Let’s move onto Jonah’s prayer.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
Jonah knows that if and when he calls on the Lord, the Lord will answer him. And it didn’t matter where he was – belly of a fish or not, Jonah knew that the Lord would deliver him. God is the only one who can retrieve you from the mess you’ve managed to get yourself into.
Jonah did not forget that the reason or the person responsible for putting him there was himself. He recognizes this in verse 4 “I have been banished from your sight” and verse 1 “in my distress I called to the Lord.”
God is not looking for you to blame other people for the pit you’ve happily dug out for yourself. God is looking for – searching for – someone to come forward and say “I messed up. I’m not going to continue in this. Help me to fix the situation; I know you are the only one who can help me. You are the only one who will answer me and hear my cry for help.” Ezekiel 22:30 says that He (God) found no-one, do you want that to be the case now?
If you aren’t willing to accept the consequences of your own actions, how on earth are you going to stand in the gap for someone else and take their consequences?
Yet over and over Jonah is saying that God hears his cries. Not only does God hear him, but he answers Jonah!
God hears your prayers. He hears your cries for help. He answers them too. Just because you haven’t received your answer yet doesn’t mean He didn’t say it. Daniel 10:12-13 shows that an answer is put forth immediately from the throne room of heaven but it can become detained by the enemy. Keep holding onto faith, keep praying as Daniel did.
If you look at Jonah’s prayers and even the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) you will see a pattern in the beginning, both men start off with reminding both themselves and God of who God is. “Heavenly Father, hallowed be your name” and “He answered me…you listened to my cry”
Jonah took responsibility for his actions and therefore accepted the consequences that were due him. V.3 says “You (meaning God) hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.”
He isn’t blaming God for his plight, He is looking to God for forgiveness for himself (v.4 “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple”)
When we accept the consequences due us because of our stupid decisions then God is quick with His solution, His plan, His relief and forgiveness.
Even when the consequences we accept are threatening to overtake us completely, God is still in the redemption business. v. 5 and 6 say just how far down Jonah – he wasn’t just at rock bottom, he would have to come up to reach rock bottom. But praise God for the ‘But’ in v. 6.
“But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.” Someone needs to know that there is a “But you, Lord my God” in this tale of woe and sin that created many consequences.
There is a scene in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne as a child falls down this abandoned well and he cannot get out. He is surrounded by bats which create this fear within him for the rest of his days and he is down there for a good amount of time, to a child. His father is roped down to pull him out and asks “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to get back up.”
Well when we have fallen in to the consequences of our actions and we are surrounded by the things that frighten or threaten our lives (physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually), we may start to give into those things and start to carry them with us for the rest of our days.
BUT praise God in heaven that He comes and brings us up out of the pit into which we have fallen. He gets rid of those things that cling to us – or that we cling to – so that instead we can praise Him with shouts of grateful praise. These that cling to us could actually be like stones we choose to carry around. Isaiah 62:10 tells us to remove the stones (NKJV says to take out the stones) and lift up a banner for all nations. God does not want us to hold onto the stones nor keep them just lying around for someone else to stumble over. God never wants us to learn to pick ourselves up ON OUR OWN, but rather he wants us to look to Him for help constantly.
He wants us to get to the point that we immediately go to Him for help instead of a self-help book or human advice/counselors.