Opening Prayer

Merciful God, thank you for the truth of your Word. Without it, I would never have known of your great love for me, I never could have received salvation in Jesus. Please continue to teach me through it.

Read JONAH 1:17–2:10

Jonah’s Prayer

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 2 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 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.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“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.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.


  1. Jonah 2:1 In Hebrew texts 2:1 is numbered 1:17, and 2:1-10 is numbered 2:2-11.
  2. Jonah 2:5 Or waters were at my throat

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.’1 How has God met you, in highs and lows?

Think Further

Contrary to popular belief, SOS, recognized as an international distress signal since 1908, is not an abbreviation for ‘Save Our Ship’ or ‘Save Our Souls’—although these terms may seem appropriate, since it has saved many ships and lives!2 In chapter 1, God had saved a ship from being wrecked and he provided a huge fish to save Jonah from drowning (v. 17). From within the belly of the fish, Jonah gratefully recalls how God had responded to his SOS (v. 2).

Jonah’s running from God is depicted as a gradual going ‘down’: down to Joppa, down into a Tarshish-bound ship, then down to the lowest part of the ship.3 Now, going lower still, he ‘sank down’ to the ocean bed (v. 6). When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up! Sensing that ‘life was ebbing away,’ Jonah ‘remembered’ God and sent up a distress signal (v. 7). Was Jonah’s SOS a despairing cry to save his skin or a contrite plea to save his soul? Jonah’s prayer (vv. 2–9) contains acknowledgement of his hopeless plight and gratitude for God’s salvation, but does it demonstrate real repentance?

Medieval theologians distinguished between attrition (sorrow over sin due to fear of God’s punishment) and contrition (sorrow over sin because it has grieved a loving God). Although Jonah declares that ‘Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit God’s love for them’ (v. 8), he fails to confess that he himself had turned away from God’s command. He sees ‘specks’ in other eyes while ignoring the ‘plank’ in his own!4 Despite vows to offer ‘grateful praise’ and ‘sacrifice’ (v. 9), there is no confession of sin, no expression of contrition, no commitment to change. Jonah affirms that ‘salvation comes from the Lord’ (v. 9), but he still grudges the Ninevites God’s salvation.5


Evaluate the graciousness and generosity of your grace-giving against the benchmark of God’s grace in your life. How do you rate?

Closing prayer

Heavenly Father, whatever my circumstance, help me to trust in your presence, remain constant in your loving care, and ready to do your will.

Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by kingstar

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