How I Stopped Complaining
Updated: Sep 23, 2018
From the moment we started having kids, I knew I did NOT want them to be whiny. . . who does? But as they got bigger, I started hearing phrases like, Mom, I’m bored. . . Mom, I’m thirsty. Mom, I’m hungry. . .
Mom, Mom, MOM!”
Complaints! Not fun at ALL.
So one day I said, “Kids, I’m not going to answer your complaints; but, I’ll answer your requests. Don’t complain about what you lack, just ask me for what you need. I’ll be right there to help you.”
I’ll have to admit, this was pretty radical parenting. Apart from bleeding knees and emergencies, when my kids complained, I would simply NOT act. I would respond with something like, “Mom doesn’t respond to complaints. . .can you please turn your complaint into a request?”
Though it took LOTS of friendly (and not so friendly) reminders, my children began to understand the difference.
Complaints vs. Requests.
Statements like, “I’m hungry!” turned into, “May I have something to eat?”
“I’m bored!” became, “Can someone come over to play?”
Good parenting idea, right? But the lesson wasn’t over. . . It was now my turn.
In my own life, I had been frustrated by a lack of God’s movement. I needed direction, and I felt discouraged by His seeming distance. I would pray, yet felt so powerless. I knew better than to run from God, so I turned to a familiar verse to comfort my anxious heart.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Present your requests to God. Had that always been there?
In that moment, I realized what I had called praying was in fact complaining to God about what was wrong: I was saying phrase like, “God, I’m frustrated. God, I’m tired. God, I don’t know what to do.”
But Philippians 4:6 says, “Present your REQUESTS.”
Then I thought: What can God do with my complaints? Nothing.
How much faith does it take to complain? None.
But wait. Wasn’t this the very lesson I had been teaching my own children? “Kids, don’t complain about what you lack! Just ASK me for what you need. I’ll be right there to help you.” Yet these words contained the very message God was whispering into my ear. In that moment, I knew it was time to stop complaining and start asking. . . .and with that small change my prayers were charged with His Spirit and faith!
What I know from His Word (and continue learning through life) is that God is moved by and pleased with my FAITH (Hebrews 11:6) . . .and a faith-filled prayer acknowledges God as the source of provision and moves me to ASK Him for what I need.
Prayer is an expectant ASKING for what we need, not a faithless recounting of COMPLAINTS. Faith trusts and thereby rests in God’s loving character. . . knowing that He will answer my request in His perfect way and in His perfect time.
Today, ask yourself: Have my prayers been limited to complaints? Do I only tell God my problems? How different would my prayers (and my life!!) be if I stopped complaining, acknowledged Him as the source, and asked Him for what I need?
Our Father longs to give good things to those who ASK (Matt. 7:11). So ASK, and keep asking (Matt. 7:7) and present your requests to God!