Our story continues, and we hear about what happened to Jonah after going overboard during the ferocious storm. Jonah does this in the form of a prayer. And he prays this from the belly of a fish! From the sounds of it, God’s rescue of Jonah was “just in time” using the fish to catch him and bring Jonah to safety.
Jonah prayed, and God heard him. “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me.” It didn’t matter that Jonah had turned his back on God and avoided doing what God had asked him to do. Jonah wisely realized that his only hope was in the very God he was running from. God was also faithful and did not let the rebellious Jonah die.
Jeremiah gives us a great example of prayer. He is still puzzling over his purchase of land from our last reading. And yet, instead of coming right out and asking God why, he includes the situation in his tribute to God’s power.
Think of your last prayer to God. Did you give him praise and honor for all he has done? Did you specify the mighty works that have gotten your attention? That’s what we see Jeremiah doing. God loves our adoration. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
Praying is something we can do as often as possible and it’s free! It only costs us time, but what better way to spend time than with God? Right? Paul is encouraging the Colossians to pray for themselves and for his ministry.
It was interesting to me that Paul chose to share about being in chains as he closes this letter. Clearly, Paul’s message was not meant to be about himself or his own situation, but to proclaim Jesus and deal with issues facing the young church. Almost as if in passing, he lets them know of the situation keeping him from seeing them in person.
Did you catch how Paul acknowledged the audience? The people of Colosse are introduced as holy and faithful brothers and sisters. What a high honor Paul uses in greeting them. How would someone introduce you and your character?
Interesting to note, Paul had never visited Colosse. The church was founded by someone Paul had converted elsewhere. As often happens, young churches are easily infiltrated by unhealthy trends. It is my understanding the Colossians have been combining elements of paganism and secular philosophy with Christian doctrine. Paul and Timothy write to nip that in the bud so the people can get back on the right track. The timeless truths of this letter focus on the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ.
Have you ever been part of a discussion where the topic is “whether God ever changes his mind?” This is especially a key concept for our prayer lives. Hezekiah didn’t want to die, and he made that abundantly clear to God in his prayers. God’s mind had been made up, as we can see through Isaiah’s prediction of Hezekiah’s death.
This notion the king wouldn’t survive this illness wasn’t Isaiah’s idea. Nobody just makes up the idea somebody else is going to die and then say it’s a word from God. Do they? No, Hezekiah’s time was coming, and God wanted him to know. Knowing when you’re going to die, that, in and of itself is amazing! How many people get privy to “intel” like that? I’m sure it was infrequent in Hezekiah’s day, too.