Greg's Blog

Go Ahead and Complain—to God, in Prayer

by Greg Laurie on Oct 2, 2020

Awhile back I watched a special on the history of country music. I couldn’t help but notice how many of the songs have the most interesting titles.

For example, there’s “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft),” which I would call a modern song of lamentation. Then we have “How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody but Me?” And then there’s Hank Williams song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

The psalmist had his own country song, so to speak: “Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever. Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24 NLT).

Prayer isn’t only petition, although it includes that. It isn’t just worship, although it includes that as well. Prayer also can be complaining, like we see in this psalm.

The psalmist was being honest with God. He was saying, in effect, “Lord, honestly it seems as though you’re asleep right now. It seems like you’re not paying attention. Wake up, Lord! Hear our cry!”

It isn’t always a bad thing to complain to God or to bring your concerns, questions, pain, and sadness to Him.

Even Jesus cried out as He hung on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV). Some would suggest that Jesus was having a crisis of faith. But actually, it was the opposite.

It was the moment when He was dying for the sins of the world, and He simply was describing what was happening. God the Father had turned away His holy face and poured the sin of all humanity on Jesus Christ, who never committed a single sin. So Jesus cried out in anguish. He was forsaken so that we could be forgiven.

Jesus cried out to the Father, and you can do the same thing when you’re in pain. When you’re hurting, you should pray. When you’re happy, you should pray. And you should also pray when you’re sad.

You should pray when you’re confused, and you should pray when you have complaints. The Bible says, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises” (James 5:13 NLT).

Have you ever been in what seemed like an impossible situation with no way out? Have you ever desperately needed (or even wanted) something, but it appeared as though there was no way you would ever have it?

Have you ever thought there was no future for you and that it was just too late?

If so, then you need to know more about the power of God and what can take place through prayer.

One thing that stands out in the pages of Scripture is that prayer can dramatically change situations, people and, on occasion, even the course of nature itself. But what prayer changes the most is you and me.

God allows hardship and difficulties in our lives so He can reveal Himself and put His power and glory on display for those who are watching. When we pray, we’re acknowledging our weakness and our need for God’s help.

Maybe that’s the reason we don’t pray as much as we ought to. Prayer is an admission of weakness on our part, and some people don’t like to admit they have a need.

The strongest man who ever lived was Jesus Christ Himself, and we read repeatedly in the Gospels that Jesus prayed—and He prayed a lot. He would spend the night in prayer. He would rise up early while the disciples were still sleeping and pray. And as the Crucifixion approached, He turned to the Father in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Bible tells us that “while Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God” (Hebrews 5:7 NLT). Notice the phrase “with a loud cry and tears.” There’s a place for that, too, in prayer.

So if Jesus, who is God, prayed a lot, then undoubtedly we need to pray a lot too.

God is deeply involved and deeply concerned about what you’re facing right now. If it concerns you, then it concerns Him. But we also need to recognize that prayer is getting God’s will on earth, not our will in Heaven.

In His model for prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to begin this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10 NKJV).

Sometimes I hear people say they’ve been wrestling with God in prayer. Well, I hope they’re losing, because prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind. In many cases, it’s about changing ours.

We need to pray about everything. And we need to get into a habit of prayer, a lifestyle of prayer.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

So cry out to God in your sorrow and pain. Call on Him for His provision, His protection, and His guidance. And then give thanks to the Lord.

Sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives to remind us that He’s the provider and that we need to come to Him every day—not just to ask for things, but to give Him the glory for what He has already done.

Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.

This article was originally published at


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