“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).

Music can powerfully affect our mood. The benefits of music on our mental health have been known for thousands of years, and ancient philosophers from Plato to Confucius spoke of it as a way to soothe stress. Military bands use music to raise the confidence of their troops. Sporting events play music to create enthusiasm. Dentists play quiet music to help calm nervous patients. Even babies love to hear mothers sing lullabies.

While listening to upbeat music has been shown to lift your mood, singing can be even more beneficial to your mind and body. A graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies discovered the effects of music on a cellular level. Emily Lewis found that singing has been correlated with healthier DNA strands in the body. She concludes that singing is doubly beneficial to your body because it helps relax and energize you at the same time.

Paul and Silas likely hadn’t read up on the benefits of singing when they were thrown into a Philippian jail. After casting a demon out of a slave girl who followed them around, her masters, who were making a profit off her fortune-telling abilities, grabbed Paul and Silas and had them charged as troublemakers. They were whipped and the jailer “put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:24).

Instead of complaining about their predicament, the Bible paints a surprising midnight picture of Paul and Silas “praying and singing hymns to God” (verse 25). Most of us would feel justified in complaining about such unfair treatment while we groan over our wounds. But the two missionaries were lifted above their troubles through praise to God. It is a remarkable story of just how powerfully music can raise your mood—even if you are suffering in a jail cell.

Dear Jesus, today I will lift up my voice in songs of praise to You, no matter how I feel.

For Further Study: Acts 16:16–25; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16

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