Family Devotion Guide
Sunday, September 20, 2020
A Prayer of Repentance
What Is Repentance?
Parents, ask your children, “What is repentance?”
Repentance means a change of mind and heart. In the Old Testament, repentance is denoted by a picture word which means “to return, to go back along the path on which you came.” The great New Testament illustration is the Prodigal Son painfully making his way back home along the very paths on which he had lightly skipped to the far country. In a similar way, Jonah is the Old Testament Prodigal. He must return from his far country.
Four Characteristics of True Repentance
Parents, ask your children, “What are the four characteristics of true repentance illustrated in Jonah’s prayer?”
1. Jonah acknowledged his sins (vv.1-6).
There was a fatal flaw in Jonah’s character, and it had laid hidden from him as long as his life was going well. It was only through complete failure that he could begin to see it and change it. It was out of the lowest part of his sin and disobedience that Jonah cried out to God. He cried out from the depths. He not only cried out from the depths, but those depths brought him to distress. Take a look at verse 2:
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.”
–Jonah 2:2 (ESV)
Jonah perhaps remembered the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 130:1–3.
“1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?”
–Psalm 130:1-3 (ESV)
God loves us so much that He is always trying to refine us. He takes us through His refinement where He reveals the sins that are hidden in us so that we may kill them. Jonah was prideful, and self-reliant. God wanted Jonah to be humble and dependent on Him.
2. Jonah confessed his sins (vv.6-8).
Parents, ask your children to define confession.
Confession is agreeing with God at what He has already said.
What are the two ways by which Jonah confessed?
First, he acknowledged that everything that had happened to him, while caused by God, was nevertheless his own fault. He deserved it.
Second, in his confession, he did not ask God for anything. Jonah had no ulterior motive. He simply cast himself at the mercy of God.
3. Jonah was thankful (v.9a).
Jonah was not thankful that God had delivered him from the fish because God had not yet delivered him. He was not thankful that God was going to deliver him, because he had no idea that God was going to do it. What he was thankful for was that God had turned him from rebellion and had caused him to call on the name of the Lord once again. He was thankful for salvation. He was thankful for the abiding grace of God. Jonah was thankful for the most important thing in life and that was the presence of God and fellowship with God.
4. Jonah was ready to serve God again (v.9b).
—Pray that God would lead you to acknowledge your sins when you sin against Him.
—Pray that God would lead you to confess your sins.
—Pray that you would have a heart of thanksgiving toward God.
—Pray that you would desire to serve God after you are restored.