It is summer vacation time. Many people go on vacation to the sea or the mountains. During vacation, people eat well, sleep well, and rest well. But have you ever felt tired after eating well and resting comfortably? No matter how well we eat and rest physically, our souls can feel tired. Why? It is because, as spiritual beings, people gain new strength by eating spiritual food, the Word of God, and enjoy true rest and peace when they personally meet God through prayer and praise. Man was created to worship God. So, when we worship and have intimate fellowship with God the Creator, we are supplied with joy, new strength, and energy from heaven and live a powerful life. Aren’t you tired of living a tiring life? Even today, God is looking for worshipers. Through meeting with the worshiper, God wants to bestow infinite grace and blessings, and God wants to fulfill His will through the worshiper.
First of all, I would like to introduce the amazing worshipers in today’s text of Acts.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas went to preach to the Philippi region, where they encountered a slave girl who had a spirit that gave her the ability to predict the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. However, when the slave girl shouted at Paul and said that he was the servant of God and was someone who showed the way to salvation. Paul became so troubled by her, and so Paul commanded the spirit to go out. Then the slavemaster who was making money from the evil spirit accused Paul of ruining his source of money. So Paul and Silas were severely beaten and then imprisoned. But in the middle of the night, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought all the prisoners had escaped, but Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”.The jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas, and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.” Paul preached the gospel to the jailer and all of his family, and they were baptized. In this way, the first church in Europe was established.
Dear beloved saints, isn’t the story from the book of Acts amazing? It’s like a scene from a movie.
While preaching the Gospel, he was beaten and imprisoned, but he did not resent the people, and instead Paul and Silas prayed and praised. We see amazing worshipers here. God has done wonderful things through his worshipers.
The Power of Prayer and Praise
What amazing thing happened in the middle of the night when Paul and Silas prayed and praised God with a loud voice?
Suddenly there was a great earthquake and the foundation was shaken. And the prison doors were all opened. And everyone’s ties are off.
How could this be possible? It is because God was with them. Why are prayers and praises powerful? Because it is an invitation to God. Praying and praising is the time to meet God and the time to enter God’s presence. “Holy are you, O Lord, in the praises of Israel” Psalm 22:3
When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from top to bottom. This means that through the death of Jesus, an amazing new way has been created to enter the Holy of Holies and meet God.
Relying on the blood of Jesus, it is truly an amazing privilege and blessing to come to God’s presence and meet God through prayer and praise.
Saints, are you using this amazing blessing of meeting God through prayer and praise?
Paul and Silas must have been in pain because they were beaten all over in the middle of the night, but they prayed and praised loudly.
What were they praying for? Perhaps, they prayed and praised something along the lines of this: “God, although we are suffering like this while preaching the gospel, I want the gospel to be preached and God’s will to be fulfilled through this situation.
Faithful and merciful Lord, let God alone be glorified, let these difficulties work together for your good.”
When these prayers and praises were over, surprisingly, the prison was filled with the presence of the Lord, and amazing things happened. Even the prison doors were opened, and the prisoners were freed from their chains. And the chief jailer, thinking that the prisoners had escaped, thought that he would take responsibility and end his life, so he tried to kill himself with a sword. But Paul says ‘We are all here’. In this surprising situation, the chief jailer said, ‘Teachers, what must I do to be saved?’ the warden asked. ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved’ Surprisingly, God opened the jailer’s heart. And Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the jailer and his family, they received Jesus, and were baptized. The chief jailer took them to his house and prepared food for them, and he and his family were very happy because they believed in God. What a surprise! Even when it was difficult to pray and praise, Paul and Silas praised and prayed to God, and God’s most pleasing work of salvation took place, and the first church in Europe was born.
We believe that when we pray, praise, and serve with love with a prayerful heart, even in difficult situations where it is difficult to pray, praise, and live a life of worship, God Himself will open the heart of the unbelieving spouse or friend. When you live as a worshiper and serve with love, I believe that the day will come when your unbelieving spouse or friend will confess to you, ‘How can I believe in Jesus?’
Then, like Paul and Silas, how can we live as worshipers that would please God?
How is it possible to pray and praise in the middle of the night in pain after being beaten from sharing the gospel? They did not silently pray and praise in their hearts. They prayed and sang loudly, loud enough for the prisoners to hear.
This is a very important question. Would you be able to pray and praise God out loud in a prison environment?
How could Paul and Silas be able to praise in a painful and dark prison? How can we live in the wilderness today, praying and singing hymns without ceasing?
To become the worshiper God is seeking is to:
First, make personal worship with God your most important priority. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Paul and Silas chose prayer and praise first in a painful environment. They could have slept and tried to recover during the night. But they chose to worship first. This is because they were worshipers of God. The third personal habit of successful people in the book called ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, which is a world-class best seller, is the ‘Put first things first’ habit. In other words, this is the habit of putting the most valuable things first. We know the most important commandments. It is to love God with all our heart, soul, and life, and to love your neighbor. Fellowshipping with God through the Word and prayer is a way to love the Lord. Give the first hour to the Lord. What do you think about when you get out of bed? Don’t think negative thoughts such as worry and anxiety, and give thanks to Jesus. Also, before watching the news, open the Bible, read the Word, meditate, and pray before starting your daily routine.
Second, set a “fixed time and place” for your encounter with God. The reason why Paul and Silas were able to pray and praise in a difficult situation was because prayer and praise were always part of their lives. Because they were habitual worshipers, they were able to pray and praise naturally even in the prison environment. In order to live as a worshiper, we absolutely need a private closet, a privately undisturbed prayer place, and a prayer time. David and the Israelites prayed three times a day, in the evening, morning and noon. In addition, the disciples of Jesus also prayed three times a day.
“In the morning, before it was still light, Jesus got up and went out to a lonely place and prayed there.” Mark 1:35 Jesus also used to pray early in the morning in a lonely place. If Jesus, the Son of God, also prayed, shouldn’t we, who are weak, pray even more? Beloved saints, I hope you will live as a person who always prays and worships regularly and habitually by setting a time and place.
How long should I pray? If possible, pray in a designated place for at least an hour every day. More important than prayer time, focus on a deep personal encounter with God. We must meet the Lord in prayer. And when I meet the Lord in prayer, the Word, and praise, the bonds will be released, the closed things will be opened, and my pride will be broken and the works of change will take place. Therefore, please do not approach prayer as a formal quiet time simply just to have a quiet time as its purpose, but focus on meeting the Lord personally in prayer and in the Word. In your meeting with the Lord, I hope that your fleshly tendencies will be broken and that you will experience freedom from the chains in your life.
Third, pray to be filled by the Holy Spirit and pray to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The reason Paul and Silas were able to pray and praise loudly in the middle of the night was because they were worshipers filled with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians is the epistle written at the time the Acts of the Apostles was written. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes:
Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Eph 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
Eph 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We can be sure that the apostle Paul himself was a man filled with the Holy Spirit as he wrote these words. As the words in this verse say, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, praise comes out of us automatically. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not be negative, not complain, and always be thankful.
Ephesians 5:18 is imperative. This verse is in the passive tense and is in the present progressive tense. We must give ourselves fully to God, and we must live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit continuously, moment by moment, not just a one time event.
A life filled with the Holy Spirit can be said to be the standard to live as a saved child of God. What is the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean being emotionally filled with joy. The filling of the Holy Spirit means a life in which the Holy Spirit completely governs and controls our entire personality of knowledge, emotion, and will. The filling of the Holy Spirit refers to the state of being completely personally dominated and controlled by the Word or the Holy Spirit.
The epistle written before the Acts of the Apostles was written is Galatians.
In Galatians, Paul confesses:
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Like the words of Paul’s epistles he wrote, he confessed and lived according to these words. This confession is the confession of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and those who live by faith.
A life filled with the Holy Spirit is a life in which complete salvation has been restored, and it is a wonderful and blessed life that a child of God can enjoy. It is not difficult to experience being filled with the Holy Spirit for a moment through a retreat or seminar. However, living a life filled with the Spirit all the time is never easy. It is a life possible when we pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit before we start our day and continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit by faith.
The most necessary thing to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit is faith. What confession do you need? In order for the Holy Spirit to rule in your life as king, you must surrender and lay down everything that you were the master of. Apostle Paul confesses, ‘I have been crucified’. The ‘I’ here refers to the fallen, sinful, self-centered self. When ‘I of the flesh’, who wants to sin, constantly proclaims that I have been crucified with Jesus on the cross, the Holy Spirit rules as king. At that time, the Holy Spirit will fill your heart with joy, peace, gentleness, and love of the Holy Spirit.
Dear saints, do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Please confess, pray for 30 minutes or 1 hour until you are filled with the Holy Spirit holding onto the verse of Galatians 2:20. Please pray until you are filled with the presence of the Lord, the bondage within you disappears, and you are filled with the joy of heaven.
Lastly, let’s look at the blessings and promises given to those who live as worshipers. This is the word the Lord gave to the thirsty woman, the Samaritan woman.
John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The water the world gives is like salt water, the more you drink it, the more thirsty you become. The water this world gives can never satisfy my soul. Today, the Lord promised to give us a spring of water that springs up so that we will never be thirsty and live forever. Do you live in true satisfaction, joy, and fullness with the spring water welling up from within, never thirsting forever? When and how can we drink the water Jesus gives? It is possible when we live as worshipers with prayer and the Word.
Let’s take a moment to watch a video of him giving praise. Please take a good look at the thirst and earnestness of the young people who praise.
What do you feel when you watch this praise? I feel the thirst and earnestness of these young people, their love for God and their passion. When I came to Russia 8 years ago, watching this hymn, I earnestly prayed, and I still pray, that the thirst for God and the spirit of worship of the young people who sing here would be poured out to the young Russians.
Let’s look at one more video for a moment.
What do you feel watching this video?
Although they have finished praising, they continue to feel that the praise and worship of the soul in the presence of God is not over. The praise is over, but I feel the passion and love to praise and worship continuing. Let’s long for the presence of God like that in us. Let us love and praise God with all our body, soul, and strength. At such a time, God will fill our souls with the spring water that springs from within in a world that is tiring, thirsty, and difficult like the wilderness. God bless the worshipers today.
God will give strength to the weary and strength to the powerless’.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I bless all of you in the name of the Lord that you will enjoy abundant blessings as the worshipers God is seeking for.