Prayer in Times of Distress

Prayer in Times of Distress

ocean storm photo
Photo by Graham Cook

I remember learning about the story of Jonah at a very young age. I’m not entirely certain where it came from, but I always had a strange image in my mind for when Jonah prayed to God from the belly of the fish. He’s sitting cross-legged with a small campfire to stay warm and light the darkness.

It’s comical of course. I suppose it came from some silly children’s Bible story book. The reality is much less rosy I’m sure. Imagine if you will, getting swallowed by a giant fish. You’re floating in the water when a giant mouth closes around you. You’re taken down to the belly which probably has all manner of fish in various stages of digestion. It’s hot, smelly, pitch black, and worse.

Jonah recounts the story this way:

For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. Jonah 2:3-6a

Jonah’s outlook was bleak. But he knew that even now, God could save him. Even though he was “driven from God’s sight”, he knew that “yet shall I again look upon your holy temple.” Jonah trusted that God could deliver from even this pit.

… you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.  When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Jonah 2:6-7

What fish bellies are you trapped in today? What pit is so overwhelming that there doesn’t seem to be a way out? Bring it to God, the one who can bring your life up from the pit!

Sermon Audio


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