My Former New Age Life & the Danger of Contemplative PrayerBy Brian Flynn <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Thirteen 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.
Four 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 essentially died out and did not regain prominence 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 Hearts 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."
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)
Legitimate mysticism was always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and was never based on a method for the changing of consciousness. In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God who initiated the trance and facilitated it.
After a recent seminar I gave in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Minneapolis a supporter of contemplative prayer challenged my position. He stated that he had been a Christian for 25 years and if I had been a Christian for as long as he had I would be able to discern God's voice. I then asked him how did he know that it was God's voice the very first time he performed contemplative prayer? He had no answer. The voice that he heard in his mind all these years may have the same one but it was not God. Throughout the gospel God has communicated to those of His choosing and the time of His choosing, but never by a practice that man initiated.
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.
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