When we study the book of Jonah, we often focus on the miraculous journey he experienced inside a giant fish: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). Yet the greater story is the transformation we see within Jonah through his model prayer during that underwater voyage.
There is nothing that will bring us closer to the Lord than being in the belly of a fish. When we experience intense suffering, the best thing we can do is to pour out our hearts to God.
Read Jonah 2. Why is Jonah’s prayer an example for us? Because Jonah is praying the Scripture. Many of the words he uses come from the Book of Psalms. Jonah 2:9 says, "But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord.'" Compare this with Psalm 96:1-2: “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.”
Psalm 30:3 also echoes throughout Jonah's prayer as he says, "From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. . . . But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit" (Jonah 2:2, 6). Psalm 30:3 says, “You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.”
If you’re having trouble finding the words, do as Jonah did and rely on the very Word of God to direct your tongue.
Prayer: Father, when I go through times of suffering, help me to turn to You and Your Word. Teach me to pray the Scripture like Jonah did. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief” (Psalm 143:1).
Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!