ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Today’s lesson was entitled, RESCUED FROM DANGER. The Scripture was from Jonah 2:1-10. The KEY VERSE was verse 9 which reads, “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’”. (NIV)
We learned in last week’s lesson how Jonah had been the “Reluctant Prophet”. He’d been reluctant to obey God’s command that he go to Nineveh and preach to the people there. In fact, he’d been more than a little reluctant, he’d actually tried to run and hide from God. Imagine that. We’re not prophets but even we know that with God, resistance is futile. You can run but you cannot hide.
Now, through a set of very unfortunate circumstances, Jonah finds himself in the belly of a huge fish. God has prepared this fish for Jonah’s habitation. There is room for Jonah to be comfortable and air for Jonah to breathe within the confines of the fish. However, prior to being swallowed up by the fish, he was sinking helplessly to the bottom of the sea. He was drowning. Jonah was in deep, deep, deep, trouble. Jonah began to pray feverishly. In that aspect, Jonah was a lot like us. We do our best praying when we are in trouble; the deeper the trouble we’re in the harder we pray!
Listen to Jonah’s vividly terrifying account of his harrowing experience:
“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave! With great ocean waves crashing over me I cried, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out of your sight like a castaway. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ The mighty ocean gripped me by the throat, choking the life from me. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held me so tightly that I could not breath. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as down can get and the gates of life were slamming shut behind me forever. Yet, you snatched me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God.”
[WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL WE ARE UP TO OUR NECKS IN TROUBLE BEFORE WE PRAY TO GOD IN EARNEST?]
Jonah continues his discourse, “And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.
Paul says, in 1 Thessalonians, verse 17, “Pray without ceasing (KJV)”. This means that we should not wait until we are in trouble to pray. Prayer should be constant, never-ending.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (KJV).”
Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 6, verse 18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (KJV).”
DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE