Paul and Silas' worship not only brought freedom for themselves but for all who were in the jail.
I believe that not only does our worship bring us freedom and breakthrough, but it does the same for the people around us. In this scripture, we see that Paul and Silas were the ones offering up worship to God. It doesn't mention anyone else joining in. It was their worship that brought freedom to the people around them.
Do you ever wonder who may have been in jail with Paul and Silas? I know there were criminals, people who probably deserved the punishment that they received. There may have also been people being held for crimes that they did not commit, much like Paul and Silas. It didn't matter to the Lord, they all received the same breakthrough that Paul and Silas did. You may have family or friends who need freedom and breakthrough. Begin to worship for them. Maybe there is someone near you going through a personal midnight time and needs freedom. Begin to worship for them. You may not need freedom and breakthrough in your own life, but someone close to you does. Worship like someone else's freedom depends on it.
Your worship is powerful and important. Push past feelings and circumstances and offer up to God the highest of praises. Worship to see breakthrough in your life, the life of your family, friends, and church. Worship like someone else's freedom depends on it. I pray you receive a deeper revelation of the power you carry in worship.