Set Free Through Praise
Pastor Dawn Jackson
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 16:24,25 NIV
I grew up in a very musical family. My father is a fantastic musician, having taught himself to play all types of musical instruments. My mother had a beautiful, strong alto voice—she sounded like Karen Carpenter (“We have only just begun…”). My grandpa played the drums and my grandma sang soprano in the church choir. Our home was constantly filled with music! As for me, I did not have the interest, talent or patience for any of it. In fact, I remember being very frustrated with my parents when I was five years old because they chose to rehearse their music during my favorite television show, Flipper, and I could not hear a thing!
While music is not my calling, when I was young I discovered the power of praise and it changed my life. Just prior to my twelfth birthday my grandma, who was like a second mom to me, died. A month later my parents divorced. My world was flipped upside down. During that season I spent a lot of time with my grandpa. He had a 1972 Ford pick-up truck with a small camper shell. When we would go places I would often choose to ride alone in the back of the truck. As we drove along worship songs I had learned at church would come to mind and I would begin to sing. I knew the camper shell was sound proof so soon I was singing at the top of my lungs. While no one else could hear me, God heard me and I experienced as a twelve year old what I have come to articulate as a principle—praise invites God’s presence to invade our circumstances.
The scripture at the top of this post refers to Paul and Silas who, after being brutally beaten and locked in prison, chose to pray and praise God despite their pain. The power of God showed up in their situation and set them free. My choice to praise God in the midst of my pain brought the presence of God into the back of that truck. While my particular circumstances did not change—my grandma was gone and my parents still divorced—God’s presence invaded the chaos, healing my pain and brokenness and setting me free from the bondage of bitterness. Those individual worship sessions in the back of that pick-up truck were like a healing balm for my heart. There is nothing like the presence of God!
My prayer for all of us as we come to the end of 21 Days is that we would make 2016 a year of pursuing God’s presence at an entirely new level. Let’s make praise part of our daily dialogue and allow God to invade every aspect of our daily lives. God is good and his presence changes everything!