Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 12: Year 1
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them:” (Acts 16: 25).
Before I get to the holy habits of Paul and Silas and their systematic worship of prayer and song, let me remind us about the habits of David. He regularly killed those whom he felt wronged him. He had habits of “getting even.” I find this most ungodly. David killed, or had people killed who thought they were doing what he wanted them to do. I understand that it was a time of no communications technology and commander’s intent was not always known. Perhaps more effort could have been made to ensure his troops understood that he did not want everybody killed, but rather brought before him. Don’t get me wrong. I honor the contributions of David, especially the Psalms he wrote. But every biblical hero we have, had flaws, except our Lord Jesus.
Paul and Silas, while haven been bound and whipped with rods, they sang songs to God and they prayed when they could. I hope two things for myself. First, I hope I have the steadfast dedication to love, worship an honor God, even if only half as much as Paul and Silas did. Second, I really hope and pray that I am never tested like they were.
Saul (later Paul), with the direction of the Risen Lord, was transformed from one who, like David of old, was moved from supporting having people killed to one who desired all to have hope for eternal life. As Paul and Silas sang and prayed, the prisoners around them listened and witnessed their inner strength. Hope was spread throughout the dark and dirty chamber of confinement. The men were transformed so much so that when the earthquake occurred and everyone’s chains were unfastened, they didn’t flee, as I think I would be inclined to do. But no, they were drawn to the light that Paul and Silas were illuminating. The prisoners as well as the jailer realized and experienced a power greater than the limitations of human life with its mortal hurts and pains. The jailer himself went from wanting to kill himself to having his whole household baptized.
Witnessing the power of our Lord Jesus is transformative. David was a man of writing Psalms and harp playing. Paul too wrote letters, prayed and sang hymns, even as he had to remember Steven being stoned earlier when he assisted in such an act of sin; (Acts 8:1). David and Paul, like ourselves, can be transformed. We too can experience conversion. It seems that the prescription for such healing has something to do with praying and singing hymns. It may take us a while, but it works. And when we sing and pray, it not only changes us, it improves the lives of those around us.
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John