July 27th

 

The Prayer of Jonah

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish's belly. 2And he said: "I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, and He answered me. "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. 3For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4Then I said, "I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' 5The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. 7"When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. 8"Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. 9But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." 10So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  Jonah 2 NKJV 

The story of Jonah is great for those of us who feel like we ran away from God and ran into sin.  God originally instructed Jonah to go to Ninevah and “cry out against it” because of the city’s sin (Jonah 1:2).  Instead of obeying, Jonah tried to run away from God by boarding a ship for Tarshish, but ended up getting swallowed by a large fish.  While in the belly of the fish, Jonah had a change of heart which is reflected in the prayer of Jonah 2 (above).   

God gave Jonah another chance by instructing him again to go to Ninevah and preach the message that God would tell him.  This time Jonah obeyed and went to Ninevah.  The result was that Ninevah and its king repented from their sin and God relented from destroying the city.   

This story highlights God’s mercy and love for those who repent from their sin.  God gave Jonah a second chance and he also gave Ninevah the chance to repent.  The devil often tries to convince people that God is not merciful and that once we’ve blown it, we can never return to God.  Those are lies!  We have to be careful not to believe those lies and allow the devil to cut us off from God. God has no wrath toward us, because Jesus bore every bit of the wrath due to us on the cross. We now have peace with God through our trust in Jesus (Romans 5:1).   

God loves us and offers us a saving hand, if only we would simply turn from our sin and ask him to help us. We no longer have to live life in the belly of a fish because we made some mistakes.  Our new life starts when we call to God for help. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer: 

“Lord God,  I see how my sin has caused me affliction in life.  I cry out to you, Lord, in repentance from my sin. Please forgive me and cleanse me from it.  I return to you now and ask that you will once again guide me in life.  I surrender the control of my life to you and yield my will to your will.  Thank you, Father, for giving me another chance.  I praise you now and forever, Amen.”