Lessons on Prayer from a Fish's Belly

“'But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.
While I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.'
Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” Jonah 2:6-10.

The most helpful lessons we could ever learn may come from reading, listening, and meditating upon the prayers of those who are servants of the Lord. And of course this is not only true Biblically, but also historically and presently. Please dear saints, listen to how people pray!

Well then, what do we need to observe from the prayers of other servants of the Lord? Several things.

Consider the context and note the answer

First, we need to consider the context of who is praying, where they are praying from, and what their expectations might be.

Secondly, if there is an answer present in their prayers, to note the answer and let God’s faithfulness encourage us.

We’ll take a few moments to look at Jonah’s prayer with these factors in mind.

Where was Jonah?
 
Where was Jonah when he prayed this prayer? In the abdominal cavern of a great fish.

He describes this very clearly in the preceding verses, verses 1 through 6.

“'I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.
For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
Water encompassed me to the point of death.
The great deep engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I descended to the roots of the mountains.
The earth with its bars was around me forever.'” Jonah 2:1-6.

And yet even in this place, seemingly hidden from God’s sight, something in Jonah rises in faith to cry to the One who hears all prayers, no matter where they are prayed from.

Look at this confession of faith:

“So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.'” (Of course Jonah is speaking metaphorically, because he literally has no idea what the direction of God’s holy temple is.)

He knew that God would hear and answer if he prayed.

Jonah remembered that his salvation is from the Lord

Let’s look at this prayer!
“'But You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. While I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.'” Jonah 2:6-9.

Can you see how evident it is, that Jonah has been in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord? He somehow knew that God would redeem him. And in this desperate prayer for deliverance, his memory kicks in and reminds him that a part of prayer is confession and repentance.

And then from the mouth of this drenched, weed-soaked, reluctant prophet is the final witness to every prayer that is prayed.

“Salvation is from the Lord.” All praise to Him who always listens to our cries for deliverance.

Blessings and prayers,
Pastor Gene

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