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

Post Comments (113)

113 thoughts on "Jonah’s Prayer"

  1. Fran says:

    Often the pit of our lives become a dwelling place. Our situations seem to embody our spirits. Let us not lose the faith or hope, but cry out to God. How thankful I am on knowing He is there and He will answer. There’s no pit too deep that can’t pluck us out of.

  2. Ashley says:

    Thanks SRT and Missy for this post. I’m late but I’m also apparently right on time–I just started taking medicine for my depression this morning, so this feels particularly relevant today. I’ve dealt with depression since I was 13 years old. I’m 26. I can remember not wanting to go to middle school because I felt so alone there. Anyway, I’m refreshed to read that God answers prayers, even the same prayers I’ve been praying since I was young. He will answer and He will bring me out of the depths even though the depths feel way too deep to hear Him or feel His presence. To Him be the glory.

    1. God’s timing is always perfect :) sending you my love and prayers.

  3. Faith says:

    This is truelly powerful,I myself find myself in a pit this morning. I didnt have hope or believe that the Lord can rescue or save me. Now i am reading this…on my way to work…In a taxi full of people but i can barely keep the tears off my eyes. I am amazed at how much the Lord truely and truely love us. I mean i say it all the time but how much understanding do i really and honestly give to the statement?!. Im in awe of The Lord this morning,A friend shared this with me and it couldnt have come in the right time. Thank you *tear*

  4. Taylor Conant says:

    *Missy (darn autocorrect!)

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