On Monday, we prayed the prayer of Jonah from three different perspectives; one of those being the perspective of someone going through trouble. It’s good to remember that our neighbors living around us don’t always wear their trouble on their sleeve. Thoreau was keen when observing “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” (Walden, ch 1). As we pray for those around us today, let’s be mindful that many of their ‘belly of the whale’ moments may be under the surface and more quiet in nature. When we pray prayers like Jonah’s through the eyes of our neighbors, we begin to cultivate a heart of solidarity, empathy, and love for them that reflects the heart of a God who spent “three days and nights in the heart of the earth” and knows our deepest pain.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 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.
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.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
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.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
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.’ ”
About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC