“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’”
“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household’” (Acts 16:25-31).
Who was the real captive in this dramatic story in Acts 16? Certainly Paul and Silas, as well as several others, were sitting behind prison doors, their feet fastened in stocks. However, they were singing and worshipping the Lord at midnight. When a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, it was the jailer who became a captive of fear, ready to kill himself.
The Lord’s intervention through an earthquake certainly set free those who had physical chains like Paul and Silas. But it was the presentation of the Good News of Jesus that set the real captive free. A jailer who was ready to kill himself over his apparent failure to keep his captives, was himself set free as he encountered Christ though Paul and Silas.
This story, typically without the earthquake, has been re-enacted throughout history. Jesus sets men free. He said of Himself in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Free from sin and its eternal consequences, free from fear, and free from death itself. The Gospel is indeed “Good News” to those who are captive. The preaching of Christ is not of more rules and regulations, but freedom to all who desire to receive the gift of life in Christ Jesus.
Lord of Compassion, I thank You for setting me free from sin and death. I rejoice in this freedom! Help me to speak everywhere I go of Your love, grace, and power to set the captives free. I ask You to please bring Your saving grace into the lives of those around me who don’t know You. May the Good News that sets the captives free, flow from every Christian church around the world.
–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by Dave and Kim Butts. Click on the title for more information on this resource.
Praise God, the ultimate owner of all, who gives and takes away the privilege of managing those resources (Daniel 4). Thank God for specific resources he has put under your care. Confess any attempts to own (rather than manage) “your” money. Commit yourself to being a faithful steward who puts God’s kingdom and righteousness first (Mt. 6:33). Ask him to teach you the secret of being content in any and every situation (Phil. 4:12).
Pray that God will give you, your family, and your friends the daily provisions you need (Mt. 6:11). Ask also that you all will excel in the grace of giving (2 Cor. 8:7).
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend (Click on title for more information about this resource).