When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple– Jonah 2:7
Prayer can take us from hell to heaven in the blink of an eye.
Here Jonah had run away from God, disobeying the command to preach to Israel’s enemies in the city of Nineveh. Jonah’s ship was therefore caught in the midst of a great storm that God brought his way. Jonah was famously thrown from the ship and swallowed by a great fish.
As he languishes in the unimaginable discomfort and horror of the fish’s belly, Jonah describes himself as being in “the belly of hell” (2:2). Jonah was in this predicament because of his own disobedience and rebellion. He felt as though he had been cast away from the presence and watchcare of God (2:4). Yet, he says, “I will look again toward thy holy temple.”
When we find ourselves suffering for our own sins, we are sometimes tempted to avoid God. Out of a sense of guilt, or pride, or embarrassment we turn away from God rather than turning to him in prayer.
But, as Jonah observed, afflictions are sometimes sent to draw us to God, to deliver us from our sinful path: “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD.” The very affliction is what brought Jonah to cry out to God.
God has never yet turned away any sinner who prayed to him in repentance. Jonah found that, even as he suffered “in the belly of hell” he was able, through prayer, to come to God in his holy temple.
If you find yourself far away from God today, rush into his presence through prayer and bask in the glow of his abundant forgiveness and love.