You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘contemplative prayer’ tag.

Contemplative Prayer Movement and Its Origin
Published in the Christian Chronicle – By S. E. Ray – 06/18/06

There is a prayer practice that is becoming popular within the evangelical church. It is primarily known as Contemplative Prayer. It is also known as centering prayer, listening prayer, breath prayer, and prayer of the heart. The practice is now widely embraced and taught in secular and professed Christian seminaries, colleges, universities, organizations, ministries and seminars throughout the United States. Academic promoters have introduced these practices into the fields of medicine; business and law while countless secular and Christian books, magazines, seminars, and retreats are teaching lay people how to incorporate them into their daily lives. Promoters promise physical, mental and spiritual benefits desiring to bring about positive social change.

The essential function of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus striving to find God. Proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. To achieve the state of emptiness, one uses a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion.

In the early Middle Ages during the 4th through 6th centuries, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They were known to history as the Desert Fathers. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks. They were the ones who first promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. “The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist enunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East… the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.'” From A Time of Departing, p. 42, 2nd ed. (Ray Yungen)

[See photo of Thomas Keating and Thomas Merton below.]

Most New Agers, occultist and Eastern Mystics teach this type of praying, along with certain individuals within Christianity. Two influential writers who have popularized “contemplative prayer” in the evangelical church are Richard Foster and Brennan Manning. Both these men have written popular “Christian” books about contemplative prayer. And, both quote the Catholic mystics such as Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating. Through the late 1960s and early 1970s, Father Keating and two other monks met with Buddhist and Hindu teachers in an effort to understand the mass defection of young Catholics at the time, people drawn in part to the East’s meditation practices. Their research led Keating, then an abbot at a Massachusetts monastery, to begin unearthing a similar meditative method based on the Christian tradition. The East was mixed with Catholicism to yield new appeal to the defecting younger generation of that time.

Contemplative Prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as an independent power apart from oneself but realized intimately through the Holy Spirit. The confusion of this technique with Christian practitioners arises from a misunderstanding of the indwelling of God. The fact that God indwells us does not mean that we can capture his presence by mental techniques. Nor does it mean that we are identical with him in our deepest self as gods. Rather, the Creator God indwells us by grace that does not blend human effort and His divine presence.

Contemplative prayer claims for itself the experience of God, while setting aside external realities and overcoming the “otherness” of God. It takes these characteristics not from Christian tradition but from Hinduism, through the medium of Transcendental Meditation. The practice of TM is Hinduism adapted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu guru, for use in a Western cultural setting. Fr. Pennington, one of the authors of centering prayer and an ardent supporter of TM, says, “Mahesh Yogi, employing the terminology of the ancient Vedic tradition, speaks of this ‘to plunge into deep, deep rest for fifteen or twenty minutes twice a day’ as experiencing the Absolute.” The prayer technique may also incorporate the Buddhist Zen practice of Zazen, or sitting meditation, which involves the detached observation of the thoughts.

Paul writes in scripture, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (I Corinthians 14:15 NIV). He does not say that he will pray with the spirit and clear the mind, but with the spirit and the mind. Clearing ones mind as to be vacant, and trusting God to fill it with whatever He desires, not only has no biblical grounding but also is an open invitation to spiritual invasion of unfriendly familiars. Buddhists call this state Nirvana or Satori, the New Age calls it “at-one-ness”, and Christian mystics perceive they have experienced some kind of ecstatic union with God. Former practitioners have reported insomnia, new fears and paranoia’s, unusual emotional outbursts without restraint, swirling emotions with confusion among others. There is a complete vulnerability in the psychological state of one who practices contemplative prayer, a state that may allow unwelcome visitation without resistance. Contemplative prayer, TM and such practices drop the physiological and psychological boundaries that, in our fallen state, are a fail-safe protection for the human mind and spirit.

The meditation of occultists is identical with the prayer of Christian mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same method for the highest reaches of their respective pursuits. Occultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, and to experience God as the all in all. In New Age meditation, human efforts are relied upon to realize God. The goal is not to seek God as an Other, but to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Where a Christian seeks dialogue and interaction with God and, with his help, the “restoration of all things in Christ,” by a certain “participation in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 NIV), the Mystic seeks God in the inner self and escape from the distractions of the outer world.

Richard Foster in his book, Prayer: Finding the heart’s True Home, he speaks of the practice of “breath prayer,” in which a Christian-sounding word or phrase is repeated over and over again like a mantra. Foster wrote “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (pg. 72). This “breath prayer” idea has gained popularity in charismatic circles that frequently sing of “breathing in Jesus” or variations thereof. Jesus instructed his followers NOT to use vain repetitions as the heathen do (Matthew 6:7). Mantra meditation was practiced by pagan religions (including Hinduism and Buddhism), centuries before Christ was born. Jesus knew about this form of prayer and most scholars agree he was referring to it directly in his teaching.

“Silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.… Silence is the language God speaks … says Thomas Keating who taught “centering prayer” to more than 31,000 people last year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some “sacred word,” like God or Jesus.” Newsweek, January 6, 1992, article called, “Talking to God,” p. 44.

“In advising against being carried away by artificial practices such as Transcendental Meditation I am but repeating the age-old message of the Church…. The way of the Fathers requires firm faith and long patience, whereas our contemporaries want to seize every spiritual gift, including even direct contemplation of the Absolute God, by force and speedily, and will often draw a parallel between prayer in the Name of Jesus and yoga or Transcendental Meditation and the like. I must stress the danger of such errors…. He is deluded who endeavors to divest himself mentally of all that is transitory and relative in order to cross some invisible threshold, to realize his eternal origin, his identity with the Source of all that exists, in order to return and merge with him, the nameless transpersonal Absolute. Such exercises have enabled many to rise to supernatural contemplation of being, to experience a certain mystical trepidation, to know the state of silence of mind, when mind goes beyond the boundaries of time and space. In such like states man may feel the peacefulness of being withdrawn from the continually changing phenomena of the visible world, may even have a certain experience of eternity. But the God of Truth, the Living God, is not in all this.”Archimandrite Sophrony of Mount Athos, former Eastern mystic converted to Christ.

“The mystical “spirituality” that is so popular in evangelical and charismatic circles today is a yearning for an experiential relationship with God that downplays the role of faith and Scripture and that exalts “transcendental” experiences that lift the individual from the earthly mundane into a higher “spiritual” plane. Biblical prayer is talking with God; mystical spirituality prayer is meditation and “centering” and other such things. Biblical Christianity is a patient walk of faith; mystical spirituality is more a flight of fancy. Biblical study is analyzing and meditating upon the literal truth of the Scripture; mystical spirituality focuses on a “deeper meaning”; it is more allegorical and “transcendental” than literal.” Way of Life, David W. Cloud.

What would the martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current Western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? Those who were put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ after departed from Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Paul words ring true today and is a strong exhortation to those who try to mix the ways of darkness with the light. “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.” (I Cor. 10:21 NIV, II Tim 3:5). With extreme prejudice, examine everything against scripture and be cautious about receiving the popular “new” teachings being promoted today in the Church by trusted leaders who are entrenched.

(Friday Church News Notes, October 7, 2011

by David Cloud

 www.wayoflife.org

Saddleback Church recommends a wide range of books on contemplative mysticism at its web site. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun, for example, has been listed under the “Spiritual Growth” section for at least the past two years. Rick Warren, senior pastor at Saddleback, pretends that contemplative prayer is merely getting alone in a quiet place to meditate on God’s Word, but it goes far beyond that. Warren says that contemplative prayer is nothing like yoga, but as a former member of a Hindu meditation society, I can testify that practices such as centering prayer are definitely yoga-like.

Adele Calhoun recommends Roman Catholic monastic practices which were, in turn, borrowed from paganism, as we have demonstrated in our book Contemplative Mysticism. Calhoun lists Roman Catholics as “spiritual tutors,” including M. Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Peter Kreeft, William Meninger, Francis de Sales, Richard Rohr, William Johnson, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Keating, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Tilden Edwards, Ignatius Loyola, St. Benedict, Thomas Merton, John Henry Newman, Julian of Norwich.

Not only are these deeply misguided individuals laden down with Catholic heresies, but many were led by their mystical practices to universalism, panentheism, and even rank idolatry. (For example, Thomas Merton worshipped Buddhist idols.)

Calhoun recommends following the Roman Catholic church calendar, seeking spiritual direction from Catholic orders, and visiting Catholic retreat centers. She describes a pilgrimage she took with 30 women in her “covenant group” to visit the sites of Catholic mystics and to study their practices. She recommends a whole slew of unscriptural contemplative practices, including the Jesus prayer (vain repetition), palms up palms down (psychological visualization), lectio divina, imagination prayer, centering prayer, breath prayer, practicing the presence, silence, and spiritual direction.

She recommends the use of single words as a mantra to drive away conscious thoughts. “Choose a simple word … Let this word guard your attention. … When your thoughts wander let them drop to the bottom of your mind. Don’t go after them. … Imagine your distracting thoughts are part of the debris floating in the current of a river. Don’t try to capture these thoughts; release them and let the river of God’s life carry them away.”

In describing her mysticism she quotes Richard Rohr, “Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence.” This is not biblical contemplation; it is blind mysticism. Even when it comes to devotional reading of the Bible, Calhoun discourages “mentally critiquing or exegeting the text.” Rather, the Bible is to be used as a launching pad for mysticism as the practitioner refuses to “analyze” it but merely “listens and waits.” It is impossible to exaggerate the danger inherent in contemplative mysticism, and it is impossible to warn too loudly and plainly of the spiritual blindness of those “evangelical” leaders who are promoting it.

The Dangers of Divination
by Bob DeWaay


“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:9-11).

One of the claims I often hear from those who use techniques to gain spiritual information is this: “Methods are neutral.” Another statement often made by the purveyors of new techniques for “hearing from God” is: “God cannot be limited, He can use anything.” My intent is to show from Scripture that the first of these statements is false and the second is misleading.

The Bible forbids certain methods for contacting the spirit world.  The passage cited above lists several.  This is not an exhaustive list because methods for contacting the spirit world are limitless.  The term “divination” is a general term that covers any such method.  Old Testament scholar Eugene H. Meff ill comments on this: “The phrase ‘practicers of divination’ refers generally to the whole complex of means of gaining insight from the gods regardless of any particular technique.”‘

The reason for the existence of divination is the fact that the spirit world is hidden from our eyes and information about it cannot be gained by normal means of learning.  The various cultures that the ancient Israelites contacted all had means of divination.  They believed that their fate and well being was in the hands of gods whose intentions were mysterious.  A good diviner, like Balaam (see Numbers 23), was adept at interpreting signs and omens. His desire was not only to learn the future, but to influence the present.  Thus Balaam was hired to curse Israel.  Diviners hope to break curses and forestall bad fate.

Why God forbids Divination

God spoke authoritatively to his chosen people through Moses.  What Moses wrote was God’s revealed will.  It was the only access they had to true information about their relationship to things hidden from normal means of learning (general revelation).  Moses wrote: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law(Deuteronomy 29:29).  The word “occult” means secret or hidden knowledge.  Divination is any practice not specifically ordained in scripture that seeks to gain secret knowledge (i.e. spiritual knowledge God has not revealed).  God purposely limits His people’s access to such spiritual knowledge for their own good.  That which is outside of “the things revealed” is not for us.  Why?  Because there are spirit beings out there who have been practicing the art of deception for many thousands of years.  They are good at what they do.  If we dabble in their world we will be deceived.

In the same section of Scripture that forbids divination, we find this promise: “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.  The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yot4 from your countrymen you shall listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:14,15).  The “prophet’ who God was to raise up was none other than Jesus Christ (see Luke 9:35; John 5:45-47; Hebrews 1:1,2).The true prophets that came after Moses were not law-givers.  They exhorted Israel to be faithful to the Law and they predicted the future.  They did not add to the Law of Moses.  As further protection against deception, Moses declared that the prophets had to be one hundred percent accurate or they were to be dismissed as false (Deuteronomy 18-22). Also, if they made true predictions but led the people away from God they were false (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).  The next authoritative law-giver was Jesus Christ.

By limiting both the methods and the persons that were available to Ms people, God was protecting them from deceiving spirits.  Every pagan culture has had its methods of divination.  Balak would not have been willing to pay Balaam richly if Balaam had not been good at what he did.  The evil spirits that Satan uses to deceive people make these practices work.  The reason that divination is so prevalent is that it works.

Divination in the Church Today

The teachings of Jesus Christ are contained in the New Testament and constitute the further divine revelation that Moses promised when that new “Prophet” came.  These writings are authoritative and combined with the Old Testament constitute “the revealed things” (Deuteronomy 29:29) that belong to us.  This is the limit of authoritative, divine revelation.  Prophecy in the New Testament is not adding to authoritative revelation, but exhorting from it and applying it.  Just as the Old Testament prophets (except Moses) were not law­givers but law-appliers, so are the “prophesying ones’ in the New Testament.  The other function of Old Testament prophets was to inerrantly predict the future of Israel and her Messiah.  Since the One to whom the prophets pointed has come and spoken in full and final revelation, that role no longer exists.  All the prophecies about the future that we are allowed are already contained in the Bible.

Using prophetic techniques to learn secret information or the future is divination.  Today it is like it was in Jeremiah’s day: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name.  I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divinations, futility and the deception of their own minds” (Jeremiah 14:14). 

For example, the “prophet” Rick Joyner went into a trance, visited heaven, and talked to the apostle Paul.  Here is what the departed “Paul” told Joyner: “If what I have written is used as a foundation, it will not be able to hold the weight of that which needs to be built on it … You must see my teachings through the Lord’s teachings, not try to understand Him from my perspective.” (Joyner, The Final Quest, 133).  Necromancy (communicating with the dead) is a technique for gaining secret information that is forbidden.  When forbidden techniques are used, deception is gained. 

 The information from Joyner’s “Paul” is contradictory to the New Testament where Paul claims that his writings are foundational and authoritative. I do not deny that various practices from guided imagery, to EMDR (a technique used by some practitioners of “Theophostic Ministry” to help people find hidden memories and gain personal revelations from God), to contemplative prayer (which uses techniques to silence the mind in the hope of hearing God’s voice), and many others “work.” They do. I deny that they are from God.  God has chosen the valid means by which we can hear from Him.  Those means are revealed in the Bible.  Going outside of God’s ordained means is rebellion which constitutes divination.  Samuel told Saul: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is an iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord He has also rejected you from being king” (I Samuel 15:23)

Using divination puts one in the realm of deceptive spirits.  Paul predicted: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons ” (I Timothy 4: 1).

Conclusion

I said at the beginning of this article that methods are not neutral.  That much has been proved by the fact that the Bible forbids divination, a practice which involves innumerable possible methods.  The other claim that “God can use anything,” is misleading.  That God could use something if He chose to does not mean that He will.  It also does not mean that if He does use something it is a good thing.  For example, God used Balaam to prophesy of Messiah, yet Balaam is condemned through Scriptures as a wicked person who led Israel astray (see Numbers 24:17 for Messianic prophesy; Balaam is condemned – 2 Peter 2:15; Jude I 1; Revelation 2:14).  Balaam was a practitioner of divination, hired to curse Israel yet God chose to sovereignly use him to bless Israel instead.  God may indeed use things He condemns, but that does not exonerate those who are thus used.

Today divination is rampant in the church.  It is just as poisonous to the faith today as divination was to Israel’s faith in the Old Testament.  It is rebellion in that it involves refusing to stay within the boundaries God has set for our own good.  Those who are thus deceived have put themselves into that horrible state because they did not receive the love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12). The truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We need to purge divination from the church and replace it with Gospel preaching and Bible teaching.

Bob De Waay is the pastor of: Twin City Fellowship P.O. Box 8060 Minneapolis, MN 55408 Phone: 612-874-7484 http://www.twincityfellowship.com pastorbob@twincityfellowship.com Pastor DeWaay produces a newsletter called: “Critical Issues Commentary.” You can subscribe to this newsletter by contacting Twin City Fellowship; previous issues are archived on the Twin City Fellowship website listed above.

These quotes are from Ray Yungen who wrote two of my favorite books, “A Time of Departing” and “For Many Shall Come In My Name” Theses books identify new-age movement in the church and the increase of seducing mysticism.

“Interspirituality is the cross-pollination of religious traditions. It is the blending of esoteric practices from different religions while still identifying with one’s own religion.”  

“For instance, it is the belief that one can be a “better Christian” when one practices Buddist Meditation.”

Watch this video for elaboration.

 Next this an important video from Warren Smith who wrote “Reinventingjesuschrist.”

The church needs to renew its commitment to the Bible and start using words like sin, repentance, and obedience. The emergent church dismisses sin, with a wave of the hand. But this is self-deception. Jesus died on the cross because we are sinners. Anything that eliminates the need for the cross is an enemy of God.

I have often wondered how one gets to a mindset that entertains God as a female. Anyone who knows scripture and reads the Bible on a consistant basis knows that God is called the “Father”. No other possibility exists.

So where do the heresies come from?

The explosion of mysticism in our society is key and it is not confined to the general public. It is rampant in the church.

Take for instance Neal Donald Walsch. He claims to converse with God. The truth…he is deceived and deceiving others. His “god”, speaks of a new age gospel which is truly distorted from God’s word. There is no truth in him and his enlightened revelations. His experiences trump the truths found in the Bible, so he says.

As Walsch meditates, here is a product of what he has “received” taken from “Conversations with God.”

“If you think God looks only one way or sounds only one way or is only one way, you’re going to look right past Me night and day. You’ll spend your whole life looking for God and not finding Her.”

The problem with the statement is vast. To know God you have to study His word. He is the only way.

No one can find reconciliation with God and salvation from sin except through union with Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

There is no place in scripture that refers to God in the female sense. Heresies are often traced back through man’s secret revelations obtained by occult mystical spirit guides that are quickly emerging.

So on to the article for today from David Cloud.

THE EMERGING CHURCH’S FEMALE GOD (Friday Church News Notes, June 12, 2009, http://www.wayoflife.org

– Phyllis Tickle, an Episcopalian lay “Eucharistic minister and lector” and a Senior Fellow at Cathedral College at the liberal Washington National Cathedral, is an influential voice in the emerging church and the contemplative prayer movement. Tickle promotes non-verbal contemplative praying. She says, “The whole business of entering prayer WITHOUT THE VEHICLE OF WORDS is very important, for it allows the spirit to flow freely with the spirit of God, and does not have to articulate what is happening until one comes out from prayer” (“Praying in Color: A Conversation with friends and authors Sybil MacBeth and Phyllis Tickle,”

 Wordless meditation is not biblical prayer; it is a pagan practice that is a recipe for demonic deception. Those who practice it are invariably led into heresies. It should not be surprising, then, that Tickle believes in a female God and calls the Holy Spirit “he or she or it.” She teaches that by partaking of the Lord’s Supper the believer is feeding God and reinvigorating the Holy Spirit, whatever that means.

Speaking at Rob Bell’s Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she said: “God is both male and female. God is both father and mother. … There is more than one thing under the name of God, and it is both male and female. … As we are about to do that [take the Lord’s supper], let us remember what we are doing. We not only celebrate that death and that promise of return, but we are feeding by eating God–which is what we are doing here–by eating the body and blood of our God, we are feeding the God within us. For as we take those elements the Spirit also feeds within us and is reinvigorated as he or she or it is by our faith” (Tickle, “A Treasure We Don’t Understand,” May 3, 2009).

Phyllis Tickle, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and that crowd are worshipping idols. The Shack, a popular book in emerging circles, also depicts God as a woman.

July 2018
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives

a

Blog Stats

  • 1,545,240 hits

Donations

I do not ask or want donations for this blog. God supplies all I need to share His Word and His Way of Salvation. Revelation 21:6 says, “..I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. “