Day 22

Jonah’s Prayer

from the Lent 2016 reading plan

Jonah 2:1-10, Psalm 88:4-5, Psalm 88:10–12, Hebrews 4:16

This is part of a 7-day series on Jonah in the Lent 2016 reading plan. 

Though I doubt anyone has done time in the belly of a whale, I think most of us can recall circumstances that have driven us to the end of ourselves. My greatest trials have driven me to ask: How will I recover? How could there ever again be light and hope?

Sometimes it is my own foolishness and sin that drive me to such circumstances. In such times, I do not feel confident. I struggle to walk in a spirit of thanksgiving. More often than not, this is because I have set my eyes only on the depths of darkness, and I have asked, “Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you?” (Ps 88:10).

When I first sat down and read this passage, the images that struck me most were the heart of the seas, the current which overcomes, and the billows that overwhelm (Jonah 2:3). My eyes are naturally drawn to the depths. Of course, Jonah’s prayer is not actually about the depths themselves, but about God’s great mercy and rescue from them.

Jonah was in the depths because of his sin and folly. He had rejected his own calling, and fled from God’s presence. Until he found himself swallowed by the sea, his eyes were turned away from God. Ironically, it was God’s judgment that rescued Jonah.

“You threw me into the depths, into the heart of the seas,” Jonah declared. “But You raised my life from the pit, Lord my God! As my life was fading away, I remembered Yahweh” (Jonah 2:3-7).

I tend to have a fearful and negative view of God’s judgement. Yet mercifully, even God’s judgment calls us to Himself. In His wrath, He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:2). It is precisely this great mercy that Jonah sees as he is finally brought to the end of himself.

Does God work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise Him? Yes. The Messianic imagery of Psalm 88 reminds us of this very truth: God has worked wonders for the dead: His work of salvation is a work of wonder for those who are dead in their trespasses (Eph. 2:5).

Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), and “even if I make my bed in Sheol, He will find me” (Ps 139:8). For this reason we, like Jonah, can respond to God’s judgement with a voice of thanksgiving. Yet how quickly I neglect thanksgiving! How quickly I fall to despair, instead of crying out to God! How often I run to my own feeble strength, instead of confessing my weakness and my need of Him. How foolishly I run to worthless idols and forsake His faithful love, which reaches even to the depths of Sheol!

Jonah’s prayer is a remarkable reminder to us of the great grace of God and the great hope we have in Him, even in the darkest of hours when the billows have overwhelmed us because of our own sin and folly. Because of His great mercy, we may “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (O what great grace!), “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need!” (Heb 4:16).

Are you weary, overwhelmed, and thrown into the depths? Have the billows swept over you? Has your folly overtaken you? Is your life fading away? Remember Yahweh. Salvation is from the Lord!

Written By Caleb Faires

Post Comments (16)

16 thoughts on "Jonah’s Prayer"

  1. Isaac Jones says:

    God reaches and rescues those captured from the death they are in. God gives new life to the spiritually dead. Even in God’s wrath, He shows mercy. God reveals to us our wretched state and rescues us.

  2. Isaac Jones says:

    Man is wretched and dead in his trespasses and sins. It is Only by the grace of God and His mercy amidst the wrath toward sin that saves us. God hates sin, yet He extends His love to us. God loved us in this that while we were sinners Christ died for us and God covenanted with us.

  3. Isaac Jones says:

    God has made covenants with man. God rescues from the depths. There is no sinner to great for God, for all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

  4. Isaac Jones says:

    I will respond by calling on the name of the Lord in the depths of my sin.

  5. Isaac Jones says:

    Thank you for this app which is a platform for me to see your truth and apply it to my sin. God, it s true, I have been courting the depths of sin that you have freed me from. God I am like a dog sniffing at its own vomit. Lord forgive me for sinning against you; please forgive me for not trusting you. Father please save me from my sin and shame. Please cover me in your grace and mercy. Show me wisdom and discernment, and write your ways on my heart. May I lead others to follow after you; amen.

  6. Avarice Holman Jr says:

    When we find ourselves in “the depths” it is often our own sin and foolishness that led us there.

  7. Avarice Holman Jr says:

    God is rich in mercy. In His judgment of our sin, God remembers mercy! This is the Gospel!

  8. Avarice Holman Jr says:

    Even in His judgment, God is merciful.

  9. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    There is no place I can go, physically or emotionally, where God’s mercy and judgment cannot reach

  10. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    Man is saved not just from an aimless and hopeless life, but saved from DEATH! Man is DEAD in his trespasses

  11. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    Lord, stain my heart with the FACT that I cannot escape your presence. And that is GOOD news. Let my hope in you trump all other desires Satan tries to tempt me with.


  12. Daniel says:

    The grace and love of Christ will find and restore us, even in the pit.

  13. Daniel says:

    Focusing not on the storm; but the rescuer.

  14. Daniel says:

    We often focus on the sea overtaking us; yet our faith in God should direct us to focus upon His rescue.

  15. Daniel says:

    Even when judgement and trial comes, God can use these elements to draw us nearer to Him.

  16. Daniel says:

    Lord, help me to walk in your grace, and embrace your rescue; strengthen me to not focus upon the storm, but your everlasting love and eternal victory, in, of, and for my life. Amen.

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