Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
One of the first things we question when adversity strikes is “Are we out of God’s will,” or “Have we missed God somehow because if we were in God’s will this wouldn’t have happened.” In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were directed by a vision from the Lord to go to a certain place to minister. They go and are in that place by the will of God and after a girl gets saved they cast the devil out of someone which causes them some problems. The people who were using the demonized person for personal gain got things stirred up and Paul and Silas end up in jail. Their feet are in stocks, they’ve been beaten with many stripes, and they were not in a good environment. They were in a sewer like dungeon after obeying the Lord. They didn’t go there on vacation, or because they even initiated something, no, they were there in obedience to God, in the will of God. The will of God is what He has determined and decreed should be.
From the natural you would have thought it was a complete failure. What may look like a failure in the natural can be a success in the spirit if we hold our enemy in the arena of faith and maintain the joy of faith. Right in the middle of that mess, they start praying, singing and praising God. Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy and at thy right hand are pleasures for ever more.” Paul and Silas continued to walk in the presence of the Lord maintaining the joy of their faith.
There’s different aspects of God’s presence the Bible speaks about that are important to understand to give a clear view of what happened with Paul and Silas:
- God’s omnipresence – He is everywhere present; we are always before Him Ps. 139:7-10; Ps. 46:1; Pr.15:3; Jer.23:24.
- God’s gathered presence – He’s among and near where two or more are gathered in His presence Matt.18:20.
- God’s manifest presence – That’s when He shows up Ex. 33:9-23; 33:5-7;2 Chron. 5:13-14; Is. 64:1-5; 1 Cor. 12: 7-11.
God’s omnipresence, His everywhere presence didn’t change their situation. Things don’t necessarily change just because God is omnipresent. Aside from the obvious manifestation described in the text in Acts 16:25, 26, Isaiah 64:1-5 makes it obvious that it was the manifest presence of the Lord and it was connected to their rejoicing praise and singing:
“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy PRESENCE, 2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy PRESENCE! 3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy PRESENCE. 4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.5 THOU MEETEST HIM THAT REJOICETH and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways….”
Paul and Silas began to pray, sing praise or rejoice in song before God and suddenly the place was shaken and everyone’s bands were loosed. The devil made a mistake when he put two together in that prison because that brought God near. But then suddenly God’s omnipresence became His manifest presence as they prayed, sang praises or rejoice in song. I don’t believe they were working some formula to apply in all circumstances. I believe that even though they were in adverse circumstances they were not going to let the adverse circumstances get into them.
Psalm 100 :1, 2 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the lord all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing.”