"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Acts 16:25.
These were "songs in the night" in truth! Their backs were smarting with the cruel stripes of the scourge. Their feet were fast in the stocks. They were in the inner prison at Philippi. But their hearts were kept in peace and rose in prayer to God. Did they pray to get out of the prison? Or was it their request that the light of God should enter the dark heart of the jailer? We know not. But we know that their supplications were mingled with songs of praise to God. They were confident in Him and assured that all would work for His glory.
The midnight prayers and praises told their tale. "The prisoners heard them." Instead of oaths and curses, the songs that rose that midnight in the darkness must have seemed remarkable. But not alone by the prisoners, the prayers and praises were heard by the Lord of heaven and of earth. The "man of Macedonia" had been seen, in vision, crying for help. As yet it had been "the women" gathered by the riverside who had received the Apostle's ministry. The jailer was held by his duties. If he could not go to the preacher, the preacher would come to him, and come by a pathway of pain and persecution and imprisonment. Paul and Silas realized but little, probably, what would come to pass as the result of their forced visit to the innermost dungeon, but their Lord and Master knew, and they were confident in Him. He knows the end from the beginning in all things. The "dragons, and all deeps" are called on to praise Him. In this case He intervened by an earthquake. The earthquake was followed by the heart quake, and by the conversion of the jailer, and the blessing of his household.
Let us have confidence in our God, and pray and sing praises in the darkness of the midnight hour of difficulty. In His own time He can bring us out of the prison gladdened in heart that we have had His support while there, and that the time of testing has proved a time of testimony for Himself, and of triumph over all the power of Satan. A human prison may be a divine palace.
"The Lord was with" Joseph in prison. He was with Paul in Rome. He was with John in Patmos. He was with Bunyan in Bedford. He makes "the wrath of man to praise Him."
"If our faith were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word,
And our lives would be all sunshine,
In the sweetness of the Lord."
First published as Songs for the Night Seasons by Inglis Fleming. New York: Loizeaux Bros., [n.d.].
Selections from Songs for the Night Seasons