Jonah’s Prayer –

“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me (Psalm 120:1). Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas (Psalm 88:6), And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me (Psalm 42:7b). Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight (Psalm 31:22a); Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I 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. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple (Psalm 18:6b). Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD (Psalm 3:8a).” -Jonah 2:2-9

Did you notice all of the scripture references I included in between these verses? If you’re a frequent reader of the Psalms, you probably realized that much of the wording here sounds much like David’s writing. In fact, some of this prayer is almost identical to verses found in the book of Psalms. Even the parts that aren’t as closely worded, still communicate the same thoughts.

This is important to realize, because these words were uttered from the mouth of Jonah after he’d been thrown overboard and spent three days and nights in the stomach of a great fish. Talk about having a bad week! And while this trouble was a result of the prophet’s attempt to escape God and His command, the prayer here is one that we can all learn from, no matter the reason for our struggle.

You see, despite Jonah’s disobedience, his prayer reminds us that he was in fact a man of the Word. I highly doubt he had any form of written scripture with him at this point (if he did, I’m sure it was just a tad bit soggy), but still he was able to include so much of the Psalms into his prayer. Why? Because He knew them. Even in the times when they weren’t in his hand, he still had them in his mind. And through this knowledge of God’s Word, His heart was brought to the place it needed to be as he focused his troubled eyes on God.

“An in-depth knowledge of Scripture needs to inform our prayers… A ‘good prayer’ begins with a knowledge of God’s Word then takes present circumstances and applies to them its precepts and promises.” -Kevin Hoffman

What can you be doing to gain a deeper knowledge and a greater familiarity with the scriptures? Leave me some ideas in the comments! Also, check back on the blog tomorrow for a great plan to read through the entire book of Psalms in one month!

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