Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!
~ Philippians 3:1a (NIV)
We’ve been learning personal lessons from prison from Pastor Okuk Ojulu in Ethiopia as he shared them with Jim Cunningham.
He says, “The fourth lesson is to Rejoice in the Lord always in the prison.
“Prison means cutting off almost all your freedoms from the previous life. The devil is more pressing in the prison than anywhere in life, preaching negatives things to us. The most powerful tool for victory in our Christian lives in the midst of negatives is to preach positives to defeat the devil of negatives. In other words, it is to develop a positive attitude in a hostile situation like in the prison.
“In Philippians 3:1, it says, Rejoice in the Lord! Rejoicing in the Lord always enables us to approach the burning bush for a release from the prison. Let our prayer contain: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
“I hope this kind of prayer can discipline us, and help make us approach the Lord very closely in the burning bush—the very place where we can hear a distilled voice from Him for the deliverance of many in their misery. The burning bush does not burn us up, but it makes us remove our sandals when we approach it.”
Pastor Okok was released after three and a half years and God has rewarded his ministry, even his family. One of his daughters was chosen as Miss Ethiopia which paid for her education.
He continues to minister in freedom but with new perspectives based on his prison life.
Prison experiences are very personal and very impacting. I think that must be why I enjoy reading memoirs of Christians who have been in prison. They are so positive and uplifting compared to those of non-Christians.
I especially remember the prayer of a Christian brother who was in prison for years in Romania during the difficult years of the cold war. He prayed:
“Lord, I look forward to the great day I see you and your family in heaven. I look forward to seeing the great evangelists standing before you. I look forward to the day I see all the missionaries coming home rejoicing with their sheaves. I look forward to hearing all the great singers of the world praising you. I look forward to seeing the great preachers of the ages standing before you.
“But Lord, I have one special request. When that day comes, allow me to be there in the clothing of a prisoner. I want to praise you throughout eternity in my prisoner’s clothes to always remind me that I was a prisoner for you.”
RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice in the Lord in the face of all the negatives that Satan tries to throw at me.
PRAYER: Lord, You are worthy of my praise and joyfulness no matter what circumstances I am in.