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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Complaining or Groaning

"We're human beings, not human doings."
~ Doug Spurling

Complaining or Groaning?

Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused.
~ Numbers 11:1 (NKJV)

... but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
~ Romans 8:26 (NKJV)

It appears all was going well for the Israelites at this point. No war, no famine—no challenges? Perhaps they took for granted their freedom from harsh bondage, and the Lord’s provision and protection, and started whining about lesser blessings they thought they had coming.

Whatever their circumstances, the people complained without cause, and angered the Lord.

Moses, on the other hand, had a real problem. We aren’t told his tone of voice, but his words seem to complain plenty. (His entire prayer is in Numbers 11:11-15.) He sounds downright accusatory against God:

So Moses said to the LORD, "Why have You afflicted Your servant? ... the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now ...!" (Numbers 11:11,15 NKJV)

Yet the Lord responds to Moses' groanings with aid, not rebuke. Moses is so overwhelmed he doesn’t want to go on. And there is something in Moses’ heart which the Lord accepts.

Words do have power. But experts in communication assert that only 7% of what we communicate comes through in words themselves. 38% is in tone of voice, and a whopping 55% is in non-verbal cues such as facial expression and posture.

In prayer, words give substance to our communication—for our sake. God Himself hears the heart. He is not swayed by us saying or doing the right thing. His own heart is moved because we are being in relationship with Him.

Oh Father in Heaven, You know our hearts and understand well that we come to the place of being too spent to pray as we ought. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to bring before Your throne prayers You receive. Please make our hearts one with Your Own.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I've tried all the saying and the doing to sway the Lord. I'm so content now with trusting Jesus. No point in spoiling my joy for eternity with creature comforts and the like, now. There is a point to all this madness and if I don't see it in my lifetime, I'll see it clearly at the end of this very long day (I hope) ;)

  2. Hey Anne, today I'll focus on the posture of my heart. ...Father, command my heart to submit to Your will, submit to love and mercy...

  3. That was a perfect prayer for today. Thank you.

  4. T. Anne, I'm always glad to get a little perspective on the madness now. When we finally get the full perspective, we'll laugh at ourselves, I'm sure.

    Russell, you read between the lines well about the "posture" of the heart. I'm smiling.

    Cindy, it's a prayer I've prayed more frequently than I'd like but not nearly as often as I ought.

  5. I can think of several specific times in my life when day after day the Spirit groaned for me.
    I appreciate a God who can take whatever I say and in whatever form and a God who is teaching me to sound more like Him, no matter how many times I fail at it.
    ~ Wendy

  6. Moses' prayer was a typical outburst of a man burdened with leading others. Most pastors and ministry leaders could identify with his tone. Not that they are complaining to God; they're simply unloading a burden that few people around them could understand. It's a kind of prayer that ends with surrender. I don't know how else to explain it but I don't think it's a "rebellious" prayer. Am I making any sense here? lol

  7. ... a God who is teaching me to sound more like Him ...

    Wendy, that's beautiful! I've thought often that I want to sound more Christlike when I talk to others, I pray Scripture, but hadn't really thought that I want God's "voice" when I pray. Thank you!

    Jojo, I hadn't thought about ministry leaders in particular. I agree that they bear a burden of which the flock isn't aware. And you make perfect sense. I like the idea that Moses' prayer's ends with words which sound like resignation but are actually surrender. It's a subtle but critical distinction. Thanks!

  8. The powerful stuffs Moses accomplishes under God's power raise up our faith! But the humanness of Moses comforts us and connects with us.

  9. I praise Him for taking the time to listen to little ole me. I love You Lord.

  10. Bible Lover, I agree that Moses' prayer is as human as it gets. How encouraging to know that such a great leader had such a groaning.

    Denise, the wonderful thing is that it doesn't take Him any time at all because He's God. :D

  11. Romans 8:26 never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

  12. It is indeed moving to think that the Spirit is within us, experiencing our pain, groaning out what we can't even put into words.


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