There is a video/workbook series on prayer by Phillip Yancey (which I highly recommend) (and based on one of his books) that talks about how we should pray openly about all things.

It even says that we should tell God when we are frustrated with God himself. After all, (a) God wants to be part of our lives, (b) God already knows what we're going through and (c) if we reach out to him, he may answer our prayers or comfort us to reaffirm that he is our God.

All very valid and very useful points.

To illustrate this, he uses the illustration from Habakkuk. In chapter 1, Habakkuk prays to God:

Habakkuk 1:2 (NIV)
How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?

God seems to respond favorably to this prayer:

Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)
Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

There's another example of this type of prayer (praying a complaint about God) in Jeremiah 12.

However, if we look at the book of Job, we see God respond unfavorably to Job's complaining. Job goes on for 37 chapters to complain while his friends chide him for brining it on himself (when really, as we see in Job 1, God allowed Satan to do this to Job unprovoked).

Finally, in Job 38, God answers:

Job 38:1-3 (NIV)
1 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

God goes on for four more chapters to rebuke Job to show how powerless and foolish Job is.

My question (finally):

How can we reconcile God's angry response to Job's complaining with God's favorable response to Habakkuk and Jeremiah's complaining? What did Job do that was so wrong to bring on God's anger (in his response)?

Furthermore, how should we pray to avoid committing the sin that Job committed (in order to avoid God's wrath)? I'm seeking the Protestant viewpoint, excluding the doctrine of reciting prayers. This is more a question regarding open-ended prayer. (see doctrine of prayer)

  • Job was allowed to suffer everything he suffered, not because Job was wicked, but because he was righteous – and God knew that Job, above anyone else, could withstand his suffering and remain faithful to Him. God doesn't allow us to be tempted above what we're able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) and the fact that Job was able to bear it and in the end praise God shows that Job was a man of great faith. And in the end, he was blessed with twice everything he had before. Job learned by experience what he first proclaimed in faith: "when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). – Samuel Bradshaw Sep 23 '16 at 3:26

I believe it is because Job's complaining went beyond merely complaining and went into self-justification and questioning God.

Job 40:1-5

Then the LORD said to Job, "Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.

Then Job answered the LORD and said,

"Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. "Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more."

and verse 8:

Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?"

and finally, Job's confession of his own wrong-doing in his over-complaining:

Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." 'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.' "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes."

God is also angry at Job's "friends" (sidebar - with friends like those, who needs enemies?). And yes, God does say Job has spoken rightly about him as well - but there's some point beyond the right speaking that Job exceeded, too - as I understand it.


It seems that the reason that God was so angry with Job was because of Job's pride and arrogance.

After chapters 38 and 39 where God displays his omnipresence and omnipotence to Job, God confronts Job saying, showing that Job's wisdom is power is limited and finite:

Job 40:8-9 (NASB)
8 “Will you really annul My judgment?
Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?
9 “Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?

He goes on to say that in 40:10-14 that if Job can do these mighty things, then God will actually admit that Job can save himself:

Job 40:10-14
10 “Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity,
And clothe yourself with honor and majesty.
11 “Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low.
12 “Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him,
And tread down the wicked where they stand.
13 “Hide them in the dust together;
Bind them in the hidden place.
14 “Then I will also confess to you,
That your own right hand can save you.

It's this pride and arrogance of Job that God is angry with.


We need to feel free to question God and bring all things before him. However, we need to be mindful to speak truly about God's nature and also be humble enough to realize our own limited natures. If we can keep these two things in mind, then we should take all things to God.


If God was angry with Job at all, it must be because of Job lack of knowledge of true nature of God. Please, I stand to be corrected. I think Job did not know that God does no evil (James 1:13)-yes God do allow evil in our world. All that happened to Job was evil and yet -right from the word go- he was saying it was God that does it. Job totally forgets to pray for himself when the evil begin. I was of the opinion that if Job had call on God from start of the satan evil plan for deliverance (Psalms 50:15), God will have stop satan. It therefore means that if God stop satan on time because of Job’s prayers, Job will not end up saying things that make God to be angry with him. If we look at the Habakkuk and Jeremiah, we see that they prayed to God and it was when it looks as if God not answering them that they try to call God attention to their prayer as a form of complained.


  • This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. Remember that "I believe it means..." isn't an acceptable answer, since this site isn't about personal interpretation. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? – David Stratton Mar 20 '14 at 23:33
  • Hi, and welcome to the Christianity.SE! Although your post seems okay, it can greatly be improved by showing references and stating the denomination that you represent. – Double U Mar 21 '14 at 0:12

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