Prayer in the Darkness

Text: Jonah 1:17 – 2:9

Big Idea: “God will use the darkness of your trials to draw you closer to Himself.”

1. Jonah’s Darkness (1:17)

This was not some strange coincidence of timing between a drowning man and a hungry fish. This was orchestrated and appointed by God.

If there was a good opportunity for Jonah to panic, this was it. You are in the digestive system of an animal, with no direction but down and no outcome but a slow, hot, painful, stinking death. So Jonah could not look at his circumstances and see any hope. And that’s what God intended. God was using Jonah’s darkness to show him that he could not find hope in anything but God.

In the darkness, in the times we can’t see clearly, God uses those times to teach us to trust in Him. We can’t see, but He can. We don’t know, but He does. In all of this, God is in control.

Because of that, Jonah’s darkness, this great fish, was not a final punishment for his disobedience, nor was it just a means of transportation getting Jonah back to shore. God is using this darkness to bring Jonah’s heart back to God.

2. Jonah’s Prayer (2:1-9)

We see the change in Jonah through his prayer – with elements that all believers should include in our prayer life. Jonah’s prayer was:

a. An Honest Prayer (2:1-6a) – Jonah is declaring what is true. He is declaring God’s faithfulness. “Lord, I called out and you heard my prayer.” He says out the belly of Sheol (literally, “out of the grave”) I cried, and the Lord heard my voice. In the darkness, in our times of not seeing or knowing what to do, in times of our own weakness, God reveals the truth of who He is, and grants us faith so that we may see Him more clearly and trust in Him completely.

b. A Repentant Prayer (2:6b-7) – Jonah is praying in past tense “you brought my life from the pit”. But he’s still inside the fish. His circumstances look just as hopeless as they did 2 days ago, still inside the fish. So what is Jonah talking about? Jonah is praising God that he has been rescued from his own hardened heart. The trial, circumstance, difficulty you’re going through – God can use it to draw us to repentance, to work in us sanctification. He wants to remind you of His steadfast love.

c. A Grateful Prayer (2:9) – In the beginning, Jonah ran from God because he despised God’s mercy. Now, Jonah is in the most hopeless situation of his life, and he is singing to God with thanksgiving, with gratitude. Still in the darkness, Jonah is grateful and giving God praise. God will use the darkness of our trials to get our eyes off of what we don’t have, and remind us what we do have. Where our hearts are prone to complain and be discontent, God will use our trials to remind us just how blessed we are in Christ.

Questions for the heart:

  1. What “darkness” are you facing right now? How is God using this trial to draw you closer to Himself?
  2. When you’re in a trial, does your prayer life change? If so, how? Why?
  3. Whether you are in a trial or not, how does God want to use you to comfort someone else going through their own darkness right now?


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