Agonizomai: Jonah 1:6 - Desperate Prayer

Friday, December 30, 2005

Jonah 1:6 - Desperate Prayer
6 So the captain came and said to him, "What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we do not perish."

Belief in a god, or even in the God is not enough by itself. That belief must be worked out through the obedience of faith. A faith that simply believes is as useless as a faith that simply acts in order to gain approval. Deeds wrought in and unto God spring from a lively (living) faith, but deeds alone can never lead to one.

The captain is desperate, though the captain has no faith in the One True God. Any so-called god that can save his bacon is alright with him, no matter what that god is like. God as a solution to a short-term problem – such as the many storms that invade our lives – such a god is consumed upon our own lusts, emotions and fears. It is made to be about us. It is about us getting what we want from God in the present moment, so that we can go back to living as we please. This is a worldly view of God. It is a view often encouraged by the preaching in our churches.

Should we not then pray in time of need or danger? Of course we should! Jesus did. But what did He say? "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not my will but thine be done". It is not solely about us. It is about God and His purposes. Do we seek God’s purposes in those things that come upon us which we would rather not endure? Or do we simply view God as the means of delivering us from that thing? Are we ready to be delivered through it, or are we only content to be delivered from it? Will we pray "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven?"

The heathen captain cannot possibly arrive at such understanding apart from the grace of God. But the wonder is this – that God often answers the prayers of the heathen, even when prayed with a wrong heart. Such mercy and grace! God’s causes His rain to fall upon the just and the unjust alike. His common grace reaches all men, and that grace will sometimes extend to their deliverance in dire situations. But that deliverance must never be mistaken for anything other than a call to repentance – for them to behold the kindness of God. Alas, we know from the long history of humanity, of Israel, and even of we in the church that His mercies are so often taken for granted and are forgotten as soon as the moment has passed. Let’s ask for grace not to do that any more.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans


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