• Too cynical not to pray

    Posted by John

    16 February, 2012

    Are you like me? Do you get so wrapped up in everything on the to-do list that you forget to pray?

    But is it really forgetfulness? If I'm honest, if I really believed in the power and importance of prayer (and I do!), surely I wouldn't forget to do it. There must be other reasons why prayer slips down the agenda of importance.

    About 15 years ago, a mega-church pastor from the US, Bill Hybels, released a book entitled Too Busy not to Pray - the implication in the title is obviously that the busyness of life is a reason to spend more time in prayer rather than less. I wonder whether there is need for a second book in the series called 'Too cynical not to pray'?

    There is a potential drift into cynicism that happens when people of faith get seriously engaged in the issues of our world. I know from experience that it is hard to be persistent in prayer when you are daily confronted with the reality of brokenness in our world. I long for God to intervene in that brokenness, but I don't always seem to get what I long for. Consistent injustice and evil can make even the most passionate of us jaded and disillusioned.

    When I start to feel a bit jaded and cynical, it effects my prayer life - the tendency is to pray less because you lose faith that your prayers matter. You lose sight of why it is you pray.

    It's a good question.... why do we pray? Clearly there are lots of answers to that question, but we'll be reflecting on four good reasons to pray on this blog over the next week as Micah Challenge focuses on prayer through our PrayACT campaign:

    •    We pray because prayer is powerful
    •    We pray because we need to repent
    •    We pray because we mourn and we need to express that grief to God
    •    We pray because prayer is relationship.

    There are lots of good reasons to pray. Why is it that they so often get outweighed by fairly weak reasons not to pray?

    If you ask me, the only way to stop the drift into cynicism is to run the other way, to run toward God rather than away from God.  It's no surprise to God that the world is not as God intends it to be. In the face of constant brokenness, people of faith need to strengthen their faith by digging deeper into the promises that God offers. In the face of problems, the reality that our God, Yahweh,is the one whose power is limitless and in whom we can safely trust becomes even more important. Faith in God allows us to be glimmers of hope in a world where there is already far too much cynicism.

    I don't want Micah Challenge to be a network where cynicism ever takes hold. That means Micah Challenge needs to be a praying network, a praying movement!

    If you're like me and sometimes struggle with feeling cynical about prayer when you pray for big things like world poverty, the good news is that God's power and the power of prayer are not dependent on how you feel. God's power is rooted in his character and when we pray in line with God's promises we can be sure that there will be answers - even if we don’t always get to see them.

    So please pray with me, pray with us, this coming week 19-26 February, and every week. I'm confident that hope will rekindle in you, and maybe you'll get the privilege of seeing the power and grace of God turn up in surprising ways.


    John Beckett (known to most of us as JB) is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia. JB desires to see more and more Christians taking on justice, mercy and humility as a way of life and speaking, praying and acting for and with the global poor.

    Click here to get involved in our 'Pray Act - 8 days of prayer' campaign.