By Rev. Jeremiah Cheung
From Jonah 2:1-10
2:1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 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. 3 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. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 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. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 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.
The second chapter of Jonah is a prayer. It can be said that this prayer is one of a kind because no one has prayed from the belly of a fish before and, I believe, neither will anyone else pray from the belly of a fish in the future. When Jonah had been thrown overboard into the sea, it was supposed to be the end for him, but the Lord arranged for a big fish to swallow him up. Jonah ended up in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. This was a miracle and it was also God’s mercy.
We pray to God in different places, but I do not think any of us will have the opportunity to pray from the belly of a fish as Jonah did. Jonah 2:1 “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.” Praying while in the belly of a fish also means praying in a time of trouble. Jonah also said the same, Jonah 2:2 “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.” Are we not also in trouble now? The COVID-19 pandemic that we face is a global disaster; are we not in trouble too? Jonah added in 2:7: “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord.” The phrase “When life ebbs away” signifies those times when even thinking is difficult and when all that is ahead looks dreadfully bleak. Are we not all in this exact same situation now? Nonetheless, we thank God because we can pray.
There is a very important principle that we must grasp from this prayer, which Jonah mentioned twice: In Jonah 2:4, we read: “I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ In 2:7, we read: “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Both Jonah 2:4 and Jonah 2:7 mention the same thing – prayer rising from the belly of the fish toward the temple of God. What kind of prayer is this? This is the prayer of Solomon when he dedicated the temple to the Lord. Solomon prayed, “When we, your people, sin in the future, when we are taken captive and become scattered in various places, if we turn back to you in repentance, and pray to you, may our prayers reach your temple.” He prayed that their prayers may reach the Lord. Now Jonah is in the belly of a fish. Why was he in there? It was because he had disobeyed God. But now that he is repenting, he remembered Solomon’s prayer. He confessed his sins to God from the belly of the fish. He asked God for mercy and the Lord God heard his prayer. Jonah 2:10 says, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
It is not important where we, the Church, pray but what is most important is our attitude in prayer. Let us come to God in humility and come to Him with a repentant heart!
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魚腹裡的禱告 | 約拿書
2:1 約拿在魚腹中禱告耶和華他的神, 2 說, 我遭遇患難求告耶和華,你就應允我, 從陰間的深處呼求, 你就俯聽我的聲音。3 你將我投下深淵, 就是海的深處, 大水環繞我, 你的波浪洪濤, 都漫過我身。4 我說, 我從你眼前雖被驅逐, 我仍要仰望你的聖殿。5 諸水環繞我,幾乎淹沒我, 深淵圍住我, 海草纏繞我的頭; 6 我下到山根, 地的門將我永遠關住。耶和華我的神阿, 你卻將我的性命從坑中救出來。7 我心在我裡面發昏的時候, 我就想念耶和華。我的禱告進入你的聖殿, 達到你的面前。8 那信奉虛無之神的人, 離棄憐愛他們的主, 9 但我必用感謝的聲音獻祭與你, 我所許的願, 我必償還。救恩出於耶和華。10 耶和華吩咐魚, 魚就把約拿吐在旱地上。
約拿書第二章可以說是一個空前絕後的禱告, 因為從來沒有人曾在魚腹裡禱告, 我想將來也不會有人在魚腹裡禱告。約拿被掉在大海裡, 本來就是死路一條, 但神卻安排一條大魚將他吞了, 結果他在魚腹裡三日三夜, 這是一個神蹟, 這也是神的恩典。
我們會在不同的地方禱告神, 但在魚腹裡禱告, 我想我們都沒有這個機會, 但約拿卻有。2:1 約拿在魚腹中禱告耶和華他的神。在魚腹裡禱告也是困難中的禱告, 約拿也是這樣說的, 2:2 說, 我遭遇患難求告耶和華, 你就應允我, 從陰間的深處呼求, 你就俯聽我的聲音。我們現在也不是在困難中嗎? 我們現在面對的COVID-19是全球性的災難, 我們不也是在困難中嗎？約拿又說2:7 我心在我裡面發昏的時候, 我就想念耶和華。發昏的時候就是連思想都困難的時候, 對前途根本也沒有把握的時候, 這也不是我們現在的情況嗎? 但感謝神, 我們仍可以禱告。
在這個禱告裡, 有一個很重要的原則我們要把握, 約拿二次提到一件事: 2:4 我說, 我從你眼前雖被驅逐, 我仍要仰望你的聖殿。2:7 我心在我裡面發昏的時候, 我就想念耶和華。我的禱告進入你的聖殿, 達到你的面前。2:4/2:7 都提到一件事, 禱告從魚腹中達到神的聖殿, 這是什麼的禱告。這是所羅門獻殿的時候的禱告, 所羅門王說, 將來如果我們犯了罪, 我們被分散到各地, 但只要我們認罪悔改, 在各地向你禱告, 願我們的禱告達到你的聖殿, 其實意思是達到神的面前。現在約拿在魚腹中, 為什麼他會在魚腹中? 因為不順服神, 現在他悔改了, 他想到所羅門的禱告, 他在魚腹中向神認罪, 求神憐憫, 神也垂聽了。2:10 耶和華吩咐魚, 魚就把約拿吐在旱地上。
教會在什麼地方禱告不是最重要, 用什麼的態度來禱告才是最重要的原則, 以謙卑的心來到神面前, 以認罪悔改的心來到祂面前吧!