BOTTOM LINE: God Hears our Prayers!
QUESTION: How do we balance the Grace of God w/ Social Justice & Man’s Laws?
JONAH 2:1 … “1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.”
Jonah’s disobedience lead to his repentance … it’s unbelievable how quickly he goes from running away from God to crying out to God here isn’t it? And as adults … let’s make sure we don’t get caught up here w/ what’s happening w/ the Fish rather than what’s happening w/ JONAH …
JONAH cried out God … and GOD answered! God ALWAYS answers prayers! And I’m not sure we understand the magnitude of that truth to be honest …
The Hebrew word used here for the depths of the grave is the word SHEOL … Sheol is another word for Hell … JONAH’s description of his situation was that he was crying out from the depths of Hell … in other words … in this moment, I am as far from God as I can possibly be … and NOTHING I could do was going to save myself …
JONAH 2:3-6 … “3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me [we can almost sense his feeling of desperation here can’t we? This is his best attempt at describing the helplessness and SHEOL he was feeling]. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. [and this isn’t a cry for Salvation because JONAH was already a believer … this is a statement of determination to pray in spite of his banishment]‘
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever [JONAH felt like there was no hope for him … life was over …]. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.”
ILLUSTRATION: Let me give you an example … have you ever had someone say, Well, I guess all we can do now is PRAY!” What does that mean? Because all we can EVER do is PRAY right? Sure, God provides Medicine, Technology, Really smart and gifted People … but all the HOPE we ever have is for God to intervene on our behalf …
Our only HOPE is for God to give us the FAITH and GRACE to endure … the PEACE to get through … and the ability to PRAISE Him regardless of the outcome.
PRAYER isn’t some last ditch effort … or the Last Resort that we turn to when all our other options have been exhausted! PRAYER must be FIRST, in the MIDDLE … and the LAST RESORT!
The author of Hebrews said it this way … that we can come BODLY before the throne of Grace. We have the right as His Children to come into His presence and to seek His help in all times of our lives and He will answer us in His way and in His Time. And us … we are to TRUST, OBEY, & ENDURE.
PRAYER is so much more than a last ditch effort … and what I’ve experienced in PRAYER is how much it literally changes both me and my circumstances from the Inside/Out when I’m rooted in PRAYER … and Jesus … He was never too busy to PRAY … and when we are constantly in PRAYER, we look more like Jesus too right?
1. HELPLESS doesn’t mean HOPELESS
JONAH was HELPLESS for sure … but he wasn’t HOPELESS. God can and often does rescue us from even our depths of SHEOL … Nobody is beyond God’s ability to rescue us … no matter how bad our life has been up til now, we can call out and He will answer.
2. God Answers PRAYER
He may not always answer it the way we expect, and He may not answer on our schedule but He will answer in a way that fits His MISSION in the world.
Many of the Psalms are literally that … heart bearing prayers that the writers are crying out to God … often full of Praise, Anger, Joy, Hurt, Questioning, and even Doubt … but they all seem to end w/ Thanksgiving …
The Bible tells us that the Prayers of the RIGHTEOUS are powerful and effective … and we know that the God of the Universe hears our PRAYERS …