One of the continuing snares Christians often encounter in their churches (of almost every denomination) is contemplative prayer. Is it biblical? Why are so many discernment ministries sounding the alarm? After all, doesn't the Bible say we are to meditate on God's Word? The answer to that last question is YES! We are to fill our minds with Scripture and think on those verses night and day--or as often as possible. The problem with contemplative prayer is its mystical/Eastern (non-Christian) roots and its mind-emptying techniques (entering the "silence," breath prayers, chanting mantras, etc.).
The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer
By Christine Pack (Article reprinted in full)
An excellent article by Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel explains why Contemplative Prayer practices (which are now in every Christian denomination that I know of) are unbiblical. Contemplative Prayer often enters into churches under the following guises:
- Spiritual Formation - Spiritual Disciplines - Ancient Future - Contemplative Spirituality - Taize - Centering Prayer - Lectio Divina - Jesus Prayer - Labyrinth - Walk To Emmaus
"Spiritual formation seeks to lure evangelicals into ancient Catholic and Orthodox contemplative practices in order to draw closer to God, experience His presence, and hear His voice apart from Scripture. In order to embrace this mystical form of spirituality, contemplatives are willing to compromise at virtually every turn. Central doctrines such as sola fide and sola Scriptura are shrugged off as secondary. Methods never found in the Bible as the true means of spiritual growth and of knowing God, are emphasized. And complete heretics such as Thomas Merton are seen as reliable spiritual guides to spirituality. The contemplatives have sold out to Catholic mysticism and abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly, in the process many undiscerning evangelicals will follow suit."
I grew up in a very liberal church (i.e., a church devoid of the true gospel), in which Contemplative Prayer practices were recommended routinely for those who came seeking help with "a stale prayer life." After I left the church as a young woman and went into the New Age, these mystical practices were also an enormous part of my newfound spirituality.
When God saved me at 35, I repented of these practices and recognized them for what they were: a Satanic counterfeit designed to tricks non-believers through whipped up mystical experiences into thinking they were experiencing God. But sadly, it wasn't long before these practices began flowing into what had once been solid, evangelical churches (including my own precious church, where I was saved).
So in a way, I feel I have been surrounded by these wicked mystical practices all of my life. I know them from the inside out, and I know how deceptive they are. They can deceive unregenerated people into thinking for years - in many cases, a lifetime - that they have a real, active, ongoing relationship with the God of the universe.
Many of these people will think they are Christian when in fact they are not. They will have aligned themselves with other professing Christians, they will attend weekly services in a church, they will be doing all of the things that they think they are supposed to be doing in order to be reconciled to God (tithing, attending church, serving the community, sending teams to foreign countries to dig wells, build infrastructure, etc.), and a great many of them will be lost, lost, lost. These are the people God is talking about in Matthew 7:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Do you understand what I'm saying here? These are not self-professed atheists or Hindu's or Muslims or witches. They aren't down at the local mosque or temple or witch's coven.....they are in churches. These are people who are deceived. Perhaps they are people you know and are close to: spouses, children, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, parents, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. If you know anyone who has become ensnared in the deceptive mystical practices of Contemplative Prayer, please share Pastor Gilley's article with them, or any of the other many, many articles/programs about Contemplative Prayer that can be found on this site, as well as a number of other excellent sites, including:
A Time of Departing(an excellent primer on how mysticism is entering today's churches)