Monday, October 11, 2010

Prayer - Complaining

This is the last post from my Bible Study teaching on prayer and it is the most shocking. It will sound heretical at first but truly you will find this type of prayer all over the Bible. I would build up the suspense more but I think the post title sort of gave it away.

In our world, our country and our culture, we are supposed to be optimistic hard workers who never complain. We are not supposed to moan to God or complain about our circumstances. At least that is what we have been taught. I am certainly teaching my boys not to whine about things they cannot change and definitely not to whine about things they can. Just do it is the motto of our society. If you don't like it, don't complain about it, change it. As JI Packer and Carolyn Nystrom teach in their book "Praying; Finding our Way Through Duty to Delight" complaining is meant to be part of our prayers.

When we look through the prayers of the Bible, we see complaints throughout.
But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:16-17

Job, a man so faithful that God allowed Satan to test him, had every reason to complain before God. And he did. Chapter 10 of Job is full of his complaints.

I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint.
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul...

Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?...

Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you have destroyed me altogether.

Why did you bring me out of the womb?...

Packer and Nystrom write, "Is this the same Job that God described to Satan as "my servant, ... a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil" (Job 1:8). Yes, but this is Job distraught by grief and human pain, goaded to despair by his well meaning friends, speaking his words of complaint to the safest possible source: God."

We have very real hurts and frustrations. Very real pain and complaint. Moaning and yes, even whining, that we need to take before God because we cannot be real with God if we hide our pain from Him. We cannot be real if we hide our frustrations. We cannot be real if we hide our hurts, even the ones we think He caused us. The safest place to take our complaints is God. He has our best interests in mind. He will not lead us astray. He will hold us tight when we turn to Him.

Job cried out to God asking for answers. Read Job 38 - 42 when you have a minute. It is powerful stuff. It is God's answer to Job. My favorite part is when God asks, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?" Those four chapters remind me every time I read them that God is God. He is the creator and I am His creation. But it also shows me that God listens to His children's complaints and hears us.

"Those who have read the end of Job's book will know that God did indeed meet with Job as Job had invited him to do. But explanations are lacking even then; God does not need to explain. Still, he responded to Job's complaing - and Job was content." (Packer & Nystrom)

That is it. This is the end of my prayer series I taught at Bible study at my church. Now back to our previously scheduled programming.

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