“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.'” (Jonah 2:1-2)
Even as a prophet of God, Jonah was as human as you and I, making many mistakes during his time of ministry. He ran away from God to the point where he was cast overboard from a boat, and the Lord sent a great fish to swallow him whole, where Jonah stayed three days and three nights.
The entirety of chapter 2 is Jonah’s prayer of both thanksgiving and deliverance. As I was reading through it, I realized how powerful of a prayer it was, and I found myself exchanging certain words that were specific to his circumstance, with words specific to my own. In this way, Jonah’s prayer is completely applicable and transferrable to us even today.
A few things I noticed:
- Jonah immediately prayed and gave thanksgiving to God, even though he wasn’t completely out of harm’s way yet (he was still inside the fish!)
- He admitted his distress and recognized that his own sin caused the Lord to “hurl him into the deep” and to be “banished from His sight”.
- He knew the seriousness of his mistake and that he was at the brink of death
- He acknowledged that God saved him and pulled him from the clutches of being buried alive at sea
- He confessed in saying that those who cling to idols “forfeit God’s grace”, and repented by vowing to turn around and “make good”
- And finally he declared that “Salvation comes from the Lord.”
…”And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10)
Proverbs 15:29 reminds us that “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” God was faithful to his child Jonah and heard his prayer. Once Jonah repented, God used the grim yet extraordinary situation to deliver Jonah and set him back on the path to doing God’s will.
From that point on, Jonah changed his mind and committed to obeying God, despite the fact that his flesh still didn’t agree with what God was calling him to do. (Remember that Jonah hated the Assyrians, and God was sending him straight to the center of the Assyrian empire in Nineveh to preach to them.)
Chapter 2 reminds me that none of us are perfect, and many times our own desires and emotions will get in our way of following the Lord. But God will allow certain hardships and even catastrophes to happen as a consequence of our sin, as many times it’s literally the only thing that will get our attention. In His goodness, He will use these trials to bring us to a place of self-awareness, confession, repentance, and obedience, just as He did with Jonah.
Are you gasping for air, sinking to the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by the dark waters of your situation? If so, take a page from Jonah’s book and take time to pray. Acknowledge God’s presence in your circumstance, and diligently seek exactly what He is speaking to you through it. He is sovereign and assigns purpose to everything we go through.
Jonah had 3 days and 3 nights to focus 100% on the Lord in an intimate time of prayer, repentance, and worship- you may need less time or you may need even more. My point is, commit today to seeking Him through prayer, reading the Word, and seeking godly council. He hears the prayers of the righteous and will use our circumstances to draw us back to Him.
[From February 19, 2019]