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Amy is co-host and blogger for both Stand Up for the Truth and Naomi's Table, two ministries that give her the opportunity to write and talk about Jesus all day long. She has written, produced and broadcast in the realm of television and radio news, magazine business journals and marketing materials.

The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer

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.).

Today on her Sola Sister’s BlogChristine Pack shared some excellent resources along with “red flag” terms you can look for as well as insights from her own experience in the New Age:

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

Writes Gilley:

“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:

Pyromaniacs 

Twin City Fellowship

Stand Up For The Truth

Biblical Christianity 

Christian Answers For The New Age (CANA) 

Apprising

Worldview Weekend 

Fighting For The Faith

 Additional Resources 

The 101 of Contemplative Prayer 

Testimony of a Former Mystic

A Time of Departing(an excellent primer on how mysticism is entering today’s churches)

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer?

Lectio Divina and “Hearing God’s Voice”

John Piper Encouraging Lectio Divina

John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church Endorsing Books by Contemplative Spirituality Mystics Dallas Willard and Richard Foster

Beth Moore and John Piper Lead “Lectio Divina Lite” Prayer at Passion 2012 Conference

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.  - by Kevin DeYoung

Just Do Something – by Kevin DeYoung (audio)

On John Piper and Lectio Divina

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence

What Is Mysticism?

What Is Mysticism? (5-Part Series by Dr. Gary Gilley) - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5

Mystical Youth Ministry

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9 Responses to “The Dangers of Contemplative Prayer”

  1. Mr Davis #

    Sober in the King James is used to describe a state of mind, which, we are to continue in. Yet it these very things we set aside when you practice going into yourself which is what eastern mystisism is all about.

    To be sober is to be vigilant.
    To be sober is to be present.
    To be sober is to be aware.

    Fill your mind with Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Fill your mind with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is The salvation of sinners by the Blood of Jesus Christ from the coming wrath of a Just and Holy God.

    Even know the souls under the alter in heaven cry out: And they cried with a loud voice, saying , How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth. Revelation 6:10

    The Lord is coming so watch

    Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

    According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. Isaiah 59:15-20

    Our redeemer is coming!

    May 4, 2012 at 2:18 AM Reply
  2. jeff #

    With all due respect and Christian love, I think this is incorrect thinking. If meditating on the Word brings you closer to God, I fail to see what is wrong with that. If sola
    Scriptura is your concern, I suggest you read the Bible more carefully. Jesus challeneges us many times to live our faith and that if we don't, he won't recongnize us, even though he gave his all for us.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:14 AM Reply
  3. Nate #

    What's wrong with Taize? Hmm, sing a line or two of the psalms while thinking about it. Yeah that sound too New Agey…

    May 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM Reply
  4. Nate #

    Just saw you're attacking Lectio Divina too…. I read the articles that claim to describe it…. very twisted perspective. There should have been a real Catholic perspective on Lectio Divina… Not some anti-Catholic's warped interpretation of it.

    Just to point out one flaw… Lectio Divina dates to the 12th century… in comparison to Lectio Divina, Lutheranism is a "New Age" religion…..

    May 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM Reply
  5. Rune #

    Matt 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
    Matt 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.

    Note the singular "eye", that is, this "eye" is your mind.

    Here, Jesus prescribes centred contemplative prayer focused on the will and the kingdom of God as indicted by everything Jesus said prior. The danger is for those people with evil minds, but then, contemplative prayer is not the danger, it's already the evil mind that is the danger.

    Jesus tells us, if your mind is evil and you make it single then your whole body will be filled with darkness. That would be a revelation for those in denial of themselves.

    I can see why certain people might be afraid of contemplative prayer ;-)

    February 22, 2014 at 5:33 AM Reply
  6. Symphony #

    To answer your question ("Do you understand what I am saying here?")…NO! I came to this page because I heard the term contemplative prayer this morning and googled it to see what the heck it is and reading your story, I still don't have a clue.

    March 14, 2014 at 6:28 AM Reply
  7. Derek #

    Where did the scriptures come from in the first place? Were not these men divinely and supernaturally inspired? Are they the exception? Does the written Word of God replace the presence and voice of the Spirit in us? That, my friend, is heresy.

    April 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM Reply
  8. Andrew #

    It makes perfect sense for you to feel ill at ease with contemplative prayer, especially considering what you've been through. However, I would encourage you to be accepting of your brother's and sisters who say they hear from God. This kind of listening is Scriptural as evidenced by the book of Acts, specifically in chapter 13: 1-12 and in 21:11. I don't believe that contemplative prayer is for you because you truly have experienced heresy and terrible wounds from spiritualism. However for others it may be simply meditating on God: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."(Philippians 4:8 NIV)

    June 22, 2014 at 12:55 PM Reply
  9. Maria quay #

    This website has contemplative prayer all mixed up. Christian contemplative prayer is resting quietly in God's presence. The Lord in the Scriptures invates us "be still and know that I am God" to come to him in his presence with all humility and complete openes to his Spirit. We don't need any techniques of whatever from other religions to quier our souls as God provides his peace. Christian contemplative prayer is ALL God's work in the soul as with his help try to center in his presence. He knows all our need so we don't need to verbalize them to him. This form of prayer only brings the soul closer to the Lord. The great saints of the church all practice it. If you don't have God as the center of your life and your mind is busy with worldly concerns, forget contemplative prayer.

    July 22, 2014 at 10:22 PM Reply

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