In our passage today we reflect on the event that took place in Philippi where Paul and Silas were put in prison for freeing a young girl from demonic oppression. What resulted from their imprisonment was salvation and conversion of souls to the Christian faith. Today we will stick to the topic “the necessity for praying men”.
In 1 Timothy 2 Paul encourages a great multiplication of prayer; the expected results are a political atmosphere conducive to Christian discipleship and a demonstration of fruitful evangelism. In the second half of the chapter, Paul addresses first the men and then the women about issues specific to each gender. I am interested in the fact that Paul spoke specifically to the men about the matter of prayer. Generally speaking, in our churches today the ladies both outnumber and outshine the men in their fervency and frequency of intercession, but imagine if men began to seriously heed Paul's call.
I like how the two men (Paul and Silas) dealt with their darkest moment. When men rise up in prayer the very things that keep them from praying are also the very things that can only be dealt with through intercession. We can draw two lessons from this passage.
Lesson 1: When men put down their crowns and seek God, chains are broken and people are saved. In the first century a person could become a Roman citizen by either birth or buying the privilege. Paul was born in Tarsus within the Cilician province (Acts 22:3). Although a Jew, his birth in the city grants him citizenship. If he elevated his citizenship, he would not be jailed because Roman citizens had the right to have a legal trial where they could appear before a proper court to defend themselves. They even had the ability to request Caesar himself to hear their case. Among other rights, Roman citizens could not be tortured or whipped (scourged), nor could they receive the death penalty, unless they were guilty of treason. This is the right that was violated in the story that we read in Acts 16:25-34. Putting their crown down as citizens caused them severe punishment but what was worthy was what came out of that.
Lesson 2: Stars are clearly seen at the darkest hour. At midnight we are told that these men of God started praising the Lord as they prayed, we are told that the magistrates commanded that their clothes be torn off and they be beaten. We are also told that many stripes were laid on them and they were then thrown into prison. The jailer put them in stocks in the inner prison where deadly criminals were held. This is clearly their darkest hour, yet to them it was the hour of grace. To be honest at these conditions it's very hard to even think about praise. But what did they do?
They prayed and sang praises unto God at midnight. At the darkest hour prisoners were released. Men and women of God, do we see that our present frustrations and discouragements are intended to be the fuel for passionate intercession?