Salvation is from the Lord: Jonah’s Prayer

Originally published in Disciple Magazine, February 2014. Part 3 of 5

When we left Jonah, he was sinking down into the sea, having convinced the crew of his ship to throw him overboard to calm the storm God had brought upon them because of his disobedience. He likely thought that this would be the end of the matter, but “the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah” (1:17a). Instead of meeting death, “Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17b).

The first we hear from Jonah in this unique (and probably uniquely unpleasant) place, is the last thing we expect, given his attitude and actions in chapter 1—a prayer: “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish” (2:1). In Jonah’s telling of these events, he doesn’t mention if he pouted, wept, slept, or anything else after finding himself alive and well inside the fish. We don’t know if his prayer was at the beginning or the end of his three days and nights “at sea”—what the Lord compelled him to record for us was that he prayed. He did not yet know the rest of the story, whether he would be rescued or whether he would yet die in the fish, but he prayed anyway.

It takes varying degrees of shock for most of us to recognize our helplessness and cry out to God, and for Jonah, the Lord used extraordinary measures indeed to get his attention. From this low point, however, we have an incredible prayer ascribing power and glory to God and foreshadowing the salvation He would bring to all men through Christ. Continue reading