Forty Days of Prayer
Thirty days ago we had a passage from Jonah where the King of Nineveh prayed in confession. Today we are going to hear the prayer of Jonah from within the belly of whatever swallowed him.
Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore. (Jonah Chapter 2 Message)
Sometimes prayer is the last resort of people. When all else fails, they pray. As we have been pondering prayer that is not what it was meant to be, but a daily dialogue between our Heavenly Father and each and every one of us. It is interesting that Jonah is asked by God to do something big, go to Nineveh and tell them they are evil, but instead he runs away from God going as far west as possible instead of going east. He does not pray about this issue until it is the last possible choice to be made. When all else fails, pray. The great thing about this is that God hears your prayer. God answered Jonah’s prayer and brought him to safety. His passage was not an easy one, being vomited up is not going to be a normal experience. I remember reading one article about Jonah and wondering if the reason Nineveh believed him, was because he looked like someone who had come back from the dead. Bleached from gastric juices he may have had an appearance of someone from another world.
In my 24 years of ministry I have met a lot of people with no more options. I tell them we should pray, that they should pray. Sometimes they wonder if God would not listen because they have forgotten Him until now. This chapter of scripture reminds us that He is ready and waiting to hear our prayers, at any time and place, just like Jonah.
In Christ’s Service, Pastor Dave
Dear Lord, help me make prayer my first choice every day. Yet remind me, there is no place or situation where You are not anxious to hear me speak and call on Your Holy Name. Amen.