The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in for ever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
As we have established, Jonah makes considerable use of the Psalms as he prays. At this midpoint however, his own words start to emerge. These vivid images of seaweed wrapped around his head are unique to him.
Having found his truth in Scripture, his own voice finally breaks through.
When I came to faith, prayer was something I struggled with. In truth, it is still something I find hard. What are we supposed to be doing when we pray? Does God answer prayers?
It can feel rather dubious to spend time badgering God for things that might make my life a little more bearable. It is for this reason I find Bible-based prayer particularly helpful. In Scripture we will encounter the divine, as well as the best and worst of ourselves. The Holy Bible is a book of contradictions. It has inspired countless civil rights crusaders; yet at the same time it has also been used to justify slavery. We therefore have to acknowledge that God does not provide simple ‘answers’ through Scripture.
Meditating on a passage, I can however feel the barnacles of my own selfishness and self-delusion slowly being chiseled away. We are not ‘doing’ something when we pray; God is doing something to us. The best starting point for that process therefore remain the Word, rather than with my own grubby little desires.
As we see with Jonah, can you find your own voice in Scripture?