Garry spoke this morning from Acts 16:16-28, giving us an alternative perspective on prayer! Previously, he has been looking at Paul’s prayers in his letters, but here, we do not know what Paul and Silas prayed. They were in a difficult position at Philippi, as their deliverance of a fortune-telling woman led to their imprisonment, but instead of being overcome by this unjust suffering, they rejoiced and sang praises to God.
Our attitude to suffering (especially in the modern Western world) is to avoid it all costs (hence the arguments for assisted suicide), but suffering can be worked for our good. Jesus was ‘a man of suffering and familiar with pain’ (Is 53:3); he was blunt in telling His followers that ‘in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (Jn 16:33) Paul ultimately said we should ‘glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’ (Rom 5:3-4)
Suffering for the Lord’s sake is seen in the Bible as something worthwhile. Paul and Silas sang songs, giving glory to God. Their plans had been interrupted; their bodies had been beaten up, but rather than complaining and asking why, they were prepared to trust God with their situation and praise Him anyway. We can be the same: no matter what we are going through, even when we can’t see the end, we trust God who sees the end from the beginning and who is able to deliver us from all evil. It’s always time to praise and pray.