Grumbling is a part of human nature. One can grumble about almost anything in life: spouses, children, parents, bosses, employees, governments, taxes, roads, internet, food, and always of course, the weather! Grumbling is neither a formal complaint, nor a heartfelt request, nor a thoughtful petition. It gives vent to our inner feelings regarding the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Instead of doing something about them, we prefer to grumble.
The Bible mentions several instances of people’s grumbling. When people listened to Jesus, they would often grumble about his teachings. (Luke 15:2, John 6:41-43) Jesus’ own disciples used to grumble during their private discussions. (John 6:60-61) Paul, Peter and James had to exhort people not to grumble against one another, but to offer hospitality and do everything without grumbling. (Phil 2:14-15, 1 Peter 4:9, James 5:9)
The Israelites during their journey through the wilderness were habitual grumblers despite being God’s chosen people. They first grumbled that they were thirsty. God provided them with twelve springs of water. Then they grumbled that they were starving to death. So God sent them manna from heaven every morning. But they continued to grumble that they had no meat! So God sent them manna in the morning and quail in the evening. (Exodus 15-16, Numbers 14) Their grumbling just went on!
However, what we learn from the Bible is that God is attentive to people’s prayers irrespective of their form, be they structured prayers, petitions, requests, complaints, cries, distress calls, sighs, groans, murmuring or grumbling! Even if we do not reach out to God in a prayerful manner, he hears us, he knows our thoughts, and he responds.