“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But 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.’ ” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
I was praying completely out of anger. I kept reminding God of all the things He promised and of all the ways I had not seen those promises fulfilled. My honest assessment of that prayer is that I was attempting to take God to task. I was telling him what He had to do for me and how He had not been doing that. I thought I was speaking truth, but what I was doing was confessing that my God had been unfaithful. I had the audacity to tell him that He needed to get his act together and answer my simple prayers. This was not a prayer in faith from someone who believes he will receive. This was the prayer of someone who had decided that his good Father was no longer good and now had to prove himself.
Jonah starts off his recorded journey pretty unhappily. The first we hear of him is that God has called him to speak words of judgment to an evil people. Jonah declines the offer and runs in the opposite direction. He is fighting a losing battle because we cannot hide from God, and it takes a rather extreme sequence of events to bring Jonah to this prayer. He tried to escape on a ship only for God to bring a storm which threatened to destroy that vessel. To save the ship, the others threw Jonah overboard, and he was swallowed by a giant fish. He spent three days inside that fish thinking and probably brooding and crying and going through a whole host of emotions. It was in that belly that he prayed for salvation from a place of faith out of remembrance of God’s faithfulness to answer him.
I am sure we all have made the mistake of starting a prayer from a place of doubt. That doubt can come from prior unanswered prayers or a general misunderstanding of God and how He works. It is quite the oxymoron for us to pray from a place of doubt as prayer is all about faith. We would be foolish to make a request of anyone if we truly believe that request will go unheard or unanswered. The truth is that every person who is a child of God, saved and justified, has proof of his faithfulness already. That is the place from which our prayers should come. The one who has saved our souls surely is faithful, and our salvation is only the beginning of that faithfulness. Father, remind us of your unquestionable faithfulness that we would come to You in prayer only with faith and expectation.