Big Fish…Big Attitude – Prayers From a Fish Belly

Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish:

“I called out to the Lord in my distress, and he answered me.
        From the belly of the underworld I cried out for help;
        you have heard my voice.
You had cast me into the depths in the heart of the seas,
        and the flood surrounds me.
        All your strong waves and rushing water passed over me.
So I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight.
        Will I ever again look on your holy temple?
Waters have grasped me to the point of death;
        the deep surrounds me.
Seaweed is wrapped around my head
        at the base of the undersea mountains.
I have sunk down to the underworld;
        its bars held me with no end in sight.
        But you brought me out of the pit.’
When my endurance was weakening,
        I remembered the Lord,
        and my prayer came to you,
            to your holy temple.
Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.[d]
But me, I will offer a sacrifice to you with a voice of thanks.
        That which I have promised, I will pay.
            Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”

(Jonah 2:1-9, Common English Bible).

God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah. Instead, he tries to go to Tarshish. The weather turns bad, bad to the point of scaring the crew. Jonah realizes its all his fault and instructs the crew to throw him into the sea. Eventually, they do and the weather clears.

The weather may have cleared but Jonah is still in trouble. Miles from shore, this prophet is just trying to survive in the sea, but you can only tread water for so long before you become tired. When in Scouts and again in the Navy, I learned how to use my clothes as a flotation device. I am not too sure how well that would work with robes.

God still had work to do. And, God would provide grace for Jonah again as Jonah becomes fish bait. God sent a great fish that swallowed Jonah up in a single bite. Now our hero finds himself in the belly of a large fish. He finally decides it is time to pray.

I can’t speak for you. But, as for me, I think I might have started praying while I was still on the boat. “Lord, I know you wanted me to go to Ninevah and instead I ran in the opposite direction. I was wrong for doing that. Lord, I recognize that was a pretty dumb move and you hold all the power and if you wanted you could crush me. But Lord, the boat crew has done nothing wrong and deserve better than this. Please Lord, calm the sea. When we reach Tarshis I will get on another boat and go to Ninevah as you first instructed. Please, Lord. Amen.”

Instead of praying, however, Jonah decides it would be better to take a swim and then be a helping of human stew for a giant fish. It is only after this calamity that Jonah realizes God will win and he begins to pray.

Paul tells us we are to pray without ceasing. Jonah should have prayed before he ran. I am not saying I might not have tried to run too. But maybe, just maybe, had Jonah prayed, he might have avoided calamity he and others suffered at sea.

We must be people of prayer, not just when we are tired of smelling the fish, but all the time, seeking God’s guidance for the things we are supposed to do and for the things we want to do. When we begin with prayer, we can avoid at least some of life’s storms.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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