Saturday, October 13, 2018

I cried unto the Lord and He heard me

artwork by Krista Hamrick


Krista Hamrick’s  beautiful artwork inspired me to do a study based on Jonah 2:2:

KJV: “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”

ICB: “I was in danger. So I called to the Lord, and he answered me. I was about to die. So I cried to you, and you heard my voice.”

TLB: “In my great trouble I cried to the Lord and he answered me; from the depths of death I called, and Lord, you heard me!”

MSG: Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry.”

NCV: “When I was in danger, I called to the Lord, and he answered me. I was about to die, so I cried to you, and you heard my voice.”

NIV: He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon writes: “What a strange place for prayer! Surely this is the only prayer that ever went up to God out of a fish’s belly. Jonah found himself alive—that was the surprising thing, that he was alive in the belly of a fish—and because he was alive, he began to pray. It is such a wonder that some people here should continue to live that they ought to begin to pray. If you live with death so near, and in so great peril, and yet you do not pray, what is to become of you? This prayer of Jonah is very remarkable because it is not a prayer at all in the sense in which we usually apply the word to petition and supplication. If you read the prayer through, you will see that it is almost all thanksgiving; and the best prayer in all the world is a prayer that is full of thankfulness. We praise the Lord for what he has done for us, and thus we do, in effect, ask him to perfect the work which he has begun. He has delivered us, so we bless his holy name, and by implication we beseech him still to deliver us. Notice that it says here, “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God.” He was a runaway; he had tried to escape from the presence of God; yet the Lord was still his God. God will not lose any of his people, even if, like Jonah, they are in the belly of a fish, Jehovah is still their God: “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly.” You see that this is not praying, it is telling the Lord what he had done for his disobedient servant. Jonah had prayed, and the Lord had heard him, yet he was still in the fish’s belly. Unbelief would have said, “You have lived so long; Jonah; but you cannot expect to live to get out of this dreary, damp, prison.” Ah, but faith is out of prison even while she is in it. Faith begins to tell what God has done before the great work is actually accomplished; so Jonah said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; Jonah 2:2, Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” God has only to speak, and even sea-monsters obey him. I know not how he spoke to the fish; I do not know how to talk to a fish, but God does; and as the Lord could speak to that fish, he can speak to any sinner. However far you may have gone from all that is good, he who spoke to that great fish, and made it disgorge the prophet Jonah, can speak to you, and then you will give up your sins as the whale gave up Jonah. God grant that it may be so!”

Pastor John MacArthur writes: “Jonah prayed an exemplary prayer from the most unnatural and unimaginable of settings—the belly of a fish. If you can picture the wet, suffocating darkness and discomfort of such a place, you might begin to have an idea of how desperate Jonah’s situation was at that moment. The whole second chapter of Jonah is devoted to the record of his prayer, and the entire prayer is a profound expression of worship. It reads like a psalm. In fact, it’s full of references and allusions to the Psalms—almost as if Jonah were singing His worship in phrases borrowed from Israel’s psalter while he languished inside that living tomb. The prayer is as passionate as you might expect from someone trapped inside a fish under the surface of the Mediterranean. Jonah begins: “I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me” (Jonah 2:2)—not a plea to God for help, but an expression of praise and deliverance, mentioning God in the third person and speaking of deliverance as if it were an accomplished fact. The focus of Jonah’s prayer—like all great prayers—was the glory of God. Although no one, perhaps, has ever been in a situation where it would be appropriate to plead and beg God to answer more than Jonah was, there was none of that in his prayer. Jonah wasn’t under any illusion that his words could alter the reality of his plight. He was simply extolling the character of God. And that is precisely what our Lord was teaching when He gave the disciples that model prayer in Luke 11. It ought to be clear that when Jesus taught His disciples to regard prayer as worship, that wasn’t anything novel. The great prayers we read in the Old Testament were likewise expressions of worship—including those that were prayed in the most desperate situations. The parallelism between prayer and worship is no coincidence. Prayer is the distilled essence of worship. How much more, then, do you and I need to reevaluate our own priorities in prayer? Rather than paying momentary lip service to God before we get to our list of requests, we need to constantly examine our hearts in prayerful worship before the Lord, making sure we’re holding to the pattern Christ provided. Successful prayer isn’t about getting what you want from God. It’s about bending your will to His, recognizing His supremacy, and reflecting on His glory. It’s an act of worship—one that knits your heart and mind to the Lord in consistent communion with Him.”

Successful prayer isn’t about getting what you want from God. It’s about bending your will to His, recognizing His supremacy, and reflecting on His glory. It’s an act of worship—one that knits your heart and mind to the Lord in consistent communion with Him.

Pastor James H. McConkey writes: “Like Jonah in the belly of the great fish, we must turn to the Lord when our soul is fainting within us, trusting Him completely. What can you do when you are about to faint physically? You can’t DO anything! In your weakness you just fall upon the shoulders of some strong loved one, lean hard, and rest until your strength returns. The same is true when you are tempted to faint under adversity. The Lord’s message to us is ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). Hudson Taylor was so feeble in the closing months of his life that he said to a dear friend, ‘I’m so weak that I can’t work or read my Bible, and I can hardly pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust.’ And that is all the Heavenly Father asks of you when you grow weary in the fierce fires of affliction.”

Pastor H.A. Ironside writes: “In his affliction Jonah cries to Him from whom he had been seeking to hide. Divine life, like water, seeks its proper level, or sphere. Because, whatever his failings, Jonah is a child of God still, he turns instinctively to the very One he had been grieving, in the hour that he is brought to realize that he is the subject of divine discipline. A man is a long way on the road to recovery when he is ready to own the righteousness of his chastening, and when he sees that he is under the hand of God. Having already acknowledged to the mariners that such is the case, he now cries to Him who hears him even “out of the belly of hell.”

Have you ever prayed a prayer
from an emergency room? Have you cried out from a broken relationship or a business failure? If so, you might identify with Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish. Instead of obeying God and warning the people of Ninevah of impending destruction, Jonah had tried to run from the Lord. But God was with Jonah when the crew threw him overboard. He was with Jonah in the belly of the fish he had prepared to swallow him. He was with him in his trouble and that trouble awakened Jonah to repentance and his need of God. Beneath the waves he lost all hope. But when he cried out in desperation and despair, God heard him and rescued him. There is no place where the Lord cannot hear and respond to us—no pit too deep, no trouble too terrible, no situation too difficult for God. When we cry out to him from whatever “belly” we find ourselves in, he will answer.

Heavenly Father, how I thank You that in the deepest trouble when I cry out to You, You hear and answer me just as You did Jonah. I am glad that there is no place so dark or situation so hopeless that you cannot bring deliverance. I will offer sacrifices to You with songs of praise, for my salvation comes from You alone! I give you all my fears today and look to You for help. Do a deep work in my heart concerning those things that strike fear in me. I know that Your perfect love will cast out all my fears. Thank You for Your promise to answer me when I call to You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on
Jonah 2:2 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In—as you meditate on
Jonah 2:2 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on
Jonah 2:2 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


 * If you liked this post, you’ll love this bookName Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ



30 comments:

  1. Beth, I totally agree with you in this:
    Successful prayer isn’t about getting what you want from God. It’s about bending your will to His, recognizing His supremacy, and reflecting on His glory. It’s an act of worship—one that knits your heart and mind to the Lord in consistent communion with Him.

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    1. Mary, thank you so much for stopping by. You have always been such a wonderful encourager to me and so many others. Many blessings to you and your sweet family ❤️

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  2. Yes, no place where we go that we cannot call out to God. He's always with us. Blessings to you, Beth! I'm your neighbor at the #BVNetworkParty.

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    1. Amen, Gayl, that is one of the most comforting promises we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. I often reflect on the question, “What would a girl just like you do, in a situation just like the one you are in, if she was absolutely certain God was with her?” It is so true—His name is Emmanuel, God with us—He will never leave us or forsake us. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  3. What a great perspective this gives on prayer!

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    1. Elizabeth, thanks so much for stopping by! Many blessings to you ❤️

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  4. I'm loving this bible journaling that incorporates drawing as well as writing. I've seen some truly beautiful work and I think it would suit my daughter well.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. Many blessings to you!

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  5. Oh, how thankful I am that no matter what situation we find ourselves in or how unlikely of a place it is to pray, God can hear us from any distance. He is a faithful God who is a very present help in every moment of need. So thankful for you, sweet friend, and for your faithfulness to God's call on your life. Sending love and hugs your way!

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    1. Thank you, Cheryl. It is such a joy for me to share with others what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has used to encourage me. Many blessings to you, dear friend!

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  6. Such truth here, Beth! "There is no place where the Lord cannot hear and respond to us—no pit too deep, no trouble too terrible, no situation too difficult for God." Our ever-present and all-knowing God knows exactly where we are and longs to hear our prayers. Thank you for sharing! I was your neighbor at #RechargeWednesday Linkup today. Blessings!

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    1. Patricia, Amen! Thanks so much for stopping by. Many blessings to you!

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  7. I've thought about this, and believe Jonah had to have died at some point, and God raised him enough for him to pray because Jesus used it as an example about Himself as a sign. Surely he would have drowned during a storm but the fish swallowed him, or else it was right at the surface, it is something to think about.

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    1. Rebecca, that's such an interesting idea! Pastor Allen Ross writes regarding this: "A sign would be given to them later, albeit a confirming sign. Jesus was telling them that they would have one more opportunity to be convinced--the sign of His resurrection would prove who He is and what His death was all about. They had rejected every other sign that Jesus had given them, so there was one more, but they would have to wait for it. This was the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so the Messiah would be in the grave three days and three nights before rising from the dead (Jonah was not dead, but was as good as dead if God had not intervened). This sign--the death and resurrection--would confirm that Jesus indeed is the Messiah, the Son of God. That is truly a miraculous sign. However, it would come later for these opponents of Jesus, for they were the ones who were plotting to kill Him. And they would succeed (they would think) in their opposition to Jesus by seeing Him crucified. Thus, the “sign” that they wanted would come from their own crime against Him. They would be guilty of His death. But it was an opportunity that would come later; they might then believe." I think just the fact that Jesus mentioned Jonah is such great confirmation that everything did occur just as the Bible says it did. We trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for our next breath, our next heartbeat, and our eternal salvation--we can trust everything He says about Jonah, too! Thanks so much for stopping by. Many blessings to you!

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  8. I agree praying is not about getting what we want. Prayer always changes my heart. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Christian Link-Up. Blessings, Maree

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    1. Mare, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your personal comments. Prayer changes my heart, too, knitting my heart to Jesus, experiencing His Peace and enjoying His Presence. Many blessings to you

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  9. Dank je wel voor deze mooie devotie / / Thank you so much for your devotion about Jonah. I love to read psalm 130. C. H. Spurgeon writes: "In this Psalm we hear about the pearl of salvation; verses 7 and 8. The singer might never have found that precious jewel if he had not been thrown into the deep. "Pearls are in the depth". Love that.

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    1. Aritha, thank you so much for stopping by! Your sweet comments sent me searching for more of what C.H. Spurgeon had to say about Psalm 130...here’s more of what he writes, it goes so well with Jonah...”Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. This is the Psalmist's statement and plea: he had never ceased to pray even when brought into the lowest state. The depths usually silence all they engulf, but they could not close the mouth of this servant of the Lord; on the contrary, it was in the abyss itself that he cried unto Jehovah. Beneath the floods prayer lived and struggled; yea, above the roar of the billows rose the cry of faith. It little matters where we are if we can pray; but prayer is never more real and acceptable than when it rises out of the worst places. Deep places beget deep devotion. Depths of earnestness are stirred by depths of tribulation. Diamonds sparkle most amid the darkness. Prayer de profundis gives to God gloria in excelsis. The more distressed we are, the more excellent is the faith which trusts bravely in the Lord, and therefore appeals to him, and to him alone. Good men may be in the depths of temporal and spiritual trouble; but good men in such cases look only to their God, and they stir themselves up to be more instant and earnest in prayer than at other times. The depth of their distress moves the depths of their being; and from the bottom of their hearts an exceeding great and bitter cry rises unto the one living and true God.”
      Many blessings to you ❤️

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  10. I love everything about this - "Successful prayer isn’t about getting what you want from God. It’s about bending your will to His, recognizing His supremacy, and reflecting on His glory. It’s an act of worship—one that knits your heart and mind to the Lord in consistent communion with Him."

    Thank you for sharing with us at #LiveLifeWell.

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    1. Jessica, thank you so much for stopping by. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  11. I can see why the beautiful artwork would prompt you to do a study on Jonah. I am so very grateful that when I cry out to God, He hears me :) Blessings

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    1. Debbie, amen! I so agree with you! What a blessing that when we cry out to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He hears us, He fills us with His Holy Spirit, and we experience His Peace and His Presence...He is with us, His name is Emmanuel—God with us, He will never leave us or forsake us. What a Savior! Many blessings to you ❤️

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  12. The artwork is certainly beautiful! I'm not much of a prayer person so I can't speak to that but am familiar with the Jonah story. I do believe that no matter where you are, you can still talk to God - if you truly want to. #mixitup

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    1. Michelle, thanks so much for stopping by. I so agree with you! Many blessings to you ❤️

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  13. Thank you for being on the #DreamTeam

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kirsty. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  14. Prayer is an act of worship. I love how Jonah, in the depths of the belly of the whale, cried out to God and worshipped inspite of the situation. Beautiful words!

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    1. Mary, I so agree with you! Oh, that in the midst of our own "belly of the whale" experiences, we would cry out and worship our Lord too! Many blessings to you!

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  15. Hi, thanks for being so faithful to share with us on the #LMMLinkup. I am so grateful that the Lord hears me to when I cry out for Him.

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    1. Amen, Mary. We are so grateful that our Lord Jesus Christ is Emmanuel--God with us--even in our "belly of the whale" experiences. He will never leave us or forsake us. Many blessings to you!

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