Think all prayers should be lofty? Think prayers should be just praise and thanksgiving? Think your prayers should only contain positive thoughts? Think again.
A complaint can be a prayer. Take a look at the Psalms. There are 150 of them in the Bible and they are full of every sort of whining, kvetching, envying, self-justifying imaginable.
This should be welcome news to you. It is to me. I was just reading Psalm 73 about envying the rich and proud who seem to have it all and never make any pretence to believe in God. I knew the sentiments precisely.
I’ve been there.
The psalms are models for prayer and a perfect reminder that God hears us all the time, not just when we’re happy, not just when we’re saintly and holy, but when we’re angry and peevish.
I once met a man, a minister in fact, who didn’t pray for a whole year because he was so angry at God because of his daughter’s chronic illness.
It was a friend who set him right. “If you’re angry with me, I’d want you to tell me,” the friend said. “The same is true of God.”
That good man started talking to God again, but it wasn’t all sweetness and light. It was anger and complaint. It wasn’t pretty but it was honest and that was what was important.
Be honest in prayer. That’s what counts the most. I do believe that God can help us when we’re angry or lonely or sad or envious or small-minded. But how can God know if we don’t say anything, if we hold it all inside?
Here are three Bible verses to get you inspired. If you’ve got any complaints, give them to God.
- “I cry out loud for help from the Lord. I beg out loud for mercy from the Lord…No one pays attention to me. There’s no escape for me. No one cares about my life.” (Psalm 142:1,4)
- “Does it seem good to you that you oppress me, that you reject the work of your hands and cause the purpose of sinners to shine?”(Job 10:3)
- “Listen to me when I complain, God!” (Psalm 64:1)