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Singing in the Cell

Acts 16:25 (ESV) — About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them


Have you ever found yourself not in the mood to sing? Perhaps you get in the car and start it to find the radio blasting. You turn it off and prefer the silence. Or maybe you are at a church gathering or some venue where people are singing and you are just too exhausted, stressed, or sorrowful to sing. Singing is definitely something connected to our mood.


But our passage today is an insightful look at how we should understand singing as directed to God in praise. Praise to God should not simply be a condition of our mood or circumstances, but an overflow of our gratitude of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Paul and Silas find themselves in a prison cell. And the text tells us, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” It is late in the night and these men are praying and singing hymns to God. 

They are engaging in personal worship in the prison cell. Their singing is not because their circumstances are pleasant. Being in an ancient prison cell wasn’t a comfortable situation. They were likely hot or cold depending on the temperature outside. There were no comfy pillows to lay their heads on or televisions and radios to entertain them. Yet in the middle of the night, they are offering up praises to God. 


Why is this? They were not doing this to impress the other prisoners, even though those prisoners were absolutely listening. No, their aim was to express their love to God. They recognized His sovereignty over their circumstances. They knew their sins had been forgiven through Jesus’ finished work on the cross and resurrection. Grace and mercy had come to them. The prison cell wasn’t a cause to lose sight of God’s goodness to them, but an opportunity to proclaim it. Friends, the same is true for us. We can, and should, praise God despite our circumstances. Our worship is not dependent on our comforts, but on His character.

Reflection & Journal:

- What does Paul and Silas’ worship in the prison cell demonstrate about their view of God?

- Why is it important for us to recognize their actions in the midst of their discomfort?

- How can we reflect this in our lives?  

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