Be Still Know
Jonah 2:1 NLT
‘Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.’
Prayer is a challenge and prayer is a mystery. I have always prayed, ever since I can remember. As a kid after being tucked up in bed I would pray a simple prayer for protection for family and for our home. I wasn’t even a Christian as far as I was aware at that stage. However, I reached out to something beyond myself and gained great reassurance. Significantly my prayers revolved around my innermost fears; loss of family and against any invasion of the space in which I found my home. There appears something deposited deep within our psyche that draws us towards prayer, even when reason dismisses all concept of a divine God that lies beyond all understanding.
It is often both fear and impossibility that instigate our prayer. I definitely prayed more when the odds were stacked against me than when all was favourable. Slowly I built a relationship with an unknown other to whom I appealed in prayer when afraid, such as walking down the quiet unlit lane beside a cavernous park in winter on my way to choir practice. Then again that sense of being drawn to God as I passed the large crucifix in St Mary’s church to catch my train each morning to school. Foundations that made little sense, upon which I thought little and yet were the sparks that waited ignition as I sat in St Aldate’s, Oxford and was gathered into God’s family by the Holy Spirit.
God is present even to those who have no knowledge or acceptance of him. Jonah, having expressed his anger by ignoring God’s call, now ensconced in the belly of a fish offers up a prayer. Experience had shown him the reality of God, something he acknowledged the moment he ran, yet someone whom he’d successfully ignored for years. It was only after he came to his senses and recognised his future was fully in God’s hands that he turned to prayer. How like me. Initially ranting and chafing at the hand life has dealt me, and only once exhausted and out of ideas do I acknowledge the hand of God. This transference of responsibility that feels so often like control, from my hands to God’s, only takes place a long way down the track.
QUESTION: How and when do you pray?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, teach me to pray.