Debra Isenbletter, Pastor
Jonah 2:7: “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.” This verse is such a wonderful testimony of faith and the power of the Word of God to activate that faith. Jonah fainted, then he remembered the Lord; he remembered the Word, and as he prayed he drew from the Word of God and his faith revived.
Jonah Fainted: This is his desperation, it is the desperation of the “soul,” of the mind, of the heart. When Jonah “fainted” it speaks of an emotional reaction, not just a physical reaction. I do not think he collapsed in the belly of the fish, he was probably already prostrate, in a position of physical collapse. Jonah was emotionally “overwhelmed,” he had come to the end of himself, the end of his strength, the end of his struggle. The word “fainted” comes from “to shroud” (from the idea of darkness). He needed to see the light of the Word in the midst of the darkness of despair. When he remembers the Word there is light and there is hope! Jonah’s faith will overcome his fears and his feelings. He must stop looking at himself and start looking at his God. The Psalms remind him of those who have fainted and been restored by faith. He is not alone and the testimony of others show him the way. “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart” (Psa.73:26). “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path” (Psa.142:3).
Jonah Remembered: This is his recollection. Remembering is the first step to victory over despair. It means “to be mindful of; to recall.” It also means “to cause to remember” and trials will do this and the Holy Spirit will do this. It means “to keep in remembrance” and that is the key to victory and overcoming. To know the Word, to remind ourselves of the Word. Reading the scriptures is one way to remind ourselves of the Word, so that we remember it. Mediating on the Word is another way and studying the Word is another way. Each takes a different amount of time and different effort but the end result for each is a storehouse to draw from in time of need. We can do this anytime. The Word is available for us, waiting for us to partake of it and store it up for future use. Jonah remembers that his God made promises to him, and that his God had a relationship with him. He was his prophet and his servant. Jonah remembers what other godly men have said at a crucial time in their lives. He remembered that the Lord was “a very present help in trouble” (Psa.46:1). He remembered that there were others who when their “soul was cast down” also remembered God and were comforted and found hope. (Psa.42:6). I am always struck by what Jeremiah says in Lamentations. He remembered both the positive and the negative experiences and was able to find a balance and he learned and grew from that remembering. He remembered his affliction and misery (Lam.3:19). He remembered and was humbled (3:20). He remembered and had hope (3:21). He had hope because he remembered His mercy (3:22). In the end he remembered how great was the Lord’s faithfulness (3:23). He remembered and overcame and was not overcome. That is what each of us must do by faith. We see the trial but we see the Lord. We see both and find that the Lord makes the trial bearable until He brings us through. Jonah is waiting for deliverance and so are we. Paul, showed us by his example, and teaching that we can be more than conquerors, that nothing will separate us from the One who loves us. (Rom.8:37-39). We can choose what to remember and we can look to the Lord and wait for deliverance. Jonah did this. Jesus did this. We do this.
Jonah Prayed: This is his conviction. Jonah laid hold of his privilege as a servant of the Lord. His prayer was “supplication, it was a “petition” and it was a “praise.” There is a wonderful balance in our prayer life if we have both praise and petition, instead of just petition, instead of just listing our need. Praise lifts our eyes up above the need so that we can see the One who will meet it. Jonah prayed and he knew that it “came in unto” the Lord. He knew the Lord heard his prayer. The words “came in unto” show the stages of prayer. It means “to depart,” the prayer was sent forth by faith. It means “to enter in, the prayer came into God’s Presence. It means “to abide,” the prayer was heard, received, accepted and was not turned away. Jonah’s prayer was a prayer of need but it was also a prayer of faith. He knew how to pray. He knew Who to pray to. He knew his prayer would be heard. He knew this because he remembered the prayers of others and he remembered their faith. He knew this because the Word told him this. He remembered those in distress who said, “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried unto my God and he heard my voice” (Psa.18:6) This is the testimony of faith, an example showing us that we must be willing to pray, no matter how dire or difficult the circumstance. Prayer relieves the weight of the burden because the moment we pray we begin to let go of the burden and let the Lord take it up for us. This is not claiming, it is not demanding, it is turning the burden over to the Lord and trusting in Him to carry it for us and deliver us when He chooses and how He chooses.
Jonah Believed: This is his devotion. In 2:4 Jonah said, “I will look toward the temple.” He looked, he prayed and now he says “my prayer came … into thy temple.” Jonah’s look and prayer was directed to where the Presence of the Lord was and His presence can be found in the earth and also in heaven. He can always be found. In the earthly temple the Presence of the Lord was seen and felt when it filled the house of the Lord. (1Ki.8:10-13). But the Presence of the Lord was just as real, just as powerful when it was seen with the eyes of faith. Isaiah saw by faith the Lord sitting in His temple (Isa.6:1) and he was overwhelmed and overcome. Jonah looked to the earthly and heavenly temple in faith. He could see neither with his natural eyes but he saw both with spiritual eyes. His prayer came into God’s Presence and he knew it.
Paul reminds us that our prayers are heard, that nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ or the Love of God and he lists all the things that we think might separate us and he says that they cannot (Rom.8:35-39). We can pray with absolute assurance no matter where we find ourselves.
We look and pray to a heavenly place. This is where our blessings are (Eph.1:3). This is where we are seated by faith (Eph.1:6) and where our Savior dwells (Eph.1:20). Jonah is standing on resurrection ground by faith when he prays and so are we. Praise the Lord!