Forty Days of Prayer – Ash Wednesday – Day 1
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah: 3: 6-9)
One aspect of prayer that is not easy is confession. It is not easy to look at your own failures and shortcomings and honestly address them. The most common way of dealing with sin is to blame someone else. Adam and Eve both did that. Another common way is making excuses. “There was really no other choice.” “Everyone else would do the same thing in that situation.” Both of these are ways of not taking responsibility for what has happened. Actual repentance means accepting your sin and bringing it to the only one who can make things right, God.
It is interesting in the passage above from Jonah, the King of Nineveh calls everyone to repent from their evil ways. I like it how the King even calls on the beasts to not eat or drink and be covered in sackcloth. He says in verse 9, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish.” I am not sure how much he knew about the Lord. Whatever he knew, the message of Jonah cut to his heart and he himself went to God in prayer in sackcloth and sitting in the dust of the earth.
If you read the next verse what does God do when the people repent? “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10) The great part of the message of Jesus and the cross is that we know what God does for us. We don’t say “Who Knows,” we know that in Christ we have the grace of God today and forevermore.
Lord during these 40 days help me draw closer to You in prayer, in my life and in my heart.