Since September I have been in a Ladies Small Group each Thursday morning that is studying Paul E. Miller’s book on prayer: The Praying Life.
I think I have mentioned it here already but as I and other group leaders have been leading our groups, we also have some help in preparing from one of our pastors…Will Spink. After we have worked on the lesson, he meets with us before the class and answers our questions and gives insight into sections of the lesson we are having trouble with.
A couple of weeks ago, the chapter group we studied was on cynicism. I’ve read the book before but this time the section on cynicism has really clobbered me…on many levels!
Realize that most of what I’m discussing today is NOT original with me. The thought processes have been stimulated by Paul’s writing in this area…and some of our discussion is a result of it.
With that disclaimer mentioned, we’ll be on our way.
Are you cynical?
Do you find yourself being cynical? When applied to prayer and how worthwhile is it to ask for something because whatever GOD wants to happen will happen anyway? Do you even wonder if some of the things you want to ask for are just too trivial? What about the whole aspect of GOD’s saying “no” to your request? Is that painful for you?
Growing up means learning to accept “no’s” if they come, without being devastated. This goes double when you consider they are coming from the hand of a loving heavenly Father. I’m not saying it is easy or even a passive exercise. It will include much back and forth as in any relationship. But at the bottom line…
Why is being cynical so dangerous?
- It basically causes me to doubt the active goodness of GOD on my behalf!
- It causes me to lose hope that anything in my life can change for good.
- It maintains my distance from GOD and people. I live in a world of false intimacy where I think I’m “in the know” about what is really happening. When I am actually being suspicious of motives of others that may often be untrue!
- It causes me to give up in prayer much faster. I am giving up when my first request doesn’t seem to be answered instead of espressing who I am, with GOD, much as a child who wants something badly would do. I am not being persistant as He commanded in Luke 18:1-8.
- My prayer is not fiesty as many in Scripture prayed…Moses, David, Elijah…to name a few.
Where does cynicism come from?
My cynicism has often come from a naive optimism that was based on believing in the goodness of people. At some point that view was shattered by the behavior of people who weren’t good. None of us is all good. We all fail each other at some point. For some of us it took longer than for others, but it happened. Then we became cynical…to some degree or another.
True belief needs to be based on the goodness of GOD, the Good Shepherd. Of course, many of us believe this in our heads. But we live in a culture permeated by cynicism at every turn. We have seen it played out in the history of our country for sure…to the point where many look on people of faith as hypocrites. Yes, there are some, but not all are hypocrites…and certainly not all the time.
As we think about cynicism, our own and the cynicism that is all around us. Think of the contrast between that view and the attitude of a child who comes to the father or mother, trusting they can take care of any problem or need brought to the parent. This is the attitude we need as we live our lives and see situations come that we must take to the Father.
Will we trust Him with the answer or allow our cynicism to raise its ugly head?
Where do you lie in the cynicism continuum? How does it affect the way you pray?
Tomorrow, we will talk more about prayer.
As we replace our cynicism with something positive, we need to start looking for GOD’s presence in the mundane places in our lives.
Start paying attention…
- to His presence in creation,
- in the people around you,
- in the joyful and kind outworkings of grace that pop up in the everyday encounters you have with people at work, in the store, at home or at church.
- even in His convicting of sin…sometimes through others. This is also a gracious provision.
If you are not prone to remember them, jot them down on paper or in your phone.
Find ways to do this as a family as well by making it into a game!