Day 22

Jonah’s Prayer

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Jonah 2:1-10, Psalm 88:4-5, Psalm 88:10–12, Hebrews 4:16

BY Missy Fuller

Text: Jonah 2:1-10, Psalm 88:4-5, Psalm 88:10–12, Hebrews 4:16

This is part of a 7-day series on Jonah in the Lent 2016 reading plan. 

The last thing I wanted to do was pray.

Weeks after my college graduation I was diagnosed with depression. It came crashing in like Jonah’s storm, and without much warning I found myself in the pit. Maybe you’ve been there too—in that place you can’t quite explain, marked by sorrow and shame. I had been walking with Jesus for most of my life, but I had lost all hope. I was caught in a tangle of darkness and despair.

A friend encouraged me to press into Jesus. I wondered if I still knew what that meant.

I was so painfully lost in shame and confusion that even the thought of picking up my Bible caused a wave of emotion I couldn’t bear to face. A part of me knew my friend was right: I needed Jesus more than anything, especially in the pit. But the lies were screaming at me so loudly, drowning out my best intentions, even turning my sorrow into physical pain. I just couldn’t drag myself into His presence.

I wonder if Jonah shared in those same feelings of despair. He knew his sin had caused the storm, but I wonder if he thought the fish was how God was going to end his life.

Jonah was in the pit—quite literally in the depths. He was at the bottom of the ocean, inside a beast. Yet Jonah prayed from inside the fish, from the lowest of lows.

But did Jonah want to pray? Did he sit there pouting for two-and-a-half days and then finally admit his mistake, only to be immediately spit out on dry land? Or did he call on the Lord right away, then wait in silence for three days? Did Jonah pray because he felt his own brokenness, or just because that’s what a good Jewish man ought to do?

Whether out of contrition or habit, whether upon entering the pit or on his way out—Jonah called out to the Lord. And then something remarkable happened:

I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me.
-Jonah 2:2 (emphasis mine)

The God who heard Jonah’s cry hears yours and mine—no matter the pit we find ourselves in and no matter how we got there. The God of the incarnation, who took on flesh to rescue His people—that God always comes after us. He uses whatever means necessary to bring us out of the pit, even if that pit is the stomach of a huge fish.

Like the Lord pulled Jonah out of that fish and onto dry land, God pulled me up out of my own pit, one slow inch at a time. In time I was able to turn to Him in prayer. Painful though the process was, my only regret is that I didn’t call out to Him sooner.

Have you ever wondered if the Lord’s hand can reach as far as you’ve fallen?

Read Jonah’s story and have hope. God truly is faithful. He never gives up on us. Whether you’re new to the pit or you’ve been waiting on His deliverance for some time, approach His throne with the confidence that He hears you and will answer you (Hebrews 4:16). The God who left heaven to pursue you and rose from the pit to redeem you has not forgotten you. Thanks be to God.

But You raised my life from the Pit, LORD my God!
-Jonah 2:6

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113 thoughts on "Jonah’s Prayer"

  1. Taylor Conant says:

    Thank you, Misty, for sharing your heart. Too often I hold back from sharing about my own experience with depression out of fear of burdening others. What a beautiful message of hope you’ve given me today. Depression ebbs and flows in my life, but God’s presence sustains me always.

  2. Shannon says:

    This is my first time to ever post a comment, though I do read through them. I’m always amazed that I’m not alone in the ways I think or feel at times.
    I was moved to do this study, never really knowing what lent was about. I grew up in Foursquare churches my whole life.
    To be honest… This is exactly where I am today. Depressed, in the bottom of the pit, ashamed for being here again, not able to bring myself, yet again to the feet of Jesus. Other than reading this study, that’s been the extent of spending time in the word or with God. I feel after years of doing things my way, knowing full well it never works, I run back to God and yes, He’s always been faithful. But now, I feel hopeless. I feel like a joke. Why would, after time & time again, of God showing me His goodness, faithfulness, grace, mercy, & patience EVERYTIME, would He want to go through again! We’ve been here a million times. By now, I certainly should get it! I struggle & I don’t have what it takes today to even pray.
    But reading this tonight assures me, I’m not alone. So thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Beth says:

      Shannon, God is so very faithful! Praying for you!! :)

    2. Cortina says:

      I have gone through those emotions too, not even feeling worthy to walk into church because if anyone really knew what had happened that morning, they wouldn’t/they couldn’t want me there…but it is just not true! I can’t believe those lies, but must take those thoughts captive to the Lord and remind myself that the Bible calls me a co-heir with Christ, holy and without blemish. Saying a prayer for you, for us xoxo

  3. Jonah turns to prayer. The importance and power of prayer is something God has been teaching me since September when War Room came out. Prayer should be my first response, not my last- not even my second. The first thing. Need to cry out to my Savior in the pits and on the mountains. Never want to be loving the gifts more than the Giver! He alone is where joy comes from! So thankful my Jesus keeps me anchored in His purpose, peace, and love.

  4. Jenn says:

    SRT, thanks for researching such a perfect hymn. I learned today that Cowper also dealt with severe bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide. Knowing he went through this and singing the words he penned is pretty powerful. The fountain that we stand under and are washed clean isn’t water…it’s the fountain of blood that poured from “Immanuel’s veins.” Beautiful and humbling.

  5. Alexandra says:

    “I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me.”
-Jonah 2:2 (emphasis mine)

    The God who heard Jonah’s cry hears yours and mine—no matter the pit we find ourselves in and no matter how we got there. The God of the incarnation, who took on flesh to rescue His people—that God always comes after us. He uses whatever means necessary to bring us out of the pit, even if that pit is the stomach of a huge fish”

    For such a time as this! I’m in a pit of despair about job searching. And this is Gods truth! He hears my cries and he will bring me from the pit. I needed to hear this today ❤️

  6. Cait says:

    This really helped me to grow in the understanding of how to approach With Confidence. What an amazing concept. I love how each word of Scripture has such depth and can impart so much to us!

  7. Nicole Wlezien says:

    Two years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety. I had panic attacks, anxiety attacks, crazy outburst of emotion. I had no idea what was going on with myself. I wanted to go back to church but I felt like the one I was raised in suddenly wasn’t my church anymore. I tried to find the one for me and when I did I cried during the first sermon. My parents found out that it wasn’t a Catholic Church but a Christian one. I was told that if I continued to go to that church I wouldn’t be considered part of the family. I am still torn to this day on what to do. I felt whole when I was there. I felt his presence. I felt my anxiety melt away at the door. I feel a pull to go back to that specific church. But I can’t help but weigh the option of losing family over it. I pray every night that I am forgiven for my lack of going to church. It truly eats away at me. I just wished my parents would understand.

    1. Katie B says:

      Hey Nicole! I have never posted any comments on SRT but felt the spirit leading to post a reply to you tonight! I just want you to know that I am praying that you will have wisdom beyond your years. I believe that a large part of following Christ is that we seek HIS approval over man’s and that is something I am working on daily! Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I cannot imagine the decision your having to face right now, but the Lord knows your heart. I pray that He softens your families hearts so that they understand. And above everything, I pray you follow His leading. Much love- Katie

      1. Nicole says:

        Hi Katie, thank you so much for your reply. It touches my heart knowing I have sisters here that will openly pray for me. I cannot thank you enough for your kind words and the joy they give my soul. I downloaded this app to be able to feel closer to God and closer to those who hold the same beliefs that I do. And so far I’ve been so pleased. I truly believe this app has helped me grow closer to God in my own way.

    2. Katie says:

      Nicole this touched my heart this morning. I am praying that your family’s hearts will soften as they see the changes in you brought about by the Lord. Also (on a practical note) have you looked into “attending” a church online similar to the one you felt so welcomed at? NorthPointonline.tv and crosspoint.tv are two that are really wonderful.

      1. Nicole says:

        Hi Katie, thank you for your kind words. I have not looked into an online church but that seems like the perfect solution right now! Thank you again. Xoxoxo

    3. Pam says:

      Katie, I will be praying for you. I encourage you to listen to the messages at Watermark church (www.watermark.org/fort-worth/resources/messages

    4. Celeste says:

      Nicole, I too found myself dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. It started in June and finally on Christmas Eve I found hope again. I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden I felt peace! I admit that everyday I make the choice to seek the Lord in ALL things. I am still haunted by the fear of falling into the pit again but I am given the grace to set my eyes on what brings me joy and I seem to get the strength, my daily bread, to enjoy the gift of the present. I am Catholic and during what I call my “journey back to peace”, the only place I was truly relaxed was in church. There, my heart stopped racing, my mouth was less dry, my mind was at rest. I would stare up at the crucifix and just be. If it wasn’t for my husband and children I probably would have moved in (ha!). As a Catholic I can give you hundreds of ways the church can rescue you…confession, communion, Eucharistic adoration, the rosary… but it won’t matter. You need to find YOUR peace again. God is with us everywhere, Jesus is sitting right beside you and the Holy Spirit is ready to come alive again in you. Seek the Lord, wherever that may be.

  8. Kieu says:

    I think I have fallen into the pit of depression throughout the past couple of months & didnt even realize it til now. My soul have been groaning for Jesus but I’ve been “too tired” or lazy or stressed to be in the word. I wake up everyday & call out His name but I feel like I just can’t rest in Him lately. I’m so glad I read today’s devotional. God is good always & I will continue to praise Him even in this pit. I know He will carry me. Please pray for me. Thanks

    1. Cienna says:

      Hi sister! I feel the same way. Praying for you please pray for me! God will carry us!

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