The last few days we’ve tracked through the sin of cynicism examining how it destroys one’s prayer life. We’ve seen how prevalent cynicism really is and the dangers it presents. Yesterday, we looked at the first set of cures for cynicism offered by Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life. The final three cures Miller lists are as follows:
4) Cultivating a Thankful Spirit: The easiest way to combat a cynical spirit is to start getting thankful. A cynical spirit gets hung up on what can be perceived by the senses. Perception is reality. But this is not true for the Christian. Nothing is more real than the invisible: namely, God. Thankfulness helps align you with what’s real. The reality is that we have a Gracious, Good, and Glorious God who reigns over the universe at every present moment and will for all eternity. Cynicism can’t see this, but thankfulness can. As Miller says, “Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness. You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift.”
5) Cultivating Repentance: Cynicism is derived from the gap between what I know and what I do – the distance between my heart and my hands. Because I’m out of sync with God, everything I do feels fake. I then project this on others. “In short,” writes Miller, “my empty religious performance leads me to think that everyone is phony. The very thing I am doing, I accuse others of doing. Adding judgment to hypocricy breeds cynicism.” What results is a “split personality:” an external life that looks devout and an internal life that’s in shambles. Repentance heals this hypocricy realigning the private self with the public self.
6) Developing an Eye for Jesus: Cynicism doesn’t look at Christ, but at the blemishes in Christianity. Cynicism doesn’t spot King Jesus, but the failures and shortcomings of church leaders. We must humble ourselves, therefore, and gaze at our wonderful Savior. Not only that, but we must learn to trust him at every turn extending immense grace to those in the church. As Miller says, “Instead of focusing on people’s lack of integrity, on their split personalities, we need to focus on how Jesus is reshaping the church to be more like himself.” We’ve got to learn to behold him again.
Stay tuned for more posts on prayer from Paul Miller’s, A Praying Life.
Missed the Series? Check Parts 1-3 out below:
Part 1 covers the nature of naive optimism. Read Part 2 to discover the danger of cynicism and naive optimism with respect to our prayer lives. Part 3 examines the first three cures of cynicism described by Miller.
Buy A Praying Life today: