Saturday, April 22, 2006

Christians Should Dump Contemplative Prayer

by Brian Flynn

Eleven years ago I walked away from the life of a New Age medium and gave my heart to Jesus Christ. As a medium, I performed psychic readings and, through meditative practices, contacted spirit guides. At the time, I did not realize these guides were demonic. Now as a Christian, I no longer have to chant, go into altered-states of consciousness or perform rituals to find the peace and truth I found through the Lord and his Word.

Three years ago, I read a book called "A Time of Departing," which claimed that many Christian leaders were teaching a mantra-meditation technique. You can imagine my shock when I discovered the New Age had infiltrated Christianity through such a technique, a practice called contemplative prayer.

The technique involves repeating a word or phrase over and over until reaching what is called "the silence." Sometimes, instead of a word or phrase, the breath is focused upon, thus the name breath prayers. The goal? Reaching an altered-state of consciousness in order to communicate with God.

Contemplating God's Word is a good thing. But the contemplative prayer I speak of is not. First practiced by monks centuries ago, it died out and did not re-enter again until the 1960s when Catholic monks, Thomas Keating and Thomas Merton, decided to introduce the practice to mainstream Christianity.

Richard Foster, a supporter of contemplative prayer, writes a curious warning about this practice in his book "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home." "I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance," he explains. "While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection."

Then why do it, Mr. Foster? Why would God put me in a position to fend for myself in this unknown spiritual realm surrounded by spiritual beings that are not in cooperation with God and his way? He would not.

The Achilles' heel for Mr. Foster is that there is no scriptural support for contemplative prayer other than this warning, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7,8).

What would martyrs of the faith who departed from Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism say to us if they could speak of our intermingling Christianity with Eastern mystical practices? As a former New Age medium, I know the difference between Eastern meditative practices and biblical Christian prayer. Sadly, too many in the Christian community do not.

Brian Flynn is the director of One Truth Ministries based out of Minneapolis. His first book, "Running Against the Wind," will be released in March by Lighthouse Trails Publishing.


Blogger Andy's Treasures said...

Well said, and a bit frightening.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous DoubleD said...

I appreciate your last 2 entries. Hope you plan to continue on this topic in the future. You have expressed so well what are my fears of contemplative spirituality. My question is how do we respond to counter this apostasty. So many are being deceived.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

Thanks Double D,

The only thing I can say in how to combat this would be to:

1. Pray a whole lot for the truth to prevail and for discernment
2. Study the bible and other trusted resources a whole lot to reinforce the truth
3. Pray that God would use you in the spiritual battle and start to warn others

I believe in God's sovereignty. We need to look to the Holy Spirit for deliverance and protection of ourselves and others.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Thanks for the background on contemplative prayer. I've seen a lot of references to it on the Slice of Laodicea site, but hadn't read a definition.

7:03 PM  

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