Not all great prayer meetings are promoted and
scheduled. Incidents in daily living for Christ are often the cause
of necessary gatherings of prayer.
THE RESULTS OF MIDNIGHT PRAYING
There are several interesting leadings of the Holy Spirit in the
life of Paul that eventually led to a glorious midnight prayer
meeting that took place in a jailhouse at Philippi.
From the very beginning when the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me
Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them" ,
Satan began an all out battle against those who were separated from
the "Antioch five". The speaking of the Holy Spirit to the group of
five at Antioch, as they gave themselves to fasting and praying,
launched the first of Paul's missionary journeys; therefore it is no
wonder that Satan would lay many hindering stumbling blocks before
When the Holy Spirit speaks and gives direction to certain
ministries, we need not expect clear sailing but should ready
ourselves for Satan's attack. However, we must not be in dismay but
know that divine protection and direction will be given. Many
examples are given in the Word that assure us that God will make a
way of guidance. An angel of the Lord guided Philip to the Ethiopian
eunuch. Paul and Timothy were "forbidden" by the Holy Spirit to
preach the Word in Asia. When they tried to go to Bethynia, the
Spirit did not permit them to go.
Under such guidance of the Holy Spirit, sailing northwest from
Troas, Paul and Barnabas anchored for a night off the island of
Samothrace, then went on a hundred twenty miles to the mainland of
Neapolis, then traveled a few miles inland to Philippi where the
midnight prayer meeting would occur.
Apparently there was no synagogue in Philippi. Paul and Barnabas and
those who accompanied them searched for praying people. Hungry in
their hearts to pray and thirsty for fellowship, they heard of some
Jewish people who gathered on the Sabbath outside of the city on the
bank of the river. Their attending the prayer meeting led to the
conversion of a business woman named Lydia, who opened her heart to
Paul's preaching and she and her housewhole received Christ and were
saved. This was indeed a victorious riverside prayer meeting.
On another day, Paul and his companions were walking toward the
riverbank to participate in another prayer meeting and they met more
opposition from Satan. We must learn that Satan is persistent and
does not soon, on his own, step aside to give a clear road to the
ministry of God called people.
They met a slave girl who was gifted by Satan in the art of fortune
telling. This demon possessed slave girl followed them, crying out,
"These men are the servants of the most high God, who proclaim to us
the way of salvation." What she said was true but Paul grieved by
the sinful condition of this girl and not wishing to accept
testimony from demons, called upon the powerful name of Jesus,
commanding the demon to come out of her. Immediately she was set
free and became a sane person.
The Masters of this girl became bitterly angry and brought Paul and
Silas before the magistrates, which landed them in the Philippian
jail where the glorious midnight prayer meeting took place.
E. M Bounds beautifully describes this incident: "In this incident
we have a picture of Paul at midnight. He is in the inner prison,
dark and deadly. He has been severely and painfully scourged, his
clothing is covered with blood, while there are blood clots on his
gnashed and torn body. His feet are in the stocks, every nerve is
feverish and swollen, sensitive and painful. But we find him under
these unfavorable and suffering conditions at his favorite pursuit.
Paul is praying with Silas, his companion, in a joyous, triumphant
strain. "And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises
unto God, and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was an
earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison was shaken; and
every one's ban was loosed. And the keeper of prison awaking out of
his sleep, and seeing the prison doors opened, he drew out his
sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners
has been fled, but Paul cried out with a loud voice saying, Do
thyself no harm; for we are all here.
Never was prayer so beautiful, never more resultful. Paul was an
adept at prayer, a lover of prayer, a wondrous devotee of prayer,
who could pursue it with such joyous strains, under such conditions
of despondency and despair. What a mighty weapon of defense was
prayer to Paul! How songful! The angels doubtless stilled their
highest and sweetest notes to listen to the music which bore those
prayers to heaven. The earthquake trod along the path made by the
mighty forces of Paul's praying. He did not go out when his chains
were loosed, and the stocks fell off. His praying taught him that
God had nobler purposes that night than his own individual freedom.
His praying and the earthquake alarm were to bring salvation to that
prison, freedom from the thralldom and prison house of sin which was
prefigured to him by his body emancipation. God's providential
openings are often to test our ability to stay rather than to go. It
tested Paul's ability to stay."
May our Christian hearts be fortified with prayer that will indeed
bring grace upon the called who minister and labor in the work of
our Lord. Satan's opposition fails in the face of such midnight
praying. May our prayer closets vibrate with prayers that are
fervently lifted to God in behalf of men and women "who are
separated for the work.
The midnight prayer meeting resulted in manifold ways. Paul and
Silas were set free. The Philippian jailer and his family were
saved. The Gospel power was demonstrated.
God sent freedom and soothing comfort to the wounds of Paul and
Silas. Paul in this dark hour resorted to the one source that he
knew would deliver them. Paul turned to prayer and song. They
together called upon God and God put a song of deliverance in their
hearts and the prisoners heard and saw the earth shaken results. O'
the need for such praying before this present day world that sees
little faith and urgent praying going on by the Church. This sinful
world needs to hear the joyful and triumphant song of deliverance in
this midnight hour prior to the return of our Lord. Should the lost
of today hear sounds of praying and singing such as the prisoners of
Philippi heard, we would hear more inquiring, "What must I do to be
The Philippian jailer was set free. Seeing the demonstrated power of
God, this jailer ask the right question: What must I do to be saved?
Paul's answer was quick and positive: Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ and thou shall be saved, and thy house.
May I direct this question to any who have not as yet been saved: If
you decided to be saved, would you know how? This question I would
ask you that are saved: Should you be asked the question of an
inquiring soul, What must I do to be saved; Would you be able to
quickly answer the lost soul?
The Gospel Power Demonstrated
What is this gospel that has such power to save? The answer is
given in I Corinthians 15:3,4 "For I delivered unto you first of all
that which I also received , how that Christ died for our sins
according to the scriptures. And that he was buried, and that he
rose again the third day according to the scriptures..."
This three-fold answer is the true power of the gospel that is a
force of deliverance to any and all lost souls. Christ Jesus the
God-man died for you, was buried for you, and rose from the dead for
you; And is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for you.
(John 2:12) He is indeed our ever present advocate, interceding, and
as our propitiation constantly removing the difficulty of sin so
that God's favor may be given to us.
Paul preaching the gospel at midnight in the Philippian jail, loosed
a power that brought salvation to all that believed. All men can by
faith in Jesus Christ release the power of God that saves the soul .
. . "but as many as received Him. to them gave he power to become
the sons of God. Even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation only when you believe;
your faith in Jesus releases the power of God that saves your soul.
In closing my thoughts concerning this incident in the jail at
Philippi I would urge every lost soul to accept Christ as Saviour by
faith, and pray: "O' God I am lost in sin. Jesus I know you love me
because you died on the cross bearing my sins and that you came
forth from the grave. I confess that I am a sinner and cannot save
myself. I do now, accept You as my personal Saviour. Thank you for
giving me a home in heaven when I die. Amen."
(W. Clyde Martin is editor of THE
PRAYER LIFE, a monthly online magazine that promotes closet praying
among the redeemed. You may contact him by