The Prayer of a Distressed Prophet

5 Mins read

“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 heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep…Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look again toward thy holy temple” (KJV, Jon. 2:1-4).

“Then Jonah”

Father, I thank You for Your Word and the ways You have spoken to me through the book of Jonah. I see in Your prophet someone who struggled with the will of God. So often, I find that I can be like Jonah. Thank you for being patient with me and not giving up on me. You have endured with me through many sins and rebellions, and for that, I am thankful. I am undeserving of Your love, but You have loved me nonetheless.

Please forgive me for my sin and help me to honor You with my life. Help me to submit to Your will and to look upon the example of Jesus with eyes of appreciation. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Your will reached one of its most trying moments. However, Jesus prayed and yielded to Your will. He desired Your will to be done over His own despite the difficulty it brought.

“prayed unto the Lord his God”

Teach me to turn to You during times of difficulty. Teach me to pray as Jesus and Jonah did. No matter how much I read about prayer, I realize I will only grow in it as I practice it. The more I pray, the easier it gets, but I find it harder to want to pray again when I neglect prayer. Help me to establish an attitude of prayer and to remain in communion with You throughout the day. Cause me to heed the words of Paul when he told me to pray without ceasing.

Sometimes I can view prayer as more of a chore and a burden. Sometimes I can rush through prayer to check it off my list of things to do. However, I realize that my heart attitude is not good and needs to change. Help me to enjoy prayer. Work in my heart so that I would desire to spend time with You as Jesus did when He retreated to desolate places to seek You in prayer.

“out of the fish’s belly”

Jonah cried out from the belly of the fish. So often, I see that I must be brought low to engage You in fruitful prayer. Sometimes I recognize that my days must be met with darkness for me to cry out to You. Your discipline has been good for me, although it has been challenging.

Your Word tells me that Your discipline is meant to yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness if I am adequately trained by it. Nevertheless, there are times when I do not respond to Your discipline as I ought. Therefore, I pray for Your help during times of training. Help me to seek Your will and die to self.

“And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord”

Jonah cried because of his affliction. My natural tendency is to view times of difficulty as bad. So often, I want to run like Jonah during these times, and I do not see them as I ought. Please give me a biblical perspective concerning affliction.

Your Word tells me that the Psalmist used to go astray, but after he was afflicted, he would keep Your Word. Paul told me that His affliction caused him to rely on You, not himself. After Job suffered, he declared he could see You in new and exciting ways.

A day arose in the life of Nebuchadnezzar when he looked at his kingdom and took credit for its greatness instead of giving You the glory. As a result, insanity struck him, and he lost his mind. He acted like an animal and ate like an animal. But then he humbled himself in his affliction, regained his sanity, and inherited salvation when he turned to You.

“and he heard me”

Thank You for being a God who answers prayer. You are truly not the god of the deist. You have not created and left Your creation to fend for itself. Instead, you hear my prayers and arise for my cause; for that, I am thankful. You are my Rock and my Fortress. You are my God, the One in Whom I take refuge.

Please help me to align myself with Your Word. When I abide in Christ, and His words abide within me, I am told that I can ask whatever I wish, and it will be done for me. Elsewhere I am told that if I cherish sin in my heart, You will not listen. Finally, I read that if I turn my ear from Your law, my prayer will be an abomination.

“out of the belly of hell cried I”

Yet again, I read of Jonah declaring that he cried to You amid his affliction. James instructs me to consider my trials pure joy because they develop steadfastness in me. Paul has told me that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character.

When I ponder the necessity of affliction, I notice that during these difficult times, it becomes hard to exercise the fruit of the Spirit. It is hard to be kind and joyful during times of affliction, but when I am tested in this way, I will experience growth.

“and thou heardest my voice”

What an encouraging statement. Jonah had already declared twice that he was afflicted. He had also stated twice that he cried out to You. But here I read Jonah saying for the second time that You heard his voice.

You did not afflict Jonah with a desire to cast him off forever. Instead, Your goal was to restore Him to Yourself. Thank You for the story of Jonah and for hearing his cries for mercy. Thank you for helping me see that I can cry out to You and be heard amid my affliction.

“For thou hadst cast me into the deep”

It was not by accident that Jonah found himself in the belly of the fish. Your Word tells me that You appointed the fish and the storm. While Jonah ran from You, You followed. Jonah seemingly desired death over Your will, but You would not allow it.

You are the One Who cast Jonah into the deep. His life was in Your hands. You are the Sovereign God of the Universe. You control all events and orchestrate them to fulfill Your perfect plan. While I cannot fathom the depths of Your sovereignty, I pray that You would give me eyes of faith to believe.

“Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight”

Jonah was met with darkness in the belly of the fish. The darkness was illustrative of his feelings of being separated from You. He believed he was cast out of Your sight. However, in reality, You were working in his life to draw him back to Yourself.

You never let Your prophet go, nor will You let me go. You have declared that You will never leave me or forsake me. You have given me Your Spirit as a guarantee of what is to come. You have me in the palms of Your hand and will guide me to the end.

“yet I will look again toward thy holy temple”

I pray You will help me look to You during adversity. So often, I can fix my eyes on the storm like Peter did and sink in the water. Turn my eyes and my heart Your way. Help me see what is stored up for me in Jesus Christ.

Jonah waited upon You in his affliction. I can grow impatient and need to learn the discipline of waiting on You. It is when I remember to wait upon You with the eyes of faith that I will be met with strength and mount up on the wings of eagles. You will restore my strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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