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Following Jesus Out of Cynicism, with Paul Miller

27 January, 2010

b picAs I said in my last post, I’ve really been enjoying Paul Miller’s A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. Last time I looked at Miller’s insightful description of cynicism, which so pervades the spirit of this age, and its Christian counterpart, defeated weariness. Miller’s answer to both is simple: look to Jesus.

Miller describes ‘six cures for cynicism’ which Jesus offers us. There’s a lot of wisdom here. I’ll point out the first three to chew on, with excerpts.

1.  Be Warm But Wary

Jesus does not ignore evil…. Jesus keeps in tension wariness about evil with a robust confidence in the goodness of his Father…. We are to combine a robust trust in the Good Shepherd with a vigilance  about the presence of evil in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. The feel of a praying life is [not naive optimism, but] cautious optimism — caution because of the Fall, optimism because of redemption.

2.  Learn to Hope Again

Cynicism kills hope…. But Jesus is all about hope…. 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. Many of us believe in the Christian hope of ultimate redemption, but we breath the cynical spirit of our age and miss the heart of God…. When you pray, you are touching the hopeful heart of God. When you know that, prayer becomes an adventure.

3.  Cultivate a Childlike Spirit

I recently had a cynical moment during my morning prayer time. I was reflecting on some answers to the previous day’s prayer, and I felt a lingering distaste in my soul. All I’d done was pray, and God had acted. It seemed too easy. Trite. I realized I was hunting for something to doubt. I was also hunting for something to do. At bottom, I didn’t like grace. I wanted to be a player in the way God answered my request. In fact, at that moment I didn’t like God. I was more comfortable with his distance.

What do I do with this old heart of mine? Exactly what we have been talking about. Cry out for grace like a hungry child. As soon as I begin simply asking for help, I have become like a little child again. I’ve stopped becoming cynical. Oddly enough, my prayer is answered almost immediately because in the act of praying I’ve become like a child. The cure for cynicism is to become like a little child again. Instead of critiquing others’ stories, watch the story our Father is weaving.

One Comment
  1. 28 January, 2010 3:04 pm

    Brannan, can you send me an email? I lost your email address, and I couldn’t find it on this site. Thanks, Wes

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