Lessons from Prophet Jonah’s repentance and prayers

by Church Times

By John Abiola

“Now the Lord has prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”Jonah 1:17.
No man can or has ever prophesied life upon the dry bones apart from those who have experienced a revival. They are the ones who can trigger a revival in the lives of people.
People that God used to spearhead the move of the Holy Spirit in the past were prepared adequately through personal revival before they were transferred into the valley of dry bones of men to prophesy ” Thus saith the Lord”.
When God commissioned John the Baptist, he was sent to the wilderness. What for? Why wilderness? Before John could be used to start up such revival, he first and foremost had to experience spiritual training, and personal revival that would convey him to the pinnacle of responsibility and leadership.
It was said of Ezekiel “The hand of the Lord was upon Him” ( Ezekiel 37:1). What is the significance of this hand? Personal revival in preparation for his positioning at the valley for the work of evangelization.

Prophet Jonah

The Prophet Jonah was not left out, although his experience was quite unusual. Despite his rebellion against God’s order, He was compelled through destiny to be revived before being sent to be used to revive others.
Let’s now go down memory lane as we see one of the most remarkable revivals that happened in the past. ( see Jonah 1-4). It was no small spiritual feat.
Rather, it was a heartbreaking and powerful display of revival power. However, oftentimes, many tend to lightly esteem its significance.
Some say he could have just obeyed God while some believe if he had obeyed God his preparatory academy might have never happened
Notwithstanding, the major point we have to understand is that certain events and experiences we often tag as ‘mistakes’ happen intentionally, usually for a purpose. He could be for revelation, to teach us lessons, to expand our understanding of how God works, especially with man.

Jonah’s disobedience

Jonah’s disobedience brings us into a dimension of God’s ways. Had Jonah obeyed God firsthand, that powerful prayer in chapter two would never have been recorded. And the error and terrible consequences of disobedience would have been laid off.
In fact, the revival that happened on the ship he boarded to Tarshish would never have been recorded. People who served various gods (heathens) witnessed the mighty power of God in calming the sea, and what followed next was a spectacular experience.
Scripture recorded that ‘the men feared the Lord exceedingly’ (Jon 1: 16). (It’s often known that the fear of God is one attribute and sign of a revival.)
As if that wasn’t enough, they went further to offering sacrifices unto the LORD and made vows. (Jon 1: 16). Striking right? what vows would heathen people vow unto the Lord? This looks more to me like Rom.10:9. In other words, the men believed in the God that Jonah served.
Just like other great revivalists, Jonah was not left out in the salient preparatory school and personal revival. He like John the Baptist was in the wilderness where he was refined adequately to come forth as pure gold to reveal his credibility and sanctification, and the power of God upon him.
He was there learning to understand the nature and attributes of God as a God of love and mercy, that whomever and whatever nation he decides to show mercy will receive mercy.

In the belly of the fish

In the belly of the fish, Jonah knew God’s ways in preference to forgiving and saving His enemies rather than punishing and destroying them.
From the prologue of the story, Jonah heard God’s instruction to go to  Nineveh with a message of doom that would eventually provoke Repentance, sent to the capital of the great empire of Assyria, Israel’s merciless, hostile, and deadliest enemy.
Jonah who at that time lacked complete spiritual understanding of God’s nature as Love bluntly disobeyed.
He forsook his call to gratify his desire and thought he could run away from the presence of God.  Possibly, it was then God concluded that Jonah needed adequate preparation for the great task he was chosen to start.
Probably, he was never even prepared in the first place. God just wanted to test his zealousness to the prophetic assignment. Nevertheless, on his way to Tarshish, the hand of God in Judgment caught up with him and propelled him into the fish’s belly (His wilderness experience) for preparation and personal revival.
He was in the belly of the fish for 72 hours, only Prophet Jonah can explain what he experienced. What the devil meant for evil, the Lord turned for his good. The devil knew little well that the people of Nineveh could through Jonah drink from the fresh flowing water of revival, maybe that was why he could have laid such terrible trap for the Prophet.
However, he failed to see that his plans were an intentional work to adequately prepare Jonah for the work of prophesying.

All things work for good

The scripture, Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” was by all means fulfilled in the life of Jonah, although in a brutal manner.
Jonah landed inside the belly of the fish to experience a firsthand knowledge of God, to know his sin, and for the work he would spearhead in three days.
In the fish’s belly, he discovered why God could intend to destroy a nation because of their wickedness, he got to know that God was teaching him why his act of disobedience was not palatable and that he needed a brush-up, a knockout to reconsider his ways and receive God’s enduring mercy.
He learnt that just as he was experiencing the consequences for his act of disobedience, the people of Nineveh would in like manner experience spiritual consequences for their sins under God’s judgment.
He also discovered that through this experience, he was being prepared on how to preach in love to Nineveh, the message of judgment unto repentance.
He was also being worked upon, refined, and equipped with power for that cause. His assignment was being reinstated back to him. He was being cleansed from dead works -remember, Jonah’s escape route was actually because he knew that God would later forgive the people of Nineveh who to him needed no mercy.
This was why his action recorded in Chapter 4 was to give us an understanding of the depth of Nineveh’s wickedness and why he rejected God’s call to go and warn the.
He was also to give us an understanding of the depth of God’s love for a sinful nation that deserved nothing but the fearful thumb of judgment.
In the belly of the fish, Jonah learnt righteousness and God’s great love. Like David, he could have said in Psalms 119:71, ” It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes”.
He experienced a revival, and so he was ready like Isaiah to be used in reviving others. In the words of Isaiah “Here am I; send me”(Isaiah 6:8).
Now, he was adequately refined and prepared to preach God’s message with power to a sinful nation. Therefore,  “And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land”(Jonah 2:10 ).
What happened thereafter was restoration of the word of the Lord the second time,(Jonah 3:1-2), unlike John the Baptist who got his word from God once after the wilderness experience (Mat 3:1-2; Luke 3:2-3).
In chapter 3 of our anchor scripture, what happened is best described in the words of a poet named Adeshina. “Powerful, earthshaking, tremendous and bountiful. Dried trees were sprouting out new leaves like newborn flowers, dry naked bones of men dancing under the heat of life’s power, getting spiritual clothes and sinews joined together.
All we could hear and feel was sorrow, pain, melancholy, and despondency towards wicked native ways, like the men and brethren in Acts chapter 2:37-40 clamoring out “What shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent. And they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls”.
It’s a rise unto a new life and character,  no doubt it was a fresh flow of revival springs”  It was a strategic revival! From the greatest to the least, all in contrite repentance,  put on sackcloths for God’s release of His mercy. Jonah 3:6-8.

God forgave a heathen nation

A heathen nation turned to God and saw no judgement but God’s power to forgive. Nevertheless, beyond his preparatory academy in the belly of the fish, beyond the move of revival that God used him for, beyond even the revelation behind his change of action we see another phase of Jonah in Chapter 4.
He began a series of murmurings and complaints like we in this generation who take pleasure in the death and destruction of our perceived human enemies and persecutors.
One major lesson and revelation learnt was his powerful heart-cry supplication and his prayers. I already laid emphasis first on his revival, the second emphasis is on his prayer. In his prayer closet for 72 hours.
“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried because of my affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me, out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” ( Jonah 2:1-2)
I am sure  Jonah would not have had up to five minutes of sleep in the fish’s belly. He must have prayed for three days. I  wonder how great the power he accessed through the prayer stretch. What was his cry, his pertinent prayer?
There are great lessons to be learnt from the 72 hours of prayer adventure of this prophet that gave him life again, revived him, and moved God’s hands of love and mercy to prevail over him, bringing him out of his predicament to becoming a great instrument for revival in Nineveh. We in this generation still constantly read of his works in Jonah 1-4, we are inspired by the move of revival he was used for.

 *Lessons from the prophet Jonah’s repentance, prayer, and revival .*    

Jonah 2:1-10.
Jonah was a relevant revivalist, a man of prayer, and a prophet. He led one of the most remarkable revivals in history.
His ministry and message turned a whole nation, the heathen Ninevites back to God in repentance. But Jonah learnt obedience the hard way. How did he come out of his trouble? This forms the basics of the second emphasis.
Verse 1. Jonah learned to pray biblical prayers when he was in trouble. Many believers are praying wrong prayers inspired by wrong motives -when they are in trouble.
Many keep praying for the death of their perceived human enemies whereas, God is simply behind their trouble to correct them of sin.
Indirectly, these folks are praying that God should die though God can’t die. Eventually, they die in their trouble and perish in hell because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the principle of prayer.
Many believers are in their comfort zones, totally neglecting the importance of prayers, many have God’s calling upon their lives but still many are running another man’s calling for popularity, possession, titles, and wealth, many others are too busy to pray for God’s direction for their lives. Don’t wait until problem comes.  Pray for everything. Be persistent and consistent in prayers for God’s will and purposes in your life.
Verse 2: Be rest assured that God answers the prayers of a repentant person. Scripture says, “Behold the Lord’s is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear”. Isaiah 59:1-2.
When you slip into sin, what is needed is to immediately reconcile with God by genuinely repenting of your sin.
Verse 3: God allows trouble to correct us when we go out of his will. His love is to bring us out of the trouble. No matter how difficult your situation is, God desires to deliver you.
Verse 4. Jonah thought he could run from God’s presence in disobedience but eventually when he acknowledged his wrong, he desired to amend his way by a prayer of repentance.
Verse 5. Jonah gave a vivid explanation of his trouble so we may know that the penalty of disobedience is not palatable.
Verse 6: Jonah experienced pains almost beyond redemption, his pain activated a prayer of sincerity and a desire to change.
Verse 7: God’s throne of mercy is widely opened 24/7 daily. You can call on him anytime, anywhere, even when you are weak and faint and need God’s strength and power. (Mathew 7:7)
Verse 8: Jonah voiced out a warning to us all: They that observe lying vanities forsake their mercy, thereby giving us knowledge of the consequence of sin.
Verse 9: When God forgave him and restored him, Jonah resolved to fulfill the promises he made while in the belly of the fish. This led to his deliverance, He realized he was still accountable to God.
 Verse 10: Jonah did not die in his sin and trouble. God forgave his sin and brought him out of his afflictions in answer to his persistent and consistent cry of mercy and God restored him and his calling.
There is still hope for you in God. Only do what Jonah did to get out of sin and disobedience to God’s words. It’s not over for you, the mercy of God endures forever. Simply pray the prayers of Jonah and you will get the same results from God.
How to access the result of Jonah’s prayers:
(1)If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you’re not born again, pray the prayer of salvation. Today is your day of salvation. Pray Jonah’s prayer.
(2) You were once a fervent believer but you have turned your back on Jesus, you have backslidden and you desire to be restored to him. Pray Jonah’s prayer.
(3) You are a servant of God but like Jonah, you have gone astray… probably in a ministry that God did not call you to.
Pray Jonah’s prayer.
(4) If you are in trouble as a result of your faith in Christ, or because you’re in the will of God seek God’s face in consistent prayers for direction and clarity of why you are in such a situation and be not discouraged.  Also, pray prophet Jonah’s prayer.
(5) You are in a valley of decision in your service to the Lord or in a difficult situation.  Pray Jonah’s prayer.
May the Lord answer your prayers as He did to Jonah. Amen!
The sinner’s prayer: Lord Jesus I acknowledge that I am a sinner, please forgive my sin, accept me as your lost but found child, and grant me access to the gift of Salvation you choose to offer me, through your death on the Cross.
I now believe you are my Lord and my savior, I also believe you have accepted me now as your child. Thank you for the Gift of Salvation you have offered to me now. I access your kingdom by faith now in Jesus’ name I pray.
Congratulations you are now born again!
John Abiola.
Revive Us Again series 94.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment