Jonah’s Prayer

Jonah or Jonas is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BCE. He is the eponymous central figure of the Book of Jonah, in which he is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents of impending divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish. Caught in a storm, he orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard, whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction. God shields Jonah from the sun with a plant, but later sends a worm to cause it to wither. When Jonah complains of the bitter heat, God rebukes him.

See also: Prophet Jonah

We have collected some of the best prayers of Prophet Jonah to use in request to God. May these prayers for safety bring you comfort and peace of mind. May these prayers for strength encourage your spirit and strengthen your faith.

Photograph of a whale shark, the largest known species of fish

Photograph of a whale shark, the largest known species of fish

God spoke to Jonah and instructed him,

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2)

But Jonah, in order to flee from the Lord, ran off and found a ship to Tarshish. Consequently the Lord caused a great tempest in the sea. Those on board the ship with him were frantic. They confronted Jonah and asked him why this was happening. Jonah replied,

“And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9)

The men on the ship then realized that the problem was Jonah so they threw him in the sea and the storm immediately subsided. The Lord at that time summoned a great fish, which swallowed him. Jonah prayed to the Lord God from the fish’s belly.

Jonah’s Prayer from Inside the Fish

Jonah Jonah 2:2-9

2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[a]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

Footnotes:

Jonah 2:5 Or waters were at my throat

The scriptures then describe how the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out on the dry land. Jonah was finally persuaded. He went into Nineveh and preached to the people. His preaching was so good and effective that the whole city repented. God accepted their repentance and did not destroy the city. But, instead of being pleased it appears Jonah felt like a fool because God didn’t do what Jonah had told the people of Nineveh he was going to do, destroy the city. He was so offended that he wanted to die and he went off alone to pout.

Jonah’s Prayer after Nineveh was spared

“And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2-3)

God’s Answer to Jonah’s prayer

“Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)

Jonah and the giant fish in the Jami' al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jonah and the giant fish in the Jami’ al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Prophet Jonah’s Prayer

From the Quran

The supplication of Prophet Jonah is a most powerful supplication, a most effective means for obtaining answer to prayer. The summary of the celebrated story of Jonah is as follows:

He was cast into the sea and swallowed by a large fish. The sea was stormy, the night turbulent and dark, and hope exhausted. But it was while he was in such a situation that his supplication,

“There is no god other than You, Glory be unto You! Indeed, I was among the wrongdoers ( 21:87 ),

acted for him as a swift means of salvation. The secret of his supplication’s power was, in that situation all causes were suspended, for Jonah needed to save him one whose command should constrain the whale and the sea, and the night and the sky. The night, the sea, and the whale were united against him. Only one whose command might subdue all three of these could bring him forth on the strand of salvation. Even if the entirety of creation had become his servants and helpers, it would have been of no avail. So causes have no effect. Since Jonah saw with the eye of certainty that there was no refuge other than the Creator of Causes, and unfolded to him was the meaning of Divine Oneness within the light of Divine Unity, his supplication was able suddenly to subdue the night, the sea, and the whale. Through the light of Divine Unity he was able to transform the belly of the whale into a submarine; and the surging sea, which in its awesomeness resembled an erupting volcano, into a peaceable plain, a pleasant place of excursion. Through the light of Unity, he was able to sweep the sky’s countenance clear of all clouds, and to set the moon over his head like a lantern. Creation that had been pressing and threatening him from all sides now showed him a friendly face from every direction. Thus he reached the shore of salvation, where beneath the creeping-gourd tree he observed this favour of his Sustainer.

Now we are in a situation one hundred times more awesome than that in which Jonah first found himself. Our night is the future. When we look upon our future with the eye of neglect, it is a hundred times darker and more fearful than his night. Our sea is this spinning globe. Each wave of this sea bears on it thousands of corpses, and is thus a thousand times more frightening than his sea. Our fish is the caprice of our soul, which strives to shake and destroy the foundation of our eternal life. This fish is a thousand times more maleficent than his. For his fish could destroy a hundred-year life span, whereas ours seeks to destroy a life lasting hundreds of millions of years. This being our true state, we should in imitation of avert ourselves from all causes and take refuge directly in the Creator of Causes, that is, our Sustainer. We should say,

“There is no god but You, Glory be unto You! Indeed I was among the wrongdoers”,

and understand with full certainty that it is only He who can repel from us the harm of the future, this world, and caprice of our souls, united against us because of our neglect and misguidance. For the future is subject to His command, the world to His jurisdiction, and our soul to His direction.

What cause is there other than the Creator of the Heavens and Earth who can know the most subtle and secret thoughts of our heart; who can lighten the future for us by establishing the Hereafter; who can save us from the myriad overwhelming waves of the world? None, outside that Necessarily Existent One, there is nothing that can in any way give aid and effect salvation except by His consent and command.

This being the case, considering that as a result of his supplication, the whale became for Jonah a vehicle, or a submarine, and the sea, a peaceable plain; and the night became gently lit for him by the moon. So too, we should make the same supplication,

“There is no god but You, Glory be unto You! Indeed I was among the wrongdoers.”

With the sentence “There is no god but You” we draw the gaze of mercy upon our future; with the word “Glory be unto You!” we draw it upon our world; and with the phrase “Indeed I was among the wrongdoers,” we draw it upon our soul. Thus our future is illumined with the light of belief and the moonlike luminosity of the Holy Book, and the awe and terror of the night are transformed into tranquillity and joy. Then too, embarking on the ship of the truth of faith, fashioned in the dockyard of the Most Wise Book, we may pass safely over the sea of this earthly abode, which through the alternation of life and death is boarded by corpses unnumbered, borne on the waves of the years and centuries, and cast into nothingness. Once aboard that ship we may reach the shore of salvation and fulfil our life’s duty. The tempest and surging of the sea will appear a series of pleasing images on a screen, and instead of inspiring terror and dread, will delight, caress and illumine the reflective and the meditative gaze. By virtue of the mystery of the Wise Book, and the effect of that Criterion of Truth and Falsehood, our soul will ride no longer us, but instead become our mount. As we ride it, it will be for us a powerful means for the attainment of life everlasting.

In Short: Man, in accordance with the comprehensive nature of his being, as he suffers and shakes with malaria, so also he suffers from the shaking and tremors of the earth, and the supreme convulsion of all beings of the Day of Resurrection. As he fears the infinitesimal microbe, he also fears the shooting star that appears among the heavenly bodies. As he loves his home, he also loves the wide world. As he loves his little garden, he also ardently loves infinite and eternal paradise. Man’s object of worship, Sustainer, refuge, savior, and goal then can only be the One in the grasp of Whose power is the whole universe, under Whose command are both atom and planet. Man should therefore constantly say like,

“There is no god but You, Glory be unto You! Indeed I was among the wrongdoers.”