Summary: A repentant believer’s prayer gets God’s attention.
I The first set of players is a repentant people who are praying prayers that do get answered.
1 Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the great fish & Nineveh’s prayer in the face of great destruction.
a Jonah spent 3 days praying for himself. (He says I, my, me 24 times in 8 verses of chapter 2)
aa He was in rebellion after God’s word, fleeing God’s presence.
bb God showed justice/disciple by sending a great wind, showed mercy by not letting him drown in the great storm, showed deliverance when the great fish vomited him on the shore.
cc Jonah went to the great city with a great commission, and there was a great revival.
b Nineveh prayed for themselves too. (2: 8,9)
aa Fasted to seeks God’s mercy, Sackcloth was a symbol of sorrow over sin.
bb They turned from their wicked ways (change of behavior, lived differently)
cc Cried out to God to show mercy . . . & He did! (No destruction in 40 days)
2 For our prayers to gather a similar efficiency to that of the Ninevites and Jonah’s prayers, they must come from a repentant heart.
a Remorse of sin (Sorrow, guilt, anguish . . . a sackcloth moment.)
b Removal of sin (Behavior change, lifestyle alteration, turning)
c Request for mercy (God withhold justice, wrath, discipline, wind, storm, . . . a fasting moment)
d "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." -James 5:16b
aa I believe the reason why many of our prayers are "ineffective" is we’re praying out of rebellion, not repentance.
bb We want mercy w/o the sackcloth; God’s touch but we’re not going to turn.
cc The reason the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much is because their right with God.
3 Think of a husband and wife in a car, the wife tells her husband to turn right at the next junction and by mistake, he turns left.
a When he realizes what he has done, he says to his wife "I’m sorry love, I went the wrong way."
b But if that is all he does, it isn’t enough. His saying sorry isn’t getting them any closer to where they want to be; it isn’t even stopping them getting further away.
c To get where they want to be, he needs to stop the car, turn it around and go back on to the correct road that his wife told him to take in the first place.
d That is repentance.
II The second player is a Holy God who repents because of the prayers of a repentant people. (Jonah 3:10) (NIV: Compassion, KJV/RSV: Repented, NRSV: changed His mind)
1 God tells Nineveh (2.4) that He is going to overthrow (destroy) them in 40 days.
a Nineveh repents, cries out (v. 9), "And God did not do it." (v. 10)
b God changed His mind!
aa So what about 1 Samual 15: 29 "And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind."
bb BUT HE DID!!!
2 Scripture is NOT SHY in telling us that God does change His mind when it comes to giving compassion when His justice/righteousness requires death. (Romans 6:23)
a Exodus 32:7-10, After the Exodus, God decided to wipe out the Hebrews because they made a golden calf and credited the calf for deliverance out of Egypt. (Exod. 32:14)
aa 7 "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 "Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. 11 "So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ’Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."’ Jer 18:7-11 (NASB)
bb 2 "Thus says the LORD, ’Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak to all the cities of Judah who have come to worship in the LORD’S house all the words that I have commanded you to speak to them. Do not omit a word! 3 ’Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.’ Jer 26:2-3 (NASB)