Pray and Sing at the Right Time!
16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."
18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.
19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
(New King James Bible)
The Apostle Paul and the Prophet Silas were in the city of Philippi meeting with the new believers there, when this slave girl began following them, and shouting publicly the purpose of their visit to Philippi.
Now, what the girl shouted was the truth. Paul and Silas certainly were the servants of the Most High God, and they were indeed proclaiming to the city of Philippi, the way of salvation.
Paul took this time to assess how to respond to the words this girl shouted.
The Spirit of God revealed to Paul that this was a spirit of divination speaking through the girl. The fortune-telling ability came, not from the Holy Spirit, but it was from Satan.
Therefore, Paul addressed this command to the spirit of divination:
"I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her."
And he came out that very hour. (Acts 16: 18)
It is clear that the spirit of divination left the girl, because she lost her ability to tell fortunes and that brought the wrath of her masters down on Paul and Silas.
Why would Satan inspire this girl to follow men of God and shout their purpose and announce their mission in this manner?
The answer to that, is that Satan's intention was probably to see whether he could deceive Paul and Silas into believing that this girl was a prophet of God. If they had been fooled, Satan would have succeeded in planting his agent into the fledgling church in Philippi, to destroy God's work there.
Alternatively, if Paul and Silas were not deceived, Satan was seeking to provoke exactly the result that came about in verse 19: trouble for Paul and Silas that could have ended their ministry and even their lives.
Satan hates all human beings.
He certainly cared nothing about what happened eventually to the girl.
He cared nothing for the money her masters were making from her "gift".
But his serious and deadly aim was to stop the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: which is what Paul and Silas were doing. That is still his purpose today.
Does that mean that Christians should back down and be silent?
Look at the response of Paul and Silas in this case:
20 And they brought [Paul and Silas] to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city;
21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
23 And when they had laid many [wounds] on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (New King James Bible)
Paul and Silas were not at all intimidated!
Father in heaven,
today I commit my heart, life and future to You.
I understand clearly that because I have done this,
Your enemy and mine, Satan,
will come against me with trials, temptations and tests,
to discourage me from walking in Your path for me.
Or he may seek to deceive me, so that I leave Your path and follow strange voices which seem to be from You, but are not.
Lord, I embrace this adventure of walking with You,
knowing that You will keep me on Your path of righteousness
because Your will is for me to be victorious in You,
as the Lord Jesus was. Amen.