When Our Prayers Get Honest! (Part 2)

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me.” (Jonah 2:2 NLT)

The story of Jonah is interesting on many levels, not the least being his prayer from within the belly of the large fish the Lord sent to rescue him from the ocean. Just to catch you up, in case you’re not familiar with Jonah’s story, the Lord had given him instructions: “to go the great city of Nineveh. Announce My judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

So, what did God’s faithful servant do? “But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.” And apparently, Jonah’s conscience was perfectly good with the whole “run away from God plan,” because the Bible says that he bought a ticket on a boat leaving for Tarshish, then immediately found a quiet spot in the hold of the ship and went into a deep sleep.

The ship’s captain finally went to wake him when they’d encountered a violent storm that was threatening to sink the ship. The captain said to Jonah: “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” There’s no indication that Jonah prayed, but the sailors cast lots, and determined that he was the reason for the storm.

One thing led to another and finally, at Jonah’s request, the sailors tossed him overboard and immediately the storm stopped. What was he thinking? Even the pagan sailors recognized that Jonah’s God had sent the storm, and after the sea was calm, the Bible says: “they were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.”

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

An impressive “mission’s trip,” for Jonah, but what was he thinking to have them throw him overboard? Did he prefer death to obedience? At that point only God knew what was going to happen, but even in the belly of the “great fish,” Jonah wasn’t honest with the Lord. Listen to his prayer: “You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.” Whoa! Wait a minute. Surely the Lord knew Jonah was going to have the sailors throw him overboard, but who’s idea was that? There’s no indication in the text to indicate that the Lord asked Jonah to do that.

Then in the next verse Jonah says: “The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath Your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O Lord, You have driven me from Your presence.’” Come on, Jonah, give me a break! That was all you, buddy. God told you to go to Nineveh and you hightailed it to Tarshish. Finally, that little “fish ride” through the sea brought Jonah to his senses, and he ultimately did what the Lord asked him to do, but even after the Lord brought revival to Nineveh, Jonah was mad about it.

Okay, so what’s my point? Implicit in all of Jonah’s adventures, at least two things give us insight into the heart of God. First, God has plans that He will accomplish in and through us whether we’re honest with ourselves or not. Through it all, as much of a rascal as Jonah was, he was still God’s prophet, and he, in the end, did what God called him to do.

And the second thing, that gives me great hope as I continue to learn to pray, is God’s amazing heart for lost people. We may not always know or even think about how the Lord desires to use us to reach our lost loved ones and friends, but He is always engineering circumstances in each of our lives to put us in the right place at the right time to speak words of life to those in our spheres of influence who are walking in darkness.

Here’s my takeaway as it relates to getting honest when we pray. Trust God! At least Jonah was honest about one thing: he knew the compassionate God he served would do whatever it took to get His word to the lost city of Nineveh.

That’s His heart for the lost people of my city and yours, but more specifically, the lost people in reach of your influence. If you want to “run” from that assignment, I get it, but more to the point, God gets it. And He will sometimes use you in spite or your rebellion. Just be honest enough to say: “Lord, as scared as I am, use me to Your honor and fame. Help me to be all You desire me to be, say, and do to reach those You love with whom I can share Your loving message.”

Blessings, Ed 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: