Journey Through The Scriptures

Jonah: God’s Reluctant Prophet

Lesson 3: Praying from Inside the Fish

(Scripture to Read: Jonah 1:11 – 17)

One of the ironies of Jonah’s story is that he only “saw the light” after he was plunged into utter darkness. It is impossible to imagine what it was like for Jonah to be imprisoned in the stomach of a huge fish. He described it as being in “the depths of the grave” (v. 2).

But it was there Jonah came to his senses and realized God had been merciful to spare his life. Jonah spoke of his near-death experience in a prayer that is truly a hymn of thanksgiving to God. Jonah praised God for delivering him from death, and described how his heart turned toward the Lord as the reality of his desperate situation sank in.

Perhaps the most important part of Jonah’s prayer is his vow to “make good” (v. 9) on this second chance God had given the prophet to obey his calling. Jonah’s prayer also reveals his understanding of Scripture, for the structure of his prayer is modeled after many of the Bible’s psalms and songs. Now humble and repentant, Jonah was ready to go to Nineveh. The fish then obeyed God and spit Jonah out onto the dry land.


Study Questions

  1. Why do you think Jonah believed he deserved to die?
  2. What message of encouragement do we find in verse 4 of Jonah’s prayer?
  3. What does verse 7 tell us about the seriousness of Jonah’s condition inside the fish?
  4. Jonah made a vow to obey God. Read Ecclesiastes 5:4–5 and describe how seriously God takes our vows to Him.

Something to Think About

We have seen that Jonah tried to flee from his calling to deliver God’s message to Nineveh. All of us have a calling to fulfill. The first step is to understand that God has His hand on our lives, and once we realize this, we must be diligent in carrying out our responsibilities to God, our family, our job, and our community.