In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Screwtape, an arch demon, instruct his nephew understudy Wormwood on “the painful subject of prayer.” Samuel Chadwick, a Methodist minister, said, “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
There is, indeed, an eloquence to Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2. His prayer is honest, passionate, thankful, personal. His prayer is not mere words, but expresses his determination to do what God wanted him to do: to make good his vows to the Lord.
How is Jonah’s prayer received by the Lord? God shows He accepts Jonah’s prayer by the act of regurgitation! The Lord has the specially-prepared sea creature get close enough to land to spit out its human clump onto a dry beach.
But has Jonah’s heart really changed? Or was his life (like ours) a collection of rebellions and capitulations, sometimes doing God’s will and sometimes running from it?
After a hot bath with lots of soap, Jonah has homework to do. He must learn just enough Assyrian to speak the message God gave him to speak. And no more. (to be continued)