Bible Society of South Africa
Hennie Symington

Prayer – Day 5

A fishy prayer?

Bible text(s)

7When I felt my life slipping away,

then, O LORD, I prayed to you,

and in your holy Temple you heard me.

This must be the most unusual prayer ever prayed, not because it was a model prayer but because it was prayed from the depths of the sea in the stomach of a giant fish. That’s like praying from a deep dark cavernous smelly sewer with no way out!

We all know Jonah wasn’t a model prophet. In fact, I’ve seldom heard a positive sermon preached about Jonah. There’s no arguing that Jonah was stubborn, disobedient, and judgmental. Yet Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2 is a model prayer worthy of imitation. Why? Because of his honest communication with God.

First, Jonah explained the depth of his misery. He described the terror of drowning, engulfed by waves and darkness. He felt banished from God’s sight (verse 4). He also confessed that he was responsible for his predicament (verse 8). Isn’t that kind of transparency before God the first step toward deliverance?

Jonah also filled his prayer with Scripture. He selected phrases from 14 different psalms as well as the words of other prophets (he was probably really trying to make good with God!). Reminding himself of those passages reminded him that God is merciful. God had every right to abandon his wayward prophet, “yet” Jonah said, “I will look again to your holy temple” — the place of atonement and forgiveness (verse 4). Poor old Jonah didn’t know whether he would live or die, but his words reflect his confidence that God had forgiven him.

So often we find ourselves in a dark and dismal place seeing no way out. That is the time to remind ourselves that God is faithful and true and keeps his eye on us no matter where we try to hide ourselves.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.15
Find us on