Praise from the Prison

3 lessons on praise to help you fix your eyes on Jesus

This spring, I spent time with several of our American Bible Society ministry partners in the Middle East. I had the immense honor of worshiping in a small underground church with a handful of Christians.

When I was asked to share from God’s Word, the Holy Spirit compelled me to turn to Acts 16:25–28. It’s a short passage, but it’s packed with power!

We read that Paul and Silas followed God’s call to preach the gospel in Macedonia. In the city of Philippi, their journey seems to hit a wall when the two men are thrown into prison. But instead of falling into despair or lashing out at God in anger, Paul and Silas do something unthinkable. They praise God from the prison!

As I read this passage, I realized that I had modern-day examples of Paul and Silas kneeling beside me on the tile floor. Our fellow believers in closed countries often live under the daily threat of persecution and prison. But they still gather to pray, worship, and read God’s Word—choosing to lead lives of praise despite their difficult circumstances. You and I may never understand what it’s like to face prison for Christ. But we all know what it feels like to be trapped by sorrow, sickness, fear, or unforgiveness.

Here are three lessons we can learn from Paul, Silas, and our modern brothers and sisters about praising God from the prison and rejoicing in him always! (Philippians 4:4)

Praise changes us.

Paul and Silas didn’t have Scripture in their hands. They had it buried deep in their hearts, like precious treasure. When our hearts overflow with God’s Word, we are equipped to praise God from any prison we face. God uses our heart posture of praise to do something extraordinary! The more we meditate on God’s Word, recite his promises, and praise him for his goodness, the more comfort, grace, and hope we receive. And instead of prison bars, we see Jesus!

Praise changes others.

Many times, our response to difficult circumstances can be our greatest witness. Even in places where the Bible is banned, God uses lives of praise to draw people to Christ. I heard many testimonies of this during my time in the Middle East, where Christians are seeing firsthand how living in the light and love of Jesus makes people around them take notice. Think about the people in your own life: children, grandchildren, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and even strangers. How could your posture of praise—especially during challenging times—be a witness to them?

Praise strengthens the church.

True praise isn’t restricted to a church building, and it doesn’t end after Sunday morning. When our hearts are dedicated to praising God at all times, the impact and witness of our churches multiply. We can better focus on Jesus’s call to love God and our neighbors (Mark 12:30–31). We can center our worship, ministry, and outreach on praising God. And—by his grace—we can create a chorus of praise to God that echoes through generations! So, “Let us praise his name together!” (Psalm 34:3b)

3 Ways to Respond

  • READ: Meditate on Psalm 34.
  • PRAY: Ask God for a heart posture of praise.
  • ACT: Think of three people you can encourage with Psalm 34 today!

Read more stories of lives changed by God’s Word in Record magazine!

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