Jonah Part 3: The Prayer of a Repentant Witness posted by Yuen Woh Voon on Nov 10, 2011
For the next piece of our Jonah series I want to focus in on Chapter Two of the book of Jonah. After spending 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the whale, Jonah, the reluctant evangelist is now a repentant one. Chapter 2 records his prayer of repentance. No doubt Jonah records this private prayer between him and the Lord for our instruction. It has helped reluctant evangelists and, I must say, disobedient believers throughout history to move forward along the path of obedience when they finally come around to God’s way of thinking.
I called to the Lord (v1)
The repentant evangelist firstly returns to his Lord. In his running away from his commission, he had called on anything and everything but the Lord. He called for the ship, he called for the fare and he called for the port of Tarshish (which incidentally is a port in Spain, the other direction!) Now he is looking at the correct direction – upwards. The repentant evangelist must look to his Lord for a fresh commission. In v4, Jonah says, “I will look again toward your holy temple.” We can only do the work of God when we have a heart for God.
I have been banished (v4)
Jonah recognizes that his current adverse circumstances are not accidental. He acknowledges the hand of God in his present uncomfortable situation and he recognizes God’s action to “banish” him, to expel him and to cast him out.
I sank down (v6)
Next, Jonah recognizes the effect of God banishing Him for his disobedience. He has “sank down.” Jonah had “rose up” to flee from the presence of the Lord but after that everything had been going “down.” He went “down” to Joppa, and he went “down” into the ship. Finally he prays, “I sank down!”
I remembered you, LORD, (v7)
Jonah acknowledges the Lord. He calls to God, to get right with Him, and waits to be re-commissioned. He may have sank down but now he prays, “my prayer rose to your holy temple.” He now recognises that “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs (v8). He had clung to the idol of self, of selfish ambitions and had fled God’s presence and call on him. Accordingly, the grace of God, that power that God gives to all to do His will, had been forfeited. He no longer had that spiritual energy that would make him strong enough to stand the pressures of life. Not only does he remember the Lord, he also remembers His grace.
I will sacrifice to you. (v9)
Jonah now begins to produce the fruit in keeping with repentance. He will move towards reinstating his relationship with the Lord, to worship and to sacrifice to Him. He will make plans to go to Nineveh and to preach to its citizens. He will make that sacrifice.
I will make good my vow. (v9)
He reassures the Lord that this time, he will come good. There will be no more going down to Joppa, no more going down into the ship, no more of sailing to Tarshish. Why? Because salvation comes from the Lord and not from anywhere else. Only God can save Jonah, only God can save the Ninevites.
When was the last time you shared your faith?