From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. Jonah 2:1 (NIV).
As chapter 2 starts, we learn that Jonah is conscious inside the fish. He is consciously praying to the Lord, his God. At this verse, two thoughts come to mind.
One, bravo Jonah. Praying is the best thing he could do.
And, two, fish are gross; ew.
My wife loaned me a Bible study on Jonah. It was done by Priscilla Shirer, and was one of the studies her ladies’ group recently completed. As I read it, my wife commented about Jonah being in the fish, about how they are slimy, and they smell. They’re sleek and agile, but also oily and messy. I can imagine that, even in the warm Mediterranean sea, it wouldn’t have been pleasant, or comfortable. And Jonah was alive through it.
Jonah was in the fish for three days. Maybe he was in its mouth, or in its stomach. By the end of the first hour, Jonah would have been in shock; by the end of the third day, he would have been panicked. And he would have smelled awful. He would have smelled so bad, so much like the fish, that he wouldn’t even be able to tell anymore. So what did he do? Jonah prayed. When he realized he might very well be dying (digesting actually) Jonah prayed. He realized the desperation of his predicament and so he humbled himself to his God.
Notice that it’s personal for Jonah. He understands that he has nowhere else to go, doesn’t know where he is, and that things seem hopeless. So, he clings to faith to talk with the God who made all things, including the hungry fish.
Even more than that, however, consider what God had done. Jonah had rebelled against Him, directly walked away from a mission that God had hand-picked for him. And the men on the ship had turned on him. And he might have drowned in a churning sea. And now, he was in a fish.
But God had intervened. As Ms Shirer said, God had personally intervened to make a hopeless situation into something hopeful. Jonah wasn’t dead yet, and when he realized it, he prayed. He reached out to the God who had already reached out to him.
If you think about it, that God’s modus operandi all the time. He always reaches out to us before we reach out to Him. In fact, that’s how it has always been, from Eden even to now. Even when Jonah was all slimed up in the fish.
When Jonah realized that, he prayed. He must have prayed a lot during those three days. Tune in next time to see some of what he prayed.
For further reading: Jonah 2:2
Graceful Lord, You always reach to me before I reach to You. Thank You so much for that!
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