The Midnight Cry Of Jonah
The Prayer of Jonah
Jonah’s encounter with the fish [ The big Fish of God ] has given believers all over the world, one of the great lessons on the consequences of disobeying God’s commands. For the entire world outside the Christians community, it has made a tremendous reading.
The story of Jonah and his desperate cry from the belly of a hungry whale is easy to understand and like the story of David and Gargantuan –mouthed Goliath of Garth is the children’s favorite bible story.
It has all the elements of great drama, sport lighting rebellion, storms of live, swallowed by hardships, survival instincts, repentance and final acceptance and forgiveness by the God of mercy. It is action packed and within the episode, lies one of the miracle prayers in the holy bible- “The prayer of Jonah”
Tucked into the second chapter of the book of Jonah, is this profound prayer that Jonah remembered to pray from inside the belly of the fish. It was a prayer of sudden acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty, a final surrender to God’s plans and purpose in his life and a prayer of faith for mercy and deliverance from the great God and Lord of heaven’s armies.
It should be recalled that Jonah was a prophet living in a time when the nation Israel was hunted for by the Assyrians. God had sent this prophet to Nineveh to preach against their wickedness ,waywardness and worldliness, and probably call them to order and repentance. Summarily, God had offered the sinful nation an opportunity to come back to him and sent his prophet to do the evangelism but he bluntly refused the assignment.
Jonah was mad with God’s decision to have mercy on the hard –hearted people of Nineveh whom he wanted dead. He did not want any measure of mercy doled out to this enemy of God’s people. He hatched a plan. Instead of going to Nineveh to give them God’s warnings and mercy plan, he cleverly went in the opposite direction in order to get out of the presence of Jehovah [meaning the self existing one] Who knows all and can see all in every direction, in all the nooks and corners of the earth. H e sees every heart and cannot be toyed with or deceived by man.
He [God] had a plan for Jonah but Jonah wanted to have his own way. When he boarded a ship in the opposite direction, outside the will of God, God prepared a fish to teach him a three day lesson in the belly of the great whale. The storm that gave Jonah up to the waiting whale was severe that the ship’s crew cast lots to fish out who was responsible for the predicament. The lot fell on Jonah who immediately admitted he was the culprit. He then demanded to be thrown overboard into the sea if the sea must remain calm and lives saved . This they did to their surprise the raging tempest stopped and they continued their journey.
Since the Lord had prepared a fish to swallow and teach Jonah lessons, he found warmth and “rest “ in his sudden environment “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah . And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” Jonah 1;17. When he was finally thrown a board, he had no other human alternative than to die, he seemed resigned to die, but inside the “storeroom” of the fish, he discovered the that though death compassed him about, death in the real sense was not in the wind of death that blew on him. Day after day, Jonah did not die, then hope started rising from within him.
Then Jonah came to his senses and spoke to God saying-“ I am cast out of thy sight, yet, I will look again toward your holy temple” signifying there is always great deliverance in the temple of the most high God. Jonah ‘s trust in God was immediately revived, he surrendered his will, he would no longer turn away from the will of God, he would no longer fight God nor his plans, he would no longer argue or rebel against God.
Prayer-“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord and he heard me, out of the belly of hell cried I and thou heard est my voice. For thou hast cast me into the deep. In the midst of the seas and the floods compassed me about, all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight , yet I will look again towards thy holy temple The waters compassed me about even to the soul, the depth closed me round about ,the weed were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains, the earth with her bars was about me for ever, yet have thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.
When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord and my prayers came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities, forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving, I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2;1-9.
Answer—And the Lord spake unto the fish and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land. Jonah 2;10.
The story and prayer of Jonah, confirms God’s supremacy over all. It established his sovereignty over all that he created , it also established the fact that God is ready to forgive all our sins and trespasses, and even those who are far from him, he still has a plan of salvation for them, to show them his mercy Jonah was contrary, he never wanted Nineveh saved. Just as the elder brother of the prodigal son never wanted his brother pardoned…Mathew 21 ;28-32.
But when he turned to God with his whole heart, his prayer worked. From all indications, Jonah was already dead, for he was swallowed out of existence, from earth's surface, but God raised him from "death" when he looked back at the temple, pleaded for mercy and was ready to work with God and for God. That is the best way to make prayers work, when we repent of our sins, confess them out, sanctify our hearts and vow never to go back to them again. When we pay our tithes , offerings, and vows, when we trust whole- heartily on God and the written words and when we realise that if we rebuke the devil he will flee.
The Prayer of Jonah
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