Even though Paul and Silas’ circumstances are pretty bleak—placed in the innermost cell with their feet in stocks—their spirits are still somehow able to sing. And the other prisoners were listening to them
(v. 25, NIV). No wonder. Not knowing how long the other inmates have been there, we can assume they have probably not heard music, let alone singing, for a long time.
Yet here Paul and Silas are at midnight, praying and singing to God when no one would have blamed them for outright weeping. We don’t know if they sang familiar hymns or just songs from the heart.
Were they singing to express their solid faith and trust in God or were they trying to center themselves amidst this crisis? Singing can lower anxiety, slow down heart rate, and lighten the weight of depression. If it can do that within an individual, why couldn’t its power extend beyond itself to others, even into nature?
The sudden earthquake sets Paul and Silas free from their physical bonds, and it seems they have already experienced a deeper level of freedom.
As Anne Lamott writes in Traveling Mercies, “Maybe it’s because music is about as physical as it gets: your heartbeat, your essential sound, the breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way.”
What are ways you get “out of your head” to pray? Do you pray while you sing, walk, paint, cook, or dance?
Open my heart and imagination, God, to experience you through my senses and the world around me. Amen.