Have you ever been witness to a “prayer request” gone awry? You don’t even see it coming, you’re just catching up with your friend, or maybe you’re gathered with others for a Bible study or home group when you realize someone is sharing a prayer request (maybe it’s you!) that goes a little too far. It just starts to get whiny, complain-ey and you’re thinking to yourself “How did we get here? This is a prayer request?”
I cannot tell you how many times in my own walk with the Lord I have been guilty of this. I start out with good intentions, I really want to avoid gossiping about a situation that’s been on my mind so instead I decide to “innocently” vent to a girlfriend, asking her to pray with me. Quickly my request of her to “pray for me, I’m struggling to have a calm spirit with my husband” turns into my offering up to her all the reasons why I should have every right to lose my temper with my husband! This is not only bad for me, but now I’m encouraging her to get right in there with me! As we toss around all the bad things about my husband–instead of praying for God to change me–we end up trying to be his Holy Spirit, finding all the things wrong with him and presenting them to God!
Linda Dillow broaches this very topic in her book “What’s it Like to be Married to Me?”. And I assure you, this is something that all women do, not just married women. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul reminds the people of the past sins of the Israelites, sins to bear in mind to not repeat; things like idolatry, sexual immorality and (gulp!) grumbling! In verse 12 Paul writes “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
Why is this such a big deal? Life is going to continue to have troubles and challenging situations and people. Our grumbling, or “innocently” misusing prayer time as venting time is going to seriously impact what we gain in understanding and strength through those trials of life. Well then, what can we do? David lays it out for us in Psalm 142. “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble.”
But why? Why does God need to know? Doesn’t He already know?? Well, yes He does. But that’s not the point. The point is to get the whining and complaints off of you and put that on His strong shoulders. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever share with someone what is troubling you. There’s a difference between earnestly asking another believer for prayer, and dumping a truck of your complaints on others.
If you realize you’re struggling with a whining, grumbling spirit then it’s a great idea to pick a mentor to confide in, tell them you need to grow in this area and ask them for wisdom and accountability. Considering how deep of a pitfall this problem is for women, I commend you for seeking growth past it!
Originally published in the Winter 2011/2012 Real Women Real Life
Oak Creek Assembly of God Women’s Ministry Newsletter