TEXT: Acts 16:16-18
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 225 messages in this series.
This is message #226 titled, Dealing with Distractions in Prayer.
Once again, we find Paul, Silas, and Luke on their way to prayer. A few verses prior to this, we saw them at the riverside praying with and sharing the Gospel with the God-fearing women of the city of Philippi. Now, they are staying at the house of one of those women, Lydia.
As these three are on their way to prayer, perhaps by the riverside once again, they are accosted by a young woman who “possesses a spirit of divination” and who “brought her masters much gain by soothsaying” or fortune-telling. This woman was like the psychics or palm-readers that we have today who claim they can tell things about a person or about their future by reading their palms or looking at a set of cards. Of course, all of these individuals are frauds, and all have tapped in to demonic powers, and that is what is going on here.
The Bible says this woman followed Paul and his companions crying out, “These are the servants of the Most High God which show unto us the way of salvation.” This went on “for many days.” For days on end, whenever Paul and Silas and Luke would go out to pray or preach, this woman would come crying after them. On the surface, it sounds like she is doing a good thing. Surely, Paul’s ministry could have been benefitted by the free advertisement. Certainly, this woman was telling the truth. But the devil can do good for an evil purpose. And Paul recognizes an evil spirit in this woman.
This is often how the devil will try to distract us from prayer. He will take those things which are good and use them to get your mind off of the greater good of prayer. One commentator wrote, “Distractions can trip us up, sometimes without notice. First, they make their way into our prayer time on a peripheral tangent even though we hardly open the door. Then, before too long, like uninvited guests, they overshadow our minds and guide us away from the Lord. But the good news is that we are not hopelessly bound to these invaders. God wants us to know that it is possible to win the battle against the distractions that come at us when we try to pray.”
It is amazing the many things that come to your mind that need to be done when it is time for you to pray. Good things — bills that need to be paid, people you need to call, people trying to call you, appointments that need to be followed up on, etc. All things that should be done. God would even be pleased if you do these things, but none of these things should take the place of prayer. We must, as Paul did, recognize that sometimes the devil is trying to distract us from the greater work.
The Bible says Paul “was grieved” in his spirit. The Holy Spirit inside of him could not suffer this distraction to continue. The devil was bringing attention to them, but it was attention for the wrong reasons. So Paul “turned and said to the demonic spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
Similarly, in our prayer lives, we must refuse to get caught up in the distractions that come our way. We must be able to discern by the Holy Spirit’s power when something is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed and when the devil is trying to get us off track from what we are supposed to be doing, which is praying without ceasing and praying at appointed times.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.