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I WATCHED THE "BE STILL" DVD ON CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER AND IT IS DECEIVING



Posted: 04/13/06

Be Still and Know … that you are being deceived.

 

 

There is nothing more devious than a lie told with subtlety. Last week, I purchased the Be Still and Know That I am God DVD produced by 20th Century Fox. The cover boasts of such contemplatives as Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Calvin Miller and Priscilla Shirer, along with some names that may surprise you-Max Lucado, Beth Moore. An acknowledgement list at the end includes Brennan Manning and Dr. Charles Stanley.

 

The advertisement for the video states:

 

Eight hundred people gathered at Mariner's church in Newport Beach, California for this amazing event that was broadcast live to over 2000 churches nationwide. Richard Foster and Dallas Willard kicked off the evening with an introduction and dialogue on the history of Contemplative Prayer. Priscilla Shirer shared passionately about the vital need to spend time listening to God and Dr. Henry Cloud challenged everyone with practical steps to help incorporate this type of prayer into busy, everyday life. Kendall Payne's soulful 'Be Thou My Vision' set apart the close of the evening with Richard Foster leading the group in a time of silent, listening prayer based on a scripture reading from Luke. As one woman shared afterward, 'I loved learning about this new kind of prayer that is actually so old from so many different views. There really was something for everyone...'

 

I tried to watch this DVD as if I were a person that knew little about contemplative prayer but had a fair knowledge of Scripture. By the advertisement, I am told that I'm going to be introduced to a new and different way to pray.  The video begins by telling me that we all live in a frenzied chaotic world and that Christians are not immune to it. It suggests that we need to spend more time in prayer. Gosh! What a revelation! I spent $15.98 to be told that?

 

Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, begins by describing contemplative prayer this way: "Contemplative prayer is 'listening prayer.' It is attentiveness … It is being 'all ears' to what the Father has to say to us."

 

The DVD shows people reading their Bibles, while similar descriptions progress. Okay, so I am to listen to God while reading the Bible? I do that already. God informs me through His word. What's new about that? As I am watching this, I am wondering, "Did Fox put all this money into this project just to tell people to read their Bibles and think about what they have read?

 

The narrator suggests finding some quiet time to be alone. Certainly all of us need that, but I already have my morning devotional. Perhaps many Christians don't do this and this DVD is a reminder.

 

The film describes contemplative prayer in many ways. Spending time in God's word and contemplating its meaning. I already do that. Get away from the world and all the noise and distractions by finding a quiet place to pray. That's nothing new. Meditating on a phrase from the Bible that has meaning to me. I do that often. However, they are suggesting a unique specific prayer. They could have called it the spend-time-contemplating-in-a-quiet-place-prayer. Perhaps they decided that name was too long and called it contemplative prayer.

 

Priscilla Shirer, author of He Speaks to Me, Preparing to Hear the Voice of God, shares her views. She states,

 

Most of my prayer time is filled up with what I am saying to Him as opposed to just being quiet, actually giving Him an opportunity to speak to me…. It never occurred to me that I needed to consciously go into his presence with my mouth closed giving him an opportunity to get a word in edgewise.

 

Does she mean that God starts talking in my mind during the time of prayer? Now this is confusing to me. The premise of the Be Still DVD is suggesting that we need to spend more time alone in solitude to read the Bible, but then the meaning is switched to now mean silencing, or stilling, one's thoughts. Which silent solitude do they mean? Finding quiet time or finding quiet time to quiet and still the mind?

 

I was curious as to why Beth Moore had been a part of this production. Although I am not greatly familiar with her work, I have been told by many that she is well thought of within the Christian community, and she has created reputable Bible study programs. When she was questioned as to her participation in Be Still that promotes a mystical prayer movement she released a statement distancing herself from the project. What has really sparked my curiosity is what is she distancing herself from? After all, she seems to be the most quoted person in the film. If this practice is a biblical one, why has she denounced this project? Does she too see a problem with contemplative prayer?

 

The phrase contemplative prayer sounds like a suggestion that we are to contemplate God's word or contemplate its meaning by thinking. However, that is not its real meaning or how it is practiced.

 

Those on the DVD who promote the silence teach that this state of mind is reached through a repetitive practice (i.e., a mantra). Listed in the acknowledgements of Be Still is Brannon Manning. He describes the method in his book Signature of Jesus this way,

 

…the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.  

The second step, "without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often."

The third step concerns what to do when inevitable distractions come. The answer is to simply return to listening to your sacred word. Gently return your mind to your sacred word.

This is the only way that one can truly silence the mind. It is like putting the mind in neutral. Without repetition your own thoughts simply get in the way. We are beings that simply cannot shut off our thoughts, but you can through repetition, by going into an altered state.  Hindus have practiced this type of meditation for centuries.

 

During this practice, contemplatives believe that you can hear God speaking in your mind. This is not a biblical practice. God has spoken to many individuals throughout the Bible but never by a meditative practice initiated by man. It is a dangerous practice and the results are detrimental.

 

Richard Foster admits to this danger 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…. 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.

 

Foster also states: "At the outset I need to give a word of warning, a little like the warning labels on medicine bottles. Contemplative prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer…"  Sadly, this warning label is not listed on the DVD.

 

Foster describes the method of contemplative prayer quite differently in the Be Still film. It is a rather watered-down version of Lectio Divina. (You may read my article on this subject here). He instructs the listener to read a page of scripture several times looking for the important passages. He then reads it again focusing on one passage that he feels is relevant to him at that moment in his life. If that was all there was to contemplative prayer, I would not have written a book condemning it. I propose to you that Mr. Foster is not being upfront and honest in the DVD.

 

Max Lucado, also in the film, states there are two ways to read the Bible-for inspiration and for information. Certainly the Bible inspires me but it is by its information. Throughout this film, there is an underlying theme that the Bible is to be used, not just as a resource for knowledge, but rather as a mystical device. So in essence, the Bible is being recommended as a tool to practice our meditation techniques!

 

In later sections of the DVD under Cloud of Witnesses, Foster praises the early mystics such as Madame Guyon, but how does she describe reading the Bible? From Foster's book Devotional Classics, Madame Guyon states:

 

[M]ake use of scripture to quiet your mind. First read a passage of scripture. Once you sense the Lord's presence, the content of what you read is no longer important. The scripture has served its purpose; it has quieted your mind; it has brought you to him. …You should always remember that you are not there to gain an understanding of what you have read; rather you are reading to turn your mind from the outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn or to read, but you are there to experience the presence of your Lord!

 

The Lord is already present! He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. I already have the assurance through his word without "practicing the presence."

 

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-21)

 

In truth, those supporting the practice of contemplative prayer are demonstrating a tragic failure of faith. Is Christ's finished work on the Cross not enough for them, and are they not now sharing their doubt with all of us?

 

Although there are demonstrations of honest love for God from some of the individuals in this DVD, there is too much misleading information that will take listeners from knowing the word of God to an inward journey of deception waiting for God to speak to them in their minds. In fact, their use of the title Be Still and Know That I Am God, demonstrates their lack of biblical knowledge.

 

There are two commands in this verse:

1. BE STILL (don't worry or panic) and

2. KNOW THAT I AM GOD (a recognition of God's sovereignty).

 

The Achilles heal of contemplative prayer has always been its lack of biblical support . The choice is clear, we either come to God on his terms or any way man sees fit. Coming to God through a practice taught by mystics during the Dark Ages which they borrowed from eastern religions is not coming to God on His terms. 

 

I left the New Age to escape practices like these, because I knew they lead to deception.  I am not going to stand by and watch while my brothers and sisters in Christ fall into the same trap. The participants in this DVD are in scriptural error and must be confronted.  No matter how much these modern day mystics try to attain the silence they will never receive silence from me.

 

 

 

 

 

Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

Brian Flynn

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

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READER FEEDBACK


Re: Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 09/18/06 11:56:52 PM Age 42, CA
Amen to "Focusing on God invites God to speak to us." The Bible does not teach us to empty our mind. We're to "be transformed by the renewing of our mind" (Rom.12:2). Meditating on God's Word renews our mind. We're to have the mind of Christ. Jesus never engaged in "Comtemplative prayer." If we were suppose to, He'd have taught us to pray in that manner.



I did not watch the video
Posted On: 08/05/06 10:49:00 AM Age 54, CA
I did not watch the video, "why give satan a hand up"? I just want to say, AMEN! Deceived is why the rapture will be fewer than we think. I hope I am counted worthy amoung the blessed. Robin.

I read the Article on contemplative prayer
Posted On: 06/22/06 10:22:03 PM Age 59, ME
I appreciate & respect the author's intentions.I disagree with his spiritual anxiety.There is no cause for angst when one realizes that the combined action of mind(soul) & listening(communication/spirit)is to move from reflection on the Scriptures & toward a receptive posture of "waiting upon the Lord.The contemplatative mystics Madame Guyon,Fenelon,Theresa of Avila,John of the Cross,& many others humbly expressed the proper heart-attitude in pursuing the Lord with such profound hunger for His Presence. I respect the author's concern for the eastern mystical tilt toward the mantra-like repitition of words. Here is the rub: eastern mystics view 'sacred words' to be words that inherently possess 'special power'. In plain contradistinction to this let me refer us to Paul, who reminds us to think on heavenly things;Jesus spke of the power of words. Proverbs speak of the words that come from our mouth.As mature Believers we know that the LivingWord of God is incomparably powerful & when spoken out as the Holy Spirit of our Lord God leads us through our spirit to do,the Word never returns void. True,we must be eternally vigilant & in the Word of God,for the Word is His Nature. Knowing,for example,Dr. Charles Stanley's consistent fundamental exposition of the Word according to sound doctrine,instead causes me to simply question the semantics of the original article.Sometimes we (quite understandably) strain at a gnat whilst swallowing the camel;it's normal to become over-focussed at times-- as much today with all the cults springing up,as in the early church with all the cults springing up. Azusa Street revival was condemned, ridiculed, & persecuted; yet from that move of the Holy Spirit came the Assemlies of God,the Pentacostal movement throughout America & the world, & the Foursquare churches... Has anyone personally asked Each of the personalites mentioned in the article if we are understanding them correctly?, lest we fiddle with error whilst the world watches us shoot each other... Micah 6:8 is a light unto our path.... for the Lord looks not upon the outward appearance, but upon the Heart....



Re: Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 06/14/06 08:29:33 PM Age 41, FL
I totally disagree with the first posted feedback. We do go thru many changes within our 'faith' walk ... as the Bible so truly states ... 'from glory to glory'. But, not to be continually aware of our communion via communication with God ... call it quiet time, prayer time, devotionals, etc ... is totally defeating the very purpose of our 'faith' walk and self contradictory at the same time. The world puts on too many rules and regulations to follow and believe in God. Man's ways will never come close to the 'simplicity' of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do's and dont's will never quantify for faith. Yet, it is written that faith without works is dead, just as works without faith is dead. There again ... the rubber meets the road. Prayer, is our communication which becomes our communion, which becomes our spiritual pavement that we walk on. Either it is there or it is not. And, our life shows it either way also.

Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 05/13/06 06:30:01 PM Age 40, MD
WOW! Bryan, IN 20 years of ministry and almost half a centurary since professing Christ, I think you must be the first person I have ever met or read about that doen't need to be incouraged to take time alone for their relationship with the Lord. Brother your way off base on this one and seem more than a little out of touch, not only with those of us who admit to our struggles but with your own as well. It really does sound like someone went looking for a witch hunt to me.



Re: Re: Holy Week
Posted On: 05/11/06 06:36:03 PM Age 53, CA
I am sorry but I must differ with you regarding born again believers in the Catholic Church. That is like stating that there are born again believers in Islamic mosques or in Mormon temples. Would anyone who has been saved by our God and been filled with the Holy Spirit Who leads us into ALL truth stay in Islam or Mormonism? Of course not! Then why do some believers seem to believe that there are born again believers in the Catholic church? Is it any less of an abomination to our God because they speak about Jesus? Islam and Mormonism also speak about Jesus. But which Jesus are they speaking about? Certainly not the Jesus of the Bible who we know and love. The Catholic Jesus is a demonic counterfeit of the God who created us and came and died on the cross for our sins. Jesus stated "It is finished," but the Catholic Jesus did not secure salvation and today Catholics must work and work and work to obtain salvation and they also must put their trust in Mary instead of Jesus. I need not go on but I emphatically state that if one is filled with the Holy Spirit Who leads us into ALL truth then that person will be able to discern the blasphemous teachings of the Catholic church and will come out of this idolatrous counterfeit.

Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 05/08/06 01:23:42 PM Age 53, WI
Brian, I fully agree that your description of how the DVD unfolded seemed like a no-brainer when you already, Love and Serve our Lord.I have not seen it.You are good and faithful to have studied it. Sounds like another (Counterfeit - kept alive by the demons of time and aided by the new age thought)coming through perhaps well meaning people but ideas to keep unstable, perhaps back-sliding Heiffers, and (every wind of doctrine followers) on a (new revelation trail) Is there such a thing as a generic Christian? Did the Bible mention that in the end times...many will be decieved???? We are told repeatedly to "Beware of strange doctines" God looks into the heart and sees our intentions. The Spirit is busy, along with the Angelic Host protecting true believers. But, there are too many people telling too many people; how to be the Right Kind of Christian. Why replace The Way(which is Jesus Himself, given to you through your redemption- come to live inside your heart forever) with (How to get to the Way?)Is my way better than your way???!!! JESUS IS - WAS and ALWAYS will be THE WAY; if you're too busy to hear Him...who lives in your Heart)think not to worry about practising "contemplative prayer". Jesus has said to the church in Revelation "Return to your first love and do the works I have asked of you" If your First Love is not Jesus Himself, there is no way to reach God. If you used to hear God and now you can't hear God - throw yourself on the alter and "beg for mercy" because He is soon coming and loves you. "It would be good if we are "Prepared". All the same....We all are being tested mightily. All the same... The devil is working round the clock to shake, to break, to fake, to take our confidence as "fellow belivers" and to imply that "we don't stand a chance in Hell".. Agree with Him quickly and remind yourself and rebuke satan...and say.. "Jesus is the faithful witness and the finisher of my faith." "He, and He alone will take care of "His Own". Jesus said in the Gospel of John..chapter 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Dear Loved ones...He then goes on to say And I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." Blessed assurance, Iam His and He is mine. It's a forever Promise from you know who. Anne Kraemer



Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 04/27/06 04:01:53 PM Age 27, TX
Well put. Thank you. Sarah in TX

Re: Re: Re: Re: Holy Week
Posted On: 04/26/06 10:35:28 AM Age 56, AR
Dear VA, Good for you!! Being born again solves all our hurts if we give them to God through faith, doesn't it? Love, Brenda



Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Watched the
Posted On: 04/26/06 09:12:28 AM Age 27, TX
"Without getting into some very controversial subjects, I must say, however, that you've certainly got this whole thing licked, don't you?" Was that meant to be as hurtful as it sounded? "But you still did not explain what causes the falling away and what are you going to do to about it? Whether or not you are going to warn anyone about it? " What causes the great falling away? The anti-christ. The persecution of the Christians. It's easy to be a 'christian' when things are going well. How many fake Christians do you think are in Sudan, Iraq, North korea, China, ect? When it becomes dangerous worldwide to be a Christian only the true born again Christians will still hold fast to His Name. I don't believe that it is merely warned of in Scripture. I believe it is prophesied. In fact, I believe that it is neccesary and ordained by God to hapen. So I am not going to do anything to prevent it. I don't need to go around like chicken little flapping my wings and warning of the apostacy. I simply tell the truth to all who will listen- there are many who say they follow Christ but in the end they will hear "Depart from me, I NEVER KNEW YOU." Not "I knew you at one time but you turned from me." Sarah in TX

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