“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 everyone’s chains came loose.” Acts 16:25-26
How much of our prayer is based on us? Is it based on what we want to receive from God, what we are going through, what our situation looks like, how we are feeling, how we are doing, how we are treated?
Prayer is a thing of the heart and the greatest prayer is meditation. By prayer we take hold of God’s promises by faith. All real meditation and worship will bring a response to God because to pray is to bring ourselves to God’s mind, not to drag Him to ours. The engagement of our heart toward God, yielding our faculties to Him, triggers a response and that response could be thanksgiving, praise, confession; and God’s response will be timely and reliable; He will work through you and in you for a greater answer to your prayers.
To meditate is to focus only on God. By focusing on God, faith comes spontaneously. Focusing on God puts everything in its proper perspective. If the focus of Paul and Silas had been on their unjust imprisonment, when the earthquake shook the prison and loosed their chains, they would have instantly escaped. But instead, their praise directed their focus on God and they became a channel of blessing, prophecy and salvation to the prisoners and the jailer and his entire family. Mediation changes our focus and faith causes things to happen. Meditation shifts our focus from the natural into God’s presence. When your heart gets into God’s presence, your thoughts turn to reality. To know God’s presence is to know His power.
From inside the prison cell, God revealed to Paul the jailer’s intention to kill himself and he cried out, “Don’t harm yourself, we are all here!” (Acts 16:28) They did not interpret the outward signs to favour them but rather submitted to God’s leading in every step. After the jailer and his household had received salvation, they left the prison not as runaways but they were escorted to freedom in honour and dignity as Roman citizens who had been mistreated.
Whatever situation you are in, it is too early to complain, too early to jubilate before finding out what God says about it. Take this lesson from Paul and Silas: You can pray amiss, but you can never ever praise amiss. When you praise, you take the focus off yourself and it is only then that you can become a channel of God.