you may know Jonah from when you were a kid learning about Jonah from kids books or even from lessons when you’re in Sunday school or learning about Jonah from clips like the one we just saw I remember when I was growing up I would often feel sorry for Jonah because he had to be in the stomach of a giant whale but since then I’ve learned that the Bible says that God prepared a fish to swallow Jonah and I don’t feel sorry for him now because he was in the belly of the fish because that’s really gross I don’t feel sorry for him about that I feel sorry for him for why he had to be in the fish in the first place but we’ll get to that in a moment to understand Jonah’s prayer which we are looking at today Jonah’s prayer can be found in chapter 2 of Jonah but to understand his prayer we need to go back through and look at the whole book of Jonah so I do want to I guess challenge and encourage you this week to try and read the Book of Jonah it’s a fairly short book it’s only four chapters long and we are going to be going through them today but I really want to encourage you just to read it so that you can understand Jonah and where he was at and how we relate to Jonah so it’s it’s one of the Old Testament books it’s towards the end of the Old Testament with the minor prophets and so it’s it’s a very short book you might even be able to read it through in one sitting so we have that we did have a bit of a recap on the Book of Jonah from the clip we just watched from Saddleback kids but I do just want to add a few things to give us a bit more background on Jonah and who he is and what is actually going on in in the Book of Jonah in his life so keep in mind we will be going through this fairly quickly because if it’s still a book of the Bible sorry I do again want to encourage you to read the Book of Jonah for yourself but Jonah was a Hebrew prophet which basically means he was one of the people that God would send to tell people about what he was doing so here in Jonah chapter 1 we find God call Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh so in verse 2 he says get up and go to the great city of Nineveh announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people off so the people of Nineveh just a little bit of background there is they were enemies of the Hebrew people of the Israelites they did not get along well so God was basically telling Jonah to go to his enemies and tell them announce God’s judgment upon Israel’s enemies but as we saw in that clip that we watched Jonas said no and went the complete opposite direction he boards a ship for Tarshish and gets comfortable and falls asleep so as we go throughout the Book of Jonah today I’m just going to pull out a few different points and look at how they relate to us in our lives but also how they impact his prayer and our prayers as well so the first thing that we see is God called Jonah and Jonah ran in the opposite direction sometimes in life God calls us to do something that might seem a little bit crazy or something big something scary something odd Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh we read a bit later that Jonah knew about God Jonah knew that God loves people and so he didn’t want to go and say something that God told him to say and then see God do the opposite which we will talk about a bit more but maybe for some of you listening today God has called you to do something but you haven’t done anything about it maybe you’re walking or running in the opposite direction because the call that God has given you might make you look a bit silly or it might seem a bit ridiculous God might be sending you to talk to some of your enemies just like he was sending Jonah well either way

Jonah said no and tried to get as far away from Nineveh as far away from his call as he possibly could as far away from God as he possibly could Tosh’s was considered to be one of the farthest places it’s kind of like the end of the earth if you’re trying to get away from someone and if you’re trying to get away from God it seemed like a great place to go but God doesn’t just stop there God does something about this God got Jonah’s attention so from from the clip that we saw we know that God sent a storm but God also sent a group of people to throw down our overboard and God sent the giant fish these three parts played a key aspect in getting Jonah’s attention this storm was a crazy big storm that absolutely terrified the sailors they ended up praying to their gods and they were wondering why this was happening so we read in Jonah chapter 1 verses 7 to 12 then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused this terrible storm when they did this the lots identified Jonah as a culprit why is this awful storm come down on us they demanded are you what is your line of work what country are you from what is your nationality Jana Ann said I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord the God of heaven who made the sea and the land well the sailors were terrified when they heard this so he had already told them he was running away from the Lord why did you do it they groaned and since the storm was getting worse all the time they asked him what should we do to you to stop the storm throw me into the sea Jonah said and it will become calm again I know that this terrible storm is all my fault sometimes we might head in a different direction to the one that God is calling us to and sometimes God does things to get our attention God may send some kind of tragedy kind of like the storm that he sent for Jonah to go get our attention God may send some people to remind us that we’re not living the way that he is calling us to live he might send us a situation where we are given the opportunity to sit and spend time in on reflection and in prayer just as Jonah was given that opportunity when he ended up in the belly of the fish this is not to say that every time something bad happens in our life it’s God trying to get our attention because we’re heading the wrong direction because we’ve sinned or because something’s we’ve stuffed up or something that’s not saying that but sometimes in our life God does use things to get our attention to pull us back to him to remind us of the call that he has given us for Jonah it took some drastic measures to get his attention a storm a massive storm that looks like it was going to just destroy the boat and everyone on it Jonah knew that God was getting his attention and he thought that God was punishing him by sending the storm he thought that this storm would kill him as we will read in chapter 2 and so the sailors they throw Jonah overboard but first they prayed to the Lord and they asked that they would not be responsible for his death so in verse 15 of chapter one it says then the sailors picked up Jonah and threw him into the raging sea and the storm stopped at once the sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him so the

sailors who didn’t really wood didn’t follow God the Lord our God saw how mighty he was in this act of throwing Jonah overboard and then seeing the Seas calm and they committed they vowed to serve God so now Jonah is overboard and he’s probably drowning and he’s sinking in the sea and this is where we see what happens next Jonah prays it’s a God so we see God hood finally got Jonah’s attention in that very dramatic way and I just feel like this next part of Jonah is very human story not was a human just like you and I and we see what he does in Jonah chapter 2 he prays to God so we’re gonna be reading all of Jonah chapter 2 starting at verse 1 it says then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish he said I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble and he answered me I called to you from the land of the dead and Lord you heard me you threw me into the ocean depths and I sank down to the heart of the sea the mighty waters engulfed me I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves then I said Lord you have driven me from your presence yet I will look once more toward your holy temple I sank beneath the waves and the waters closed over me seaweed wrapped itself around my head I sank down to the very roots of the mountains I was imprisoned in the earth whose gates locked shut forever but you O Lord my God snatched me from the jaws of death as my life was slipping away I remembered the Lord and my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy temple those who worshipped false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies but I will offer sacrifice to you sacrifices to you with songs of praise and I will fulfill my vows for my salvation comes from the Lord alone then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach so in Jonah chapter 2 Jonah talks about his experience in the raging sea we see how he talks of how he was at the point of death and I can imagine that he really did nearly drown he talks about how he sank down deep how he was covered by the depths how he had seaweed wrapped over him and that as his life was slipping away he cried out to God and God heard him we see Jonah feel he was almost at the place he was trying to run to he was almost as far away from God’s presence as he could be and when he got to that point he turned back to God and asked God to save him we see Jenna say how he will offer sacrifices to God with songs of praise and how he will fulfill his vows he knows that it really is only God who can save him that it is God alone who gives him salvation he knows that it is God alone who kept him alive in the belly of this fish Jonah here acknowledges what the psalmist’s knew that it is impossible to run from God’s presence Psalm 139 verses 7 to 12 say I can never escape from your spirit I can never get away from your presence if I go up to heaven you are there if I go down to the grave you are there if I ride the wings of the morning if I do well by the farthest oceans even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me I could ask the

darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you to use the night shines as bright as day and darkness and light are the same to you China could not escape God’s presence even when he was down to the grave dwelling in the depths of the ocean he could not escape God’s Spirit he could not get away from his presence there may be times in our life when we feel distant from God maybe we thought we wanted to be in that place that was far from God maybe it was kind of a slow fade and we didn’t mean to end up that far away but may we find comfort in the truth that we really can never run so far from God that he can’t save us we can never be so far that he can’t hear us when we call out to him when we call on him was an earnest heart and an earnest prayer when we are in those situations or in those places we can feel like we are just so far from God we can feel like we’re in the belly of a fish that we’re heading in a different direction to our call may we always remember that all we need to do is call and ask God to save us just as Jonah did see even though Jonah was running it from God when Jonah cried out to God God had heard him God still answered his prayer and saved him and then God gave Jonah this time to sit to reflect these three days in the whale it’s time for him to stop and time for him to pray sometimes God gives us that opportunity to have that time with him now as we returned we were able to return to the one that we ran from we were able to completely turn back to God Jonah chapter 2 says after this time God sent the whale to spit turnaround on the beach and then the next thing happens Jonah obeys God’s call and so we read this in Jonah chapter 3 verses 1 to 5 then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and deliver the message I have given you this time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh a city so large that it took three days to see it all on the day Jonah entered the city he shouted to the crowds forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed the people of Nineveh believed God’s message and from the greatest to the least they declared a fast and put on her lap to show their sorrow so after all that Jonah went through after Jonah ran away from God after Jonah was thrown into the sea after he was in the belly of the fish and spent that time in prayer Jonah obeys God and he goes and tells the people of Nineveh what God wanted him to tell them in the first place so Jonah does what God called him to do and he literally just goes and says this is really basic sermon saying that forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed and it says that changes people’s lives the people of nineveh listened to what Jonah had to say and they turned from their wicked ways and in Jonah chapter three verse 10 we read when God saw what they had done

the people of Nineveh and how they had put a stop to their evil ways he changed his mind and he did not carry out the destruction he had threatened see God is faithful and we’ve looked at over the past few weeks how God’s heart is for all people to know him he wants all people to turn to him God sees repentant hearts and so God saw the people of Nineveh he saw that they were humbling themselves and fasting and prayer putting on their burlap they he saw that they did not want to be living the ways that they had been he saw their change of heart and change of life and he sees that in us today as well he saw the people of Nineveh Siberians and heard their prayers just as he heard Jonah’s prayer but the thing is Jonah saw their change of heart – and Jonah saw God’s heart and in Jonah chapter 4 starting in verse 1 it says this change of plans greatly upset Jonah and he became very angry so he complained to the Lord about it didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this Lord that is why I ran away to Tarshish I knew that you are merciful and compassionate God slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love you are eager to turn back from destroying people just tell me now Lord I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen have we ever had similar thoughts to what Jonah thought about the people of Nineveh see while Jonah did obey God in the end and through his words a whole city was saved his heart was still not in it I’m inclined to think that Jonah obeyed God out of obligation he’d just been through that crazy situation he’d just been in a stinky fish belly no way would he want to go through that again some would say that in Jonah’s prayer that we read in chapter 2 that Jonah really did repent and that he prayed a prayer of confession and confessed his sin and turned to God but as we read his prayers we read his parent chapter 2 and see his heart in chapter 4 I’m inclined to see that he didn’t repent of his sins he was super thankful that God saved his life and he did obey God but his heart was so bitter he missed the joy of obeying God because his heart was all about himself and he was more concerned with what he looks like then than the lives of other people a few weeks ago we read a real prayer of repentance and confession from Daniel remember Daniel was a righteous man Daniel prayed to God three times a day Daniel did not compromise anything of his character by what was going on around him even when he was threatened with death Daniel committed to God Daniel continued to pray to God because Daniel was so faithful and so in Daniel as we read chapter 9 a few weeks ago we see this righteous man praying and saying that he had sinned and that he he was confessing his sin and the sins of his people declaring that they had sinned against God and that they had done the wrong thing he confessed that God was right in what he had done in disciplining his people and sending them to Babylon Daniel really did confess and pour out his heart to God Jonah thanked God for saving him Jonah was happy to be alive at that point not once did Jonah say in his prayer in Chapter 2 that he had sinned he did not

say that God was right in what he had done his prayer was a cry out to God to be saved and I’m not saying that this is wrong we should and we need to run to God when we’re in those situations we can cry out for his help all the time no matter what but what I’m saying is that Jonah’s heart was still caught up in what he wanted rather than what God wanted it’s almost like when you aren’t really sorry for what you’ve done you’re only sorry that you got caught and so when Jonah sees God love his enemies he felt mad and it’s just so human Oh Jonah we do it too when we see someone who maybe they hurt us in the past or we see someone who we think could never become a Christian and because of their lives were so sinful we can think God why would you save that person or we can thank God that pasen doesn’t deserve your grace you don’t you know that they’ve lived a life full of sin but that’s this thing about God’s love the thing about God’s grace he isn’t selective based on our past he’s concerned about our hearts now so when we turned to God we say god I don’t want to live this life in sin anymore when we get rid of our old way of life and we turn to him completely he has compassion on us because He loves us he binds up and heals our wounds and our brokenness no matter where we have come from God gives this opportunity to everyone he gives it to us today and he did give it to the people of Nineveh at that time but he also gave it to China as we said before Jonah is more concerned about his appearance than his obedience so Jonah became very angry with God because he had shown these people compassion as I said before the people of Nineveh was some of Israel Israel’s biggest enemies and they really were not good people and Jonah really didn’t want them to be saved but he knew that God was compassionate he knew that God was loving and so he knew that if these people heard this message that he was gonna give that they had that opportunity to turn from their evil ways they had an opportunity to choose God instead and he really didn’t want that to happen if he went and told them that they would all die and then they didn’t he would look like a fool and feel like going him going to them was just a complete waste of time he didn’t want to appear foolish because God chose not to destroy them so again sometimes in our life God gives us a certain call and it may seem ridiculous or it may seem scary or we might have to go and talk to someone we don’t want to but we all have the choice to obey we could have to go and talk to people but we don’t want to talk to you we might have to humble ourselves in a way that really impacts our pride sometimes we are given one opportunity Jonah was given a second opportunity to obey God after he was spit up by the fish we don’t always get that second opportunity but sometimes we do one thing I’ve said before and I often have to remind myself is that obedience isn’t convenient her obedience isn’t always convenience there are many reasons why we might not want to obey God we might look silly we might make mistakes we might have to give up something or someone we might have to sacrifice a lot we might have to go in a different direction to what we think we should be

going on it’s not always convenient or easy but obedience to God is always always worth it and the Bible tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice we read that in 1st Samuel chapter 15 verse 23 it says what is more pleasing to the Lord your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice listen obedience is better than sacrifice and Submission is better than offering the fat of rams obedience is better than what we bring to God so to speak and tells us that when we obey God it shows us that we love Him it’s our faith and love in action obedience is our faith and love in action John 14 verse 15 says if you love me obey my commands obey my Commandments when we are obedient to God I believe that it makes God smile it’s the same way when I ask my kids to do something and they obey me it makes me smile and it makes me feel so proud of them I know you that they’re listening and I know that they love me it’s it’s a similar thing but different because it’s God our obedience to God can show just how much we love him just how much we respect him and honor him and how willing we are to follow him and just think if if it makes my heart happy when my kids obey me how much joy must God have when he sees us obey Him the Book of Jonah and kind of suddenly with no real resolution and in the last few verses of Jonah chapter 4 Jonah is still mad God gives him the opportunity again to repent we don’t know if he has a hot change maybe maybe through the lessons that God was teaching him Jonah did have a hot change in a new love for God and a new love fathers maybe he learned to obey God out of love rather than obligation we aren’t actually told but for us each of us are given that choice to follow to follow God or to follow our own desires in our own ways so we can learn a lot from the Book of Jonah and from Jonah’s prayer so today I want to just leave you with some of the important lessons from all that we’ve just heard and read there is firstly there is no where we can run that God cannot reach out and save us so Jonah was running as far as he could from God’s call we may feel we want to run from the call God has for us or we may feel that we’ve drifted from God but no matter where we are or where we end up God can reach us there even if it’s in the depths of the sea even through sending a giant fish to hold us and to keep us safe wherever we are God may use situations to get your attention now I’m not saying that this is always the case however for me personally I do know that the current situations that I’m going through have caused me again to run to God in a different way even the global crisis that we are in has caused many many people to be are open to God and to turn to him so sometimes God uses situations to grow us and to draw us closer to him may we always be paying attention to what he is doing around us another lesson we can learn is that God hears our prayers when we are in the depths so even though Jonah was as far as he could be from God God heard his prayer and God saved him and God can save you too no matter how far how near he can hear you and he can save you another lesson is obedience isn’t

always convenient again we might be called to do something something uncomfortable something just that’s not convenient in our life it may even be something like a reading your Bible and praying each day you may have to sacrifice more time to ensure that you get that into your day or it might be something like talking to another person or even forgiving another person it could be about moving it could be staying put but whatever it is it isn’t always going to make sense to us in the moment or make sense to us even in our lifetime but obedience is so important for us as Christians because it draws us closer to God it points other people to God and it helps us to grow more in love with God the more we obey Him the more we are able to trust him but he’s also able to trust us with other things as well we learn and see that God’s heart is for all people and this is a message that’s throughout Scripture God’s heart is for all people even our enemies even the people who we think don’t deserve to be saved this does not mean that God loves what evil people do the Bible is clear that God hates sin that he he hates evil but if those people would turn from their evil ways he will show them his grace just as he has shown us his grace just as he is showing us his love so God’s heart is for all people and the final lesson is each day we have that choice to follow him just like Jonah was given we have the choice to choose who we will follow who we will obey each day so the question is who will we follow today I want to challenge you I want to encourage you maybe there is a certain aspect of Jonah of his life that stands out to you today I really want to encourage you to just run to God no matter where you are today if you feel far from God or if you need him to save you maybe you’re struggling with obedience or you’re struggling with other people if you want to choose him but it’s hard no matter what I want to encourage you to run to God to run to the Father he is here to guide us to help us through all things and he is here to save us so I’m gonna take some time now to pray for you and so again no matter where you are at today no matter how far we may feel God is there God is yeah and his arms are open ready I need to just pick you up and hold you no matter where you’re at today if you’re in a situation where you just feel like you just need to say hey God save me cry that out to him will you pray with me now father God we thank you for your word for the time we are able to spend in it the ability that you’ve given us to read it to hear it to learn it and the access that we have to it we thank you so much for the people in your word that we can learn so much from their lives we can learn so much about how we can live we can learn so much about you and so as we reflect on the life of Jonah father may we always run to you may we not run from you but run to you may we be people who obey your call may we not be afraid to talk to people to share with people the message that you give us the calling that you give us

father may we be people who seek you what if anyone listening today feel sorry far from you may they find the courage to call out to you to reach out to you today Lord may they recognize your love for them your peace that can only come from you for those who are struggling may be in obedience may they recognize their hearts their heart for you and see that obedience to you is so much better than anything else father we lift up those people in our lives those people who have hurt us or hurt those we care about those people who we think do not deserve your grace and we just pray for them too Lord that even though they are so far from you we ask that you would help us to forgive them but also Lord we pray that they would come to know you a lot of our hearts are struggling in that area may you help us to love I like you love not to say that the hurt is okay but to know that you love us and you love them thank you so much God that we can run to you no matter what we are going through that you are always there for us that all we have to do is call out to you and you hear us and so father we call out to you today we ask for your help we ask for your guidance for your love to just change our hearts that we would again be people who love you people who love others people who obey you Lord may you get all the glory in our lives may people recognize recognize your work in our lives and the lives around us and again God made you get all the glory and we just pray these things in Jesus name Amen