“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said,“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.”….As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple…But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” – Jonah 2:1-9.
It is harder to imagine a more unique prayer closet than a big fish. But this is where Jonah prayed to God. Jonah makes a series of questionable series of decisions and subsequent steps. Maybe you can see yourself in a few of the steps that Jonah took: God gives us a command to do something. After quick consideration, we decide we are not going to follow His command. We believe we have valid reasons for not listening to God. God allows a crisis moment in our lives in which we believe we have hit rock bottom and we cry out to God. We ask for God’s forgiveness and the opportunity to be restored out of the mess we find ourselves in. God restores us and sets us on the right path again. We understand God’s original command and decide to do what God is asking us to do.
So here we have Jonah, lying in the belly of a fish, seaweed wrapped around his neck, and generally having a very bad day. It would seem like to good time to cry out to God and Jonah does. It is very unlikely that we will find ourselves in the same circumstances as Jonah, but there is something in Jonah’s prayer for you today. For example, we can learn the fundamental truth that God is always accessible.
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.” (Jonah 2:1-2) Jonah was a prophet, but he was infallible. The prayer in Jonah 2 is the words of a desperate man who could have turned inward and sunk further into separation from God. But he realized that even in his sin, God was still close by. God could have allowed Jonah to drown. He could have started over with someone else. He did not. In His grace, He allows the fish to swallow up Jonah and in that, Jonah realizes he has been spared and given a second chance. As dark as the place is where he sits, God is not far off and distant. God is near.
The prayer also points out that God wants to restore us. “As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.” (Jonah 2:7)
Sometimes we feel unworthy and undeserving. We have nothing to give to Him, nor could we ever repay Him. The great thing about Jonah’s change in the belly of the fish is that it forces him to rely upon the character of God, not his own.
God is just as close in your tough times, your trials and your desperate moments as when the seas are calm around you. He hears and answers your prayers as He did for Jonah.
- Why is it important to pray when you feel hopeless?
- What can we learn from Jonah’s prayer that we can apply in our lives this week?