Sermon Recap: Pain Produces Prayer (Jonah 2)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our series on Jonah, Commissioned. 


C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” In Jonah 2, God has Jonah’s attention. And as a result of Jonah being in these painful circumstances, he prays. His pain produces prayer

I. Pray Like a Psalm

Jonah’s prayer looks like it is ripped right out of the book of Psalms. This is because: 

Jonah was steeped in Scripture

This quote from Charles Spurgeon (about John Bunyan) could have easily applied to Jonah:

Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like the reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture…. [He makes] us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.

Jonah believed God is sovereign

This can be seen clearly throughout his prayer:

  • v.2: “he answered me… he heard my voice”
  • v.3: “You cast me into the deep… your waves… passed over me.” 
  • v.6: “you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.”
  • v.9: “Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Pain deepened Jonah's faith. But it doesn't always have that effect. Pain can produce prayer in your life—the exercise of faith and dependence upon God. Or it can produce destruction.

Jonah was suffering like a Psalmist

In the Psalms, we read the prayers of people expressing the full range of human emotion. God shows us compassion in this. He gives us permission to vent our anger, frustration, doubts, pains, and pleas for help in the Psalms. We have a license from God to tell Him anything we need to. He wants to hear it. 

II. Repentance Leads to Praise

Jonah didn’t defend himself to God or pretend he was a victim. All he needed was nothing. And that’s what he brought to God: nothing. He saw his disobedience, and repented. And that repentance led to praise, as he closes his prayer in v.8-9 with: “I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you…. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 

III. Salvation Belongs to the Lord

Jonah wanted to save himself from the commission God gave him. But after Jonah, another prophet came whose commission was far worse than Jonah’s. Christ Jesus let His pain produce prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; prayed the Psalms (22:1) on the cross; prayed for our forgiveness as He died (Luke 23:34). Instead of saving Himself, Christ sacrificed Himself to save us from sin.

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. How would you describe Jonah's prayer? What do you find surprising about Jonah 2? 
  2. Why could Jonah pray the way he did? Why does his prayer sound like a Psalm? What can we learn from this?
  3. How does Jonah’s prayer compare to the way you pray? Are you as honest with your feelings in prayer as Jonah is?
  4. Jonah knew God's Word thoroughly—but he still disobeyed. What does this teach us about the human heart? What kind of knowledge leads to obedience?
  5. Jonah’s repentance led him to praise God. What passages of Scripture help you understand why repentance leads us to worship? (For example: James 4:6 & 1 Peter 5:5-7; Acts 2:38; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)
  6. What pain are you experiencing in your life right now? Has prayer been your response? Why/not?
  7. What is one area of sin God is leading you to repent of in your life? How do you think the Lord will use your repentance to lead to praise?