In my distress I call out to you LORD, and I know you will answer me.
From the depths of the grave I call for your help and I know you hear my cry.
I am in the deep, in the very heart of the seas, and the currents are swirling around me; all your waves and breakers are sweeping over me.I know I have been banished from your sight; yet I focus again toward your holy temple.
The engulfing waters threaten me, the deep surrounds me; seaweed wraps around my head.
I sink down to the root of the mountains; the earth has barred me in forever.
But you have brought my life up from the pit, O LORD, my God.
My life is ebbing away, but I remember you LORD, and my prayer rises to you, to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I will sacrifice to you with a song of thanksgiving.
And what I have promised in my heart and mind to you LORD I will make good, for I know that Salvation comes from you LORD.

v. 10 - "And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land."

*Be sure to read the original tense (past) and text.
*I wrote this in the present tense because the book was written after Jonah had returned from his mission and had time to reflect on its significance and I wondered what it would sound/read like if he or we were in the great fish now.

I don't know if you have ever been in the situation Jonah was in, to pray such a prayer, but I'm sure others can testify to the urgency and direness.  I have not, nor do I know anyone who has been swallowed by a "great fish" in order to be humbled and brought into God's obedience.  That does not mean it did not happen to Jonah and could not happen to anyone else.  However, there are some awesome take-aways from this prayer and Jonah's story.

Have you ever been in distress and called out to the LORD?  I know I have.  I don't know if I have ever been near death and prayed for God to hear me, but I have been extremely sick and experienced His healing.  

Physically, I have not tasted the roaring of the waves that Jonah describes, but I feel sure a lot of us have felt the "breakers" of financial hardship, relational difficulties, and habitual strongholds to crash again and again against our lives.  I know I have.

Out at a lake some years ago I actually came very close to drowning, therefore the sinking "down to the root of the mountains" was real in that respect for me.  However, for me and for many other people I have also experienced another "sinking down" - attacks of depression.  Jonah speaks of the physical "engulfing waters", "the deep surrounds", "his life ebbing away" - but he always returns his focus to God and God's location, His "holy temple". 

Not only does Jonah have amazing focus, but he sings a song of thanksgiving in the midst of his trial and recognizes where his salvation will come from should the LORD decide to still use him.

Those were some points pulled from Jonah's prayer.  Now allow for some observations from the book as a whole.

The shipmates tried their best to save him (1:12).  They even made sure that should they throw Jonah overboard, they would not be held accountable by the LORD (v.14).

Can we really run from God?  Immediately my favorite Psalm comes to mind - Psalm 139.  In particular verses 7 through 12 really jump out at me here.  "Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?..."  Here was a good case of delayed obedience (my own term here).  This is down and out disobedience on our part while God disciplines us to the point of alignment with His will/plan for our lives. Notice how God stuck with Jonah for this task.  God could have called on another person, maybe someone with a more willing heart or prepared mindset, but God really wanted Jonah for His plan for Ninevah and desired Jonah to go through this personally in order to mature in the LORD too.

There seems to be some stages that might be observed here.  One, God and His message is heard.  Jonah and the rest of us might acknowledge that, yes, who we heard was God and His message lines up with His character.  Stage two, unfortunately is the time when we reject God and His message, disobey Him or try to do it our way (i.e. Abraham and Hagar).  The third stage is God choosing to discipline you, shape and mold you to the point He can use you.  In Jonah's case, God humbled him so that he could be used for the original purpose, in the original destination - Ninevah.  However, I personally believe that God could have humbled Jonah, have the great fish spit him up on the shore of Tarshish (where Jonah wanted to go in the first place) and use him there.  However, that is not what happened.  All these stages are not necessary if we would just do for God what I have heard my mom say to me and my brother many times - "well, if you would have done what I told you to do the first time, this would not have happened."

Even after Jonah obeys God's will concerning delivering His word to Ninevah, Jonah's will clashes with God's. Jonah is not pleased with the outcome and goes as far as to be angry with God because he knew that God was going to respond this way from the beginning. AND YET, God loves Jonah enough that He teaches Jonah - "have you any right to be angry?", does it do you any good to be angry at how I, God Almighty, choose to have events play out? God then proceeds to grant Jonah a Job Experience (I can give and I can take away whenever) by planting a vine that provides shade and then taking it away later with a worm, which left him in a "scorching east wind" that the LORD also provided (Jonah 4).

What a God that allows us, as children unto a Father, to work out our limited understandings, our shortcomings, our misplaced anger, our delayed disobedience, and so forth - instead of zapping us out of existence (some people's temperament, but not my God's).  "Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God's grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin." (Marvelous Grace)  This is not to be taken advantage of and for some that continue to reject the grace provided through Jesus, even unto death, they will be left with "gentleman's choice" - their own way.