Most of us are familiar with the story of Jonah, especially the part about the whale. Jonah was a prophet who refused the Lord’s command to go to Nineveh and instead boarded a ship headed in the opposite direction. While Jonah could run, he could not hide from God. When the ship encountered a storm, Jonah was tossed into the sea (1:12). And, sure enough, when he was thrown overboard, “the raging sea grew calm” (1:15).
In the middle of the sea, Jonah came to the realization that his life was going to end unless he submitted himself to the Lord. The Lord provided a way for Jonah not only to be transported to Nineveh but also an opportunity to cry out to the Lord. Jonah 2:1 tells us that “[f]rom inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.”
Jonah’s prayer is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance. While clinging to life, Scripture was on his mind. In his prayer, he recites the psalms at least three times (Ps. 18:6; 111:5; 120:1). God’s Word was the foundation of his prayer, and it ought to be ours as well. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “The richness of God’s Word ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.”
Jonah testifies to God’s deliverance in verses 3 to 7 in what appears to be almost a play-by-play account of what happened. It climaxes in verse 7 when he finally surrendered his life to the Lord’s will. He realized that he had been clinging to the worthless idol of selfishness and safety. In doing so, he was turning from the grace of God’s love available to all (vv. 8–10). Thankfully, he realized: “Salvation comes from the LORD” (v. 9), and the Lord provided a way for him to share that with the world.
>> Make sure your prayers are soaked in Scripture. When God’s Word is on your heart and mind, it will also be in your prayers.
Today we soak our prayer in God’s Word, taking instruction from Romans 8:26: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”