Prayer of Frustration

God’s Complaint Department

Moses said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? … You have not rescued your people at all.” Exodus 5:22–23

Moses and Aaron obeyed God. They delivered God’s message to Pharaoh: “Let my people go” (Exodus 5:1). But instead of freeing the Israelites, Pharaoh made them work harder. The Israelites turned against Moses and Aaron, basically saying, “ We hope God heaps trouble on you because you haven’t helped us at all. You’ve only made things worse” (vv. 21­–22).

What’s going on, Lord?

Not the result Moses and Aaron expected when they agreed to be God’s servants. God had promised to help Moses succeed (see Exodus 3). Rejection and false accusations hadn’t been part of the agreement—at least not from Moses’s perspective. So is it any wonder he complained to God?

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. You spoke God’s truth, but people rejected it. You tried to serve others, but they accused you of wrongdoing. So, like Moses, you went to God and said, “What’s going on here? This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Moses’s frustration and complaint don’t surprise me. I probably would’ve reacted the same way. What surprises me is that God didn’t whack Moses on the side of his head with his shepherd’s staff. Instead, our gracious God reaffirmed his promises: Pharaoh will let the Israelites go (6:1); I will honor my covenant (6:5); the Israelites are my people, and I will give them the land I promised to Abraham (6:7–8).

We may assume it’s better not to pray when we’re frustrated, angry, or disappointed. But God already knows how we feel. Far wiser to take our complaints to God as Moses did and give God the opportunity to remind us of his promises.

The Exodus 5 conversation with God didn’t dissolve Moses’s conflict with Pharaoh or the Israelites right away. But Moses kept returning to God, and God kept encouraging his weary servant. Forty years later, near the end of his life, Moses told the Israelites, “Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:3–4).

Because Moses kept deepening his relationship with God, God was able to turn Moses’s complaints into praise. Will we allow God to do a similar work of transformation in our lives?


Read Exodus 5:1–6:13. How would you have felt if you were Moses? What do his actions reveal about him? How does God respond each time? What does that reveal about God’s character?

Read Psalm 13. Why is David frustrated in this psalm? What is his attitude at the end of the psalm? What changed his perspective?

Read Psalm 62. In verse 8, David says, “pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Do you think “pour out” refers to any and all our feelings? Why?

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of our series on Prayers of the Bible.

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