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Jonah 2

The Prophet Prays

Jonah found himself in the water as the men on the boat watched to see what would become of this Hebrew. Scripture does not indicate how long he was in the water before the great fish swallowed him, but it does tell us that he was in the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah found himself in an environment that was unlike anything he could have ever imagined. He must have been terrified while he was trapped in darkness. The textures, smells, and tastes must have been so alien to him that he was left him feeling as if every moment might be his last. However, his worst nightmare turned out to be his salvation. The Lord preserved him inside this great fish, and it was there inside the fish, alone, trapped, and desperate that Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. This prophet knew the scripture, so Jonah's prayer was filled with many familiar words and phrases. Jonah was as good as dead, and although this prophet was walking in willful disobedience, he prayed, and the Lord answered. Jonah knew that God had placed him in these circumstances and it was certainly warranted. However, it was not the prospect of drowning that terrified him, but the thought of being driven from the Lord in death. Jonah wanted to run from God, but now the idea of being out of God's presence was unbearable. Jonah came to the realization that there is hope, even at the root of the mountains. The Lord who saved him from the pit would deliver him from the water and the great fish. Jonah was confident that he would look upon God's holy temple, sing songs of thanksgiving, and offer sacrifices. Jonah is aware of how much he was indebted to divine grace. His prayer concludes with the declaration, "Salvation belongs to the Lord." The sailors on the ship needed salvation in chapter one, Jonah needed salvation in chapter two, and Nineveh still needs salvation. Jonah's prayer in the water is answered immediately, but the suffering continued. We can only speculate what went through his mind during that period. He had no way of measuring time, but it must have seemed like an eternity. Nonetheless, the Lord had a purpose in prolonging Jonah’s stay in the fish until, at just the right time, he is violently thrown upon the dry land.

Things To Consider:

  • Do you ever delay prayer until you are in distress? Why?
  • Why would God listen to Jonah at all?
  • Have you ever prayed while in distress? When? What were the circumstances?
  • Does Jonah actually ask God for anything in this prayer?
  • Does this passage teach us anything about the importance of memorizing scripture?
  • What can be learned about God from the fact that he speaks to a fish?
  • How can our love of idols forsake God's steadfast love?
  • Why does salvation belong to the Lord?