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“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly …” (Jonah 2:1)

I imagine it was a bright sunny day – blue skies, birds singing, gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. It must have been a beautiful day. At least it was for Jonah.  He might have been slimy and acid-eaten, but at least it wasn’t raining because the whale had spit him out onto dry land. That whale had beached itself just so Jonah wouldn’t get his feet wet. Yeah, it must have been a beautiful day.

The survival of 120,000 people was depending on it. I’m not sure if Jonah actually knew that God would deliver the Assyrians and did not want them to be delivered or if he was just plain scared to death to walk into the midst of this fierce, merciless people and tell them they were going to hell. The point is, he didn’t want to go.

But God did.

Acts of mercy that we perform are generated, not from our own wells of charity, but from the heart of God. He just allows us to participate.

And most often it is prayer that unlocks the door to that mercy. We may be praying for something entirely different – Jonah was certainly not praying for the Ninevites – but the effects of prayer, like the random twists and turns that a stream takes on its way to the sea, can often take circuitous routes to reach God’s intended consequence. We are just required to pray. And prayer moves God.

We may scoff that our little tiny prayers could move continents and drop mountains into the sea, but are we limiting God or ourselves?  James 5:16 says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. While there are conditions for prayer to be effective, there are no limitations.

Everything in your Christian walk distills down into two things: reading and prayer. The Word of God gives us the power to pray, and prayer unties the hands of God to move in ways that we cannot imagine.

Including saving 120,000 people who you never intended to save.

 

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Brother Dale

 

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“And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
(Jonah 2:10)

Comfort is one of the worst enemies of the Church. It detracts from our original commission by refocusing our attention onto ourselves and our own blessings and prosperity. Proverbs says that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. And so it is with the Church.
Passion is learned through hardship, trials and tribulations, and the sufferings of the Cross. There is no Gethsemane experience without blood; no passion without pain; no victory without battle. We were not called to the comfort of the Cross but to the sufferings, so that the great deliverance from sin and Hell would be manifest to the world, for as Jesus said, if he be lifted up, he will draw all men unto him. And He was lifted up on that Cross.
The Greek word that Paul uses again and again in this context is “agonizomai”, which means to struggle, contend, and fight with passion for the victory in the public games where only one contender will win. There is no 2nd place in this contest, no consolation prize, no Purgatory or Limbo to fall back into, no “Ataboy, nice try”. We battle in prayer to win. Failure is fatal.
In the parable of the Unjust Judge, the words used to describe the prayer of the widow is translated in the King James as “her continual coming”. The actual Greek words mean to push forward until a complete and full end is reached. Our grandfathers in the faith called it “praying it through, all the way through”. You prayed, not until you got tired, but until you got an answer.
But in our comfort, our need for that kind of prayer has dissolved. We no longer have the drive and passion that our forefathers had when they fought against all odds to establish the Faith. We don’t fight because we don’t need to. As a result, our churches are anemic, our pastors compromising, and our religion a “kinder, gentler” version of the old fashioned Holy Ghost and fire that our fathers knew.
Jonah knew if he prayed like we do, that he would never get out of that whale’s belly. He also knew that if he would just contend all the way through to grab hold of the Throne of God, that God would answer. He knew that although he was cast out, if his repentance was deep enough and his prayer strong enough, that he would once again look to God’s Temple. His faith was coupled with the passion of desperation.
It was enough to cause the whale to commit suicide just so Jonah wouldn’t get his feet wet.
We have traded our former hunger and desperate prayer for a theological sophistication today that has blinded the Church. We have programs for everything, and books for all sorts of instruction. We know more about human character than ever before, and we have figured out every kind of spiritual program the mind of man can conceive of. We have figured it all out. We have finally arrived.
Leonard Ravenhill once said that the Church has advisors by the carload, but where are the agonizers? Are we so wise and knowledgeable that we no longer have to depend on God?
Our comfort and prosperity has blinded us and led us down a path that leads away from the Cross and straight into the belly of a whale. Perhaps that is what we need so that we can once again look to God’s holy Temple.

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” (Jonah 2:8)

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