As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you. Jonah 2:7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Anxiety is common for many of us. There are so many things that we worry about, from minor annoyances like traffic jams, to serious health and financial concerns. Not much we experience compares with what Jonah is going through. Here he is, fleeing from what he knows God wants him to do, when a storm arises. He ends up being tossed overboard and swallowed by a big fish. Now, in the belly of the fish, it occurs to him that his life is probably at an end.

He could lay there and just worry about this. However, he has realized what he has done in rejecting God’s will, and “remembered the Lord.” Time to turn to prayer – something he might have remembered to do all along. All of Jonah chapter 2 is his prayer, as the first verse says: “From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.” God hears the prayer; the fish vomits Jonah onto dry land to continue his journey to Nineveh.

Then we read what Paul writes – don’t be anxious about anything! That sounds hard. Ask any student who is currently taking finals before graduation, then job hunting. Or someone with a serious illness in their family. How to handle this anxiety? Prayer along with thanksgiving! We need to thank God, even when that seems hard, as we pray for help. As we pray the truth of what we, like Jonah, have done or not done. If God hears a prayer from inside a fish, from someone who totally was running from God’s will for him, He certainly will hear our thankful prayers.

Almighty God, we find so many reasons to be anxious. Forgive us. Awaken us to your promise that you will hear our every request and respond to our every need. When things are dark, help us remember that you are as near as an open heart and heartfelt prayer. Thank you for your presence in our lives, and the confidence that we will find in you grace and strength sufficient for our need. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Chris Gabel