Cynicism (Part 3): Three Cures for Cynicism

We’re taking some time to examine our prayer lives using Paul Miller’s excellent book, A Praying LifeIn the last two days we’ve learned that cynicism is all around us; it is “the air we breathe.”  However, it is lethal to our prayer lives and is “suffocating our hearts.”  Cynicism is skeptical and ultimately trusts in the goodness of humanity, not the Good Shepherd.  Thus it is bound to fail and disappoint. 

Today, we’ll look at the first three of the six cures Miller offers to cure our cynicism:

1) Be Warm But Wary: We aren’t to act naive as if evil doesn’t exist.  Jesus warns us it does.  But even if it seems as though a haze of darkness surrounds us, Jesus, our Great King sits high above it all.  Miller summarizes this point concisely, “We are to combine a robust trust in the Good Shepherd with a vigilance about the presence of eveil in our own hearts and in the hearts of others.”

2) Learn To Hope Again: The cynical spirit cannot prize the promise of redemption because it perceives prayer as pointless.  Miller writes, “Hope begins with the heart of God.  As you grasp what the Father’s heart is like, how he loves to give, then prayer will begin to feel completely natural to you.”

3) Cultivate A Childlike Spirit: Miller, quoting Alan Jacobs’ biography of C.S. Lewis, writes, “those who will never be fooled can never be delighted, because without self-forgetfulness there can be no delight.” Ultimately, Miller notes, “the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadows of death.  The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.”

Stay tuned for the next three cures tomorrow.

Read Part 1 on the nature of naive optimism.  Read Part 2 to discover the danger of cynicism and naive optimism with respect to our prayer lives.

Buy A Praying Life today:

Caleb Gallifant


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