~ Guest Post By Danny Dodd ~
Prayer Text for today is Jonah 2.
Jonah was in trouble. Running from God had not quite worked out for him. Sure, from his perspective he had been given an unthinkable task. Preach to the dreaded Ninevites? What was God thinking? Did he not know they were the enemy—a totally disgusting lot? No way Jonah decided. So he jumped on the first ship out of Joppa and away from Nineveh.
Ending up in the belly of a “great fish” was likely the not the stowaway adventure he expected; yet that is where he found himself. Running from God can take us to strange and uncomfortable places.
Maybe not knowing what else to do, Jonah prayed. It is recorded for us in the Old Testament book that bears his name in chapter two. It is Jonah’s prayer from the gut—in more ways than one.
Reading the prayer you come away with the feeling that in it Jonah is trying to work out everything that has happened to him. He, through prayer, is attempting to process and understand his trials.
In his prayer he acknowledges his “distress” (difficult not to considering his location); realizes that his own choices contributed to him being “banished” from God’s sight (“seaweed… wrapped around my head” encouraged self-discovery); recognizes that God is the answer he needs (“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord.”); recommits to his relationship with God (“What I have vowed I will make good.”); and acknowledged that, “Salvation comes from the Lord.”
With that God prompted the fish to “vomit Jonah onto dry land” and Jonah got about the business to which God called him.
I have never been in the belly of a great fish, but I have spoken a few prayers from the gut. Like Jonah I have reached out to God in the midst of suffering in an attempt to sort it all out—to make sense of it.
Like Jonah—God answered. Like Jonah—God eventually took me to a better place. And like Jonah—I did not always fully grasp his answer or his purpose (see Jonah chapter four), but through it all God was faithful to his will.
That is the great take-a-way from Jonah. We don’t want them; we will question them; we may never completely understand them; but God can and does work through our trials to accomplish some amazingly unbelievable things.
Who would have ever thought (certainly not Jonah) that Nineveh—the embodiment of wickedness—would ever repent and turn to God?
With that overall perspective in mind—that God can use us in our struggles for beautiful purposes—here is a quick Jonah-inspired five-point approach when we find our selves praying from the gut:
*Name our struggle. Don’t hold back. We have a divine invitation to lay it all out before God (1 Peter 5:7). His shoulders can handle it.
*Use it as a time for introspection. Maybe we have or maybe we have not contributed to our sufferings. Either way prayer from the gut offers us a chance for self-reflection.
*Seek God’s direction. Obvious perhaps, but speak it. Let God hear our cry and plea for help.
*Reaffirm our commitment to him. In the depths of the hurt, honor his name above all. Work to use the struggle to strengthen faith (see Mark 9:24).
*Acknowledge, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” This is the trust factor. God sees what we cannot. In the belly of our great fish we affirm that he is the way out.
Praying from the gut does not guarantee the immediate removal or solution to our trial. It does, however, fully invite God into it and asks him to work within it to strengthen us and accomplish his will. Ultimately, we can trust that he will lead us to dry land and that the journey along the way—as difficult as it may be—will create an eternal difference within us and for others journeying with us.
“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.” ~Jonah 2:1
God is very familiar with prayers from the gut. He does some of his best work through them.
Danny and Terri Dodd and their girls Jordan and Taylor, live in the Little Rock, Arkansas area. He also has a daughter, Natalie, that lives in Texas. Danny is the Preaching Minister for the Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock. His sermons are flavored with humor and energy for God. He is an avid fan of Andy Griffith and hopes Heaven is a lot like Mayberry. I would tell you some other things about him but we have been friends for decades and he might tell something about me. You can connect with him on Facebook page HERE. Also you can read his popular blog HERE. I am grateful for his contribution to this series of posts on prayer.