Cynicism is, increasingly, the dominant spirit of our age. When I say that cynicism is the spirit of the age, I mean it is an influence, a tone that permeates our culture, one of the master temptations of our age. Personally, it is my greatest struggle in prayer. If I get an answer to prayer, sometimes I’ll think, It would have happened anyway. Other times I’ll try to pray but wonder if it makes a difference.
Frustration leads to fear.
Many Christians stand at the edge of cynicism, struggling with a defeated weariness. Their spirits have begun to deaden, but unlike the cynic, they’ve not lost hope. My friend Bryan summarized it this way: “I think we have built up scar tissue from our frustrations, and we don’t want to expose ourselves anymore. Fear constrains us.”
Cynicism and defeated weariness have this in common: They both question the active goodness of God on our behalf. Left unchallenged, their low-level doubt opens the door for bigger doubt. They’ve lost their childlike spirit and thus are unable to move toward their heavenly Father.
Satan Wants to Destroy Our Communication with the Father.
Cynicism is so pervasive that, at times, it feels like a presence. Behind the spirit of the age lies an unseen, personal evil presence, a spirit. If Satan can’t stop you from praying, then he will try to rob the fruit of praying by dulling your soul. Satan cannot create, but he can corrupt.
To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.
Prayer brings deliverance from the evil one.
A praying life is the opposite. It engages evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty. Cynicism, on the other hand, merely critiques. It is passive, cocooning itself from the passions of the great cosmic battle we are engaged in. It is without hope.
By reflecting on cynicism and defeated weariness, we are meditating on the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NIV).
Cynicism is the air we breathe, and it is suffocating our hearts. Unless we become disciples of Jesus, this present evil age will first deaden and then destroy our prayer lives, not to mention our souls. Our only hope is to follow Jesus as he leads us out of cynicism.
Dive deeper into understanding cynicism so you can battle against it. Read A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller.