Bible Readings and Devotion for March 31, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for March 31, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
We are in our second day of reading through Jonah, along with our other Bible readings. As I was praying through and pondering what to share in today’s devotion I looked back on my life of faith. One of the events of my faith growth was my attendance at the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Missions conference Urbana 87. I was an active participant in the ministry of InterVarsity while a student at college. The Urbana Missions Conference has been a triennial event to encourage missionary service among young Christians from around North America. It is now held in other locations. This was held just after Christmas in 1987 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Along with dozens of other students from Texas we rode a bus up to the Illinois for this special event.
At that conference the theme was centered in the teachings of the book of Jonah and the call to mission in and to cities. A major teaching which was shared at the event was by a Christian leader and Bible teacher from Sri Lanka named Ajith Fernando.
The teaching from Jonah caught my spirit in a powerful way that week. Ever since then I have invested more into understanding this short book of God’s. Another resource in my understanding of Jonah has been the writings of Pastor Eugene H. Peterson, especially his book on pastoral ministry, “Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness”.
Looking at chapter two of Jonah today we see that it is unique. It takes place as Jonah is in the belly of the giant fish. During that time Jonah is moved to pray to the Lord. The prayer of Jonah is reported in this section of the book. In looking through this prayer you will notice that it is essentially quoting the Psalms. This is not an accident. As a prophet of the Lord Jonah was familiar with God’s Holy Word. In that Holy Word is the prayer book of the Israelites – The Psalms. This is how they learned to pray. They prayed the psalms, and that wording gave them words, ideas, phrases, etc. to use in their ongoing connection with the Lord.
In some study a few years ago I put together this short chart of likely verses which influenced the prayer of Jonah. Each of these are from the Psalms. You are invited to take some time to look through each of these in comparison to Jonah’s prayer.
Jonah’s Prayer and the Psalms
Vs 2 Psalm 3:4 120:1 118:5
Vs 3 Psalm 86:6-7 Psalm 42:7
Vs 4 Psalm 31:22
Vs 5 Psalm 69:1
Vs 6 Psalm 40:1-2
Vs 7 Psalm 5:7
Vs 8 Psalm 31:6
Vs 9 Psalm 50:14
Our opportunity in faith is to use the psalms as part of our school of prayer. Of course, the Lord’s Prayer and the New Testament letters are great for this as well. In our daily readings we are using right now we always have at least one psalm. Our Sunday readings in worship always include a psalm or a psalm like prayer from the rest of scripture. Many of the prophetic words which point to Jesus are from the Psalms. The Psalms are always relevant because these teach us how to pray and guide us toward a closer connection with God. Jonah learned from the Psalms, and so can we.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Guide us by your Holy Word and teach us to pray in your way. We pray this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.