“When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:24-25 (NIV)
God speaks to His children in as different ways as we are unique individuals. For me, I realize that God will say something to me before I need it. He knows my personality and knows I like to be prepared. While I don’t like to skip ahead and read the final chapter before reading the whole book, I am the type of person who likes to watch the nurse stick me with the needle so I can prepare for the prick.
I didn’t realize just how often God does that for me, out of love, and how much I appreciate it. As I began the fasting period this fall, I previously shared that I knew God was inviting me and I also knew I needed to be prepared because I sensed God was getting ready to do amazing things.
As He was still inviting me, I kept reading passages of Scripture about Paul and Silas praising God while in prison. I heard sermons about how the best way to enter into God’s presence is through worship and praise and I kept reading blogs about “praising God in the prison.”
When I accepted God’s invitation to fast, I felt as though I was being held captive in a prison. Every area of our lives was being affected negatively by various circumstances. There didn’t appear to be any relief in any area and it felt very prison like.
God reminded me ever so gently I had a choice: Was I going to praise Him while in the prison or was I going to complain or try and fight with my own strength?
I chose praise. I’m so glad God loved me enough to give me the tools I needed to fight the battle ahead of time and then remind me I had a choice when it started to get hard. Praising Him through the prison looked like singing worship songs, having praise music on in the background, thanking God continually for the blessings we have and reminding God that I trust Him and have faith that He is doing a good work even though I can’t see any movement during this period. Praising in the prison reminded me that God works all things out for His good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NIV).
While the “prison” isn’t completely over (we’re still dealing with some of the issues), it doesn’t feel as confining anymore. While I’m tired from fighting the battles and now physically sick as well, I’m happy and my faith has been renewed. It’s so true. When we fix our eyes on the Problem Solver and all He can do, the problems themselves shrink and our faith grows. Praising Him goes from an act of discipline to an act of worship. It changes from something I have to force myself to do to something I get to enjoy doing. I’m so glad God gave me the tools ahead of time to fight the enemy during this fasting period. Praising Him while in the prison is a great way to fight.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017