Lately we spend a lot of time reading things in Spanish, or stuff about El Salvador and Latin America but we’ve also read some interesting books in English too. One that I read not too long ago is called The Praying Life by Paul Miller. This book is well worth reading especially if you are someone who doesn’t have time to pray, or doesn’t see the point in praying.
I fall into the later group very many times because I tend to be very cynical. For years I took pride in this character flaw, but lately I can see how it has screwed up my life many times. This has definitely affected my prayer life, and this is something that is addressed in the book. I find myself often wondering what is even the point in praying…what will happen, will happen. God is bigger than me anyway, so why bother?
But this has led me into the trap of developing a critical and negative view of the world and my relationships, including my relationship with God many times. It’s something I struggle with…I tend to criticize and to lack contentment. It’s something that I find myself wrestling with God about again and again, including while I was reading this book.
Being less cynical or less critical isn’t going to change the realities of life that include suffering and pain but it will change my reaction. One sentence in the book that really got me was this one: “Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the light.”
I realized when I read this that I focus on the darkness. Where we are living right now is often filled with darkness. I’m sure in your own lives too you find yourself lost or struggling through a dark place in your life…a dark relationship, or dark circumstances. But the challenge to me is where is my focus? If it’s on the darkness I will be swallowed by it, bringing down others with me. But if it’s on the Shepherd, then I am really living. I am journeying hand in hand with God, not stumbling along, victim to my own cyncial self.
This book goes on to share many other insights into our selves, our prayers, and how praying can change our relationship with God. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this topic…and especially all you fellow cynics out there.