Lydia image by Maria Elkins
On the sabbath day we went outside the gate to a place by a river where we reckoned there was a place of prayer, and there we sat down. Some women had gathered and we spoke to them. There was a woman called Lydia…
As we were going to the place of prayer we were met by a girl with a spirit of divination.
Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a huge earthquake., which shook the foundations of the prison. At once all the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains became loose.
It’s pretty amazing what happens when we go to prayer. When we keep consistently going to prayer.
Things happen. Supernatural things, divine appointments and interruptions, meetings to be written about for all time…like we have here.
Just keep going to prayer. To prayer services, gatherings, closets, everything. Just keep praying. And your eyes will be opened to so much going on around you that you didn’t (couldn’t?) even see before.
If Paul and company had not gone to prayer on this specific sabbath, they would not have met Lydia and witnessed the Lord open her heart to the Gospel. For Lydia to be written about here is huge. Not only was she a woman, but she was rich. And we know how money can keep people from God, because Jesus talked about the camel and needle thing.
For anyone thinking the Bible denigrates women, we have stories such as these that show us just how far ahead so many early Christians were of their time.
When compared to conventional Jewish and Greco-Roman ideas about women, the church must have seemed radical in the way it welcomed women and featured them as leaders and prophets.
The early church had leaders like Lydia even though it seems to have struggled to square the cultural presuppositions about women with the gifts and leadership of women within early congregations…
Perhaps Luke gives prominence to the role of women like Lydia to assure Theophilus’ church–a church which may have regressed to more conventional cultural mores regarding the status of women–that the leadership of women had apostolic precedent.