A Closer Look at Contemplative Prayer and Lectio Divina

Recently, I needed to do some study on the BE STILL DVD which was put out on the “Christian” market a few years ago. Basically, it is a teaching of contemplative prayer and lectio divina taken directly from the practices of Buddhism, Hinduism and Catholicism and taught to non-suspecting Christians as ways of meditating and gaining deeper knowledge of God. (Attention x-charismaniacs, haven’t we heard this before…??? Yes! This is another push for “hearing the voice of God”.)

I believe a correct definition of divination is the attempt to connect with God or the “divine” to gain knowledge in a practice outside standard Christian methods given to us in the bible. Divination is forbidden by our God. We call that result Gnostic.

Here’s Miriam Webster’s take on it –

Main Entry: div·i·na·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌdi-və-ˈnā-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English divinacioun, from Latin divination-, divinatio, from divinare
Date: 14th century

1 : the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers
2 : unusual insight : intuitive perception

di·vi·na·to·ry \də-ˈvi-nə-ˌtȯr-ē, də-ˈvī-nə-, ˈdi-və-nə-\ adjective

My article shows a little of the history of these mystical practices and the connection with eastern mysticism as taught by Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Dallas Willard and Richard Foster.   If Foster is such a great Christian teacher, what’s he doing messing with this stuff? As for that matter what about Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Priscilla Shirer, and Dr. Henry Cloud, all of who claim to stand for and teach the word of God? Jesus warned many would come in His name(Matthew 24:5).  Again, as I have often pointed out, it is not enough for me that they do, the catch is what they say next. In other words ALL of their teaching should point back to Jesus and should be easily identified in the bible. If not, they are bringing another doctrine or another gospel and should not be received (2 John 1:10).

The teaching on this DVD is not in accordance with biblical meditation and prayer. They are not even close!

Concerns regarding the Be Still DVD

 

  • The main scripture Psalm 46:10 is taken out of its true meaning.
  • It is produced by Fox Entertainment, having no connection with Christianity.
  • Speakers are only quoted and the thoughts are completely disjointed; many of whom are not Christians. The biggest problem lies in what is not said. The context is very misleading as Fox has capped all these people and their thoughts together and labeled it Christianity, which it is not. (A note if you have not seen the DVD, a good portion of the recording is made up of snippets of conversation taken from 11 or so different people.
  • Contemplative prayer/lectio divina have no basis in the word of God
  • Much attention is given to Catholic Mystics, again no connection with scripture but rather subjective supernatural experiences, some of which are of the occult.
  • The practice of meditation taught at the end of the DVD is not one of the Christian faith. Meditation is a very dangerous practice.
  • New believers or those who are not grounded in the word and those seeking an experience will be deceived.
  • Women will be exposed to the phrases contemplative prayer and lectio divina and seek other resources.
  • Some will seek out other books and teachings by Dallas Willard and Richard Foster

It doesn’t appear that the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God”  taken from Psalm 46:10 has the same biblical meaning as the stated in the DVD. It is not to be still as in silence or meditation, but to recognize who God is, and is a warning to His enemies and hope to His people.  So the connection between the words “Be Still” and the claim to be silent, quiet or mediate is not a valid one.

NKJVNIV

ESV

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! 
NASB 10“Cease striving and (A)know that I am God;
I will be (B)exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
AMP 10Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!  Cross references:  
  1. Psalm 46:10 : Ps 100:3 Know that the LORD, He [is] God; [It is] He [who] has made us, and not we ourselves; [fn] [We are] His people and the sheep of His pasture.
  2. Psalm 46:10 : Is 2:11, 17 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.   v.17 The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; The LORD alone will be exalted in that day,

 

Matthew Henry Commentary on Psalm 46:10  from Blue Letter Bible dot com-http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=4&contentID=1169&commInfo=5&topic=Psalms

1. For his own glory (v. 10): Be still, and know that I am God. (1.) Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: he that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in spite of all their impotent malice against his name and honour, he will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. Men will set up themselves, will have their own way and do their own will; but let them know that God will be exalted, he will have his way will do his own will, will glorify his own name, and wherein they deal proudly he will be above them, and make them know that he is so. (2.) Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen; let him alone to maintain his honour, to fulfil his own counsels and to support his own interest in the world. Though we be depressed, yet let us not be dejected, for we are sure that God will be exalted, and that may satisfy us; he will work for his great name, and then no matter what becomes of our little names. When we pray, Father, glorify thy name, we ought to exercise faith upon the answer given to that prayer when Christ himself prayed it, I have both glorified it and I will glorify it yet again. Amen, Lord, so be it.

Quotes from the Be Still DVD

Beth Moore – “God’s word is so clear that if we are not still before Him we will never truly know to the depths and marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness, we’ve got to have time to sit before Him and know that He is…… If we aren’t careful we are going to lose the art of meditation”

Those who believe Beth Moore to be a great bible teacher may think again at this comment. Spending time in prayer and bible reading/study is the way we come to know the Lord. However, this is not the teaching on the Be Still DVD that Beth Moore is agrees with and supports in these comments. Yes, Jesus did leave the crowds and taught his disciples to do the same thing. But that was to have a time of rest and to pray, not enter into “stillness” or even practice an “art of meditation”.

Peter Kreeft, PhD, Philosopher, quoting Kierkegaard – “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world I would prescribe silence. Because even if the word of God was proclaimed in all of its fullness it would not be heard. There’s too much noise. So begin with silence.”

For all the ills of the world, the remedy is the Messiah Jesus Christ, not silence! John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In preaching the gospel, we are told to do it, not enter into silence, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

It is through the work of the Holy Spirit in the power of God that the world “hears the gospel”, not through an altered state of consciousness in silence.

These quotes sound good, but have no basis in scripture and instead support and encourage contemplative prayer or mediation.

  • Contemplative methods have been learned from a group of men known as and referred to as “desert fathers”.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1126

The Desert Fathers were Early Coptic who lived in the Egyptian Nitrate desert and had some deep insights, but they were immersed in some Eastern methodologies that troubles a great many past and current scholars. Here is an excerpt from my 2006 article found here: http://www.eternalpath.com/comtemprayer.html.

In the early Middle Ages during the 4th through 6th centuries, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They were known to history as the Desert Fathers. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks. They were the ones who first promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. “The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist enunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.’” From A Time of Departing, p. 42, 2nd ed. (Ray Yungen)

  • Contemplative prayer is not a method of biblical prayer as taught by Jesus in which we ask the Father for what we need.  It is found in other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Catholicism and practiced in transcendental mediation and yoga – meditation, mantra, breathing, breath prayers and becoming one (at-one-ness) with the divine/consciousness. This practice has found its way into many churches that now practice and teach this type of prayer even though it has no root in scripture.  According to Richard Foster, the practice can prove to be very dangerous, as spirits who do not respond to God can play a part. In truth, God would not want His people to be subject to such danger. Rather than encourage us, He warns against the practice of divination and the occult.

 

http://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html

Contemplative prayer, also known as “centering prayer,” is a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. While contemplative prayer is done differently in the various groups that practice it, there are similarities. Contemplative prayer involves choosing a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. Contemplative prayer usually includes sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settling briefly and silently, introducing the sacred word. When a contemplative pray-er becomes aware of thoughts, he/she is to return ever so gently to the sacred word.

Prayer  is always addressed to the Father God using words

Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

John 17:1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father,…

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Meditation from a Christian standpoint

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your  mind.’

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

Psalm 119:15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.

Often quoted by evangelical contemplatives such as Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen, this 14th century book of contemplation is described this way:
“A BOOK OF CONTEMPLATION THE WHICH IS CALLED THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, IN THE WHICH A SOUL IS ONED WITH GOD”

From The Cloud of Unknowing: “Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two … With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.”

“In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.”

The premise here is that in order to really know God, mysticism must be practiced–the mind has to be shut down or turned off so that the cloud of unknowing, where the presence of God awaits, can be experienced. Practitioners of this method believe that if the sacred words are Christian, you will get Christ–it is simply a matter of intent even though the method is identical to occult and Eastern practices.

“Each being has as his god only his particular Lord; he cannot possibly have the whole.” The whole reality of God is unknowable on the particular Word spoken in our own being in what Al-Arabi called “The Cloud of Blindness, ” comparable with the 14th Century, unknown Christian Mystic who wrote, “The Cloud of Unknowing.”
IBN EL-ARABI

  • The practice of Lectio Divina is not found in the bible and according to those who teach and practice this form of meditation it can be done using any kind of book or inspirational writing. The push for experiences with God is the same as those practiced in the false hyper charismatic and the false prophetic who draw from “hearing the voice of God” for themselves and on the behalf of others. The idea behind LD is to experience the “divine” to gain knowledge through a supernatural experience initiated by the person and used in conjunction with contemplative methods or meditation. It encourages the person to use what they can from the reading. From a biblical standpoint this method teaches the person to take the bible out of context and personalize its message. Simply put, we can make the bible say whatever we need it to say at that moment. In addition, if using a text other than the bible it is assumed that “God” speaks through that particular text. This is not true, as God only speaks to us through His Word.

http://www.gotquestions.org/lectio-divina.html

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” “spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. The principles of lectio divina were expressed around the year A.D. 220 and practiced by Catholic monks, especially the monastic rules of Sts. Pachomius, Augustine, Basil, and Benedict.

The practice of lectio divina is currently very popular among Catholics and gnostics, and is gaining acceptance as an integral part of the devotional practices of the Emerging Church. Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2005 speech, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart.” Lectio is also said to be adaptable for people of other faiths in reading their scripture—whether that be the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah, or the Koran. Non-Christians may simply make suitable modifications of the method to accommodate secular traditions. Further, the four principles of lectio divina can also be adapted to the four Jungian psychological principles of sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling.

Lectio – Reading the Bible passage gently and slowly several times. The passage itself is not as important as the savoring of each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow speaks to the practitioner.

Meditatio – Reflecting on the text of the passage and thinking about how it applies to one’s own life. This is considered to be a very personal reading of the Scripture and very personal application.

Oratio – Responding to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but is thought to be more of the beginning of a conversation with God.

Contemplatio – Listening to God. This is a freeing of oneself from one’s own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God.

Naturally, the connection between Bible reading and prayer is one to be encouraged; they should always go together. However, the dangers inherent in this kind of practice, and its astonishing similarity to transcendental meditation and other dangerous rituals, should be carefully considered. It has the potential to become, and often does become, a pursuit of mystical experience where the goal is to empty and free the mind and empower oneself. The Christian, on the other hand, uses the Scriptures to pursue the knowledge of God, wisdom, and holiness through the objective meaning of the text with the aim of transforming the mind according to truth.

  • Emergents/Contemplatives- I’ve listed some here that apply to the information on the DVD and to show the connectivity between them, eastern religions, which is New Age Thought, and to each other– Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Richard Foster. (FYI, other names are Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Henri Nouwen, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo, Brennan Manning, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Sue Monk Kidd, Phyllis Tickle)

Thomas Merton http://www.mertoninstitute.org/

We are already one.  But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are. Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton is one of the most influential American spiritual writers of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Merton wrote over seventy other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of sixteen. On December 10, 1941, he entered the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), one of the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic orders.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani prior to his untimely death in 1968 stimulated profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing transformation impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960’s. Referring to racism and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called “certainly the great example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States.” For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk’s trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dalai Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known.

—————————————-

Contemplation is the awareness and realization, even in some sense experience, of what each Christian obscurely believes: “It is now no longer that I live but Christ lives in me.”

Hence contemplation is more than a consideration of abstract truths about God, more even than affective meditation on the things we believe. It is awakening, enlightenment, and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God’s creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom is can always return.

Hence contemplation is a sudden gift of awareness, an awakening to the Real within all that is real. A vivid awareness of infinite Being at the roots of our own limited being. An awareness of our contingent reality as received, as a present from God, as free gift of love. This is the existential contact of which we speak when we use the metaphor of being “touched by God.”

Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves are word of His. But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo.

We ourselves become His echo and His answer. It is as if in creating us God asked a question and in awakening us to contemplation He answered the question, so that the contemplative is at the same time, question and answer.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, pp. 3, 5

Thomas Keatinghttp://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_people_keating

Fr. Thomas Keating is a founding member and the spiritual guide of Contemplative Outreach, LTD. He has served on Contemplative Outreach’s Board of Trustees since the organization’s beginning and is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board. Fr. Keating is one of the principal architects and teachers of the Christian contemplative prayer movement and, in many ways, Contemplative Outreach is a manifestation of his longtime desire to contribute to the recovery of the contemplative dimension of Christianity.

Fr. Keating’s interest in contemplative prayer began during his freshman year at Yale University in 1940 when he became aware of the Church’s history and of the writings of Christian mystics. Prompted by these studies and time spent in prayer and meditation, he experienced a profound realization that, on a spiritual level, the Scriptures call people to a personal relationship with God.

During Fr. Keating’s term as abbot at St. Joseph’s and in response to the reforms of Vatican II, he invited teachers from the East to the monastery. As a result of this exposure to Eastern spiritual traditions, Fr. Keating and several of the monks at St. Joseph’s were led to develop the modern form of Christian contemplative prayer called Centering Prayer. Fr. Keating was a central figure in the initiation of the Centering Prayer movement. He offered Centering Prayer workshops and retreats to clergy and laypeople and authored articles and books on the method and fruits of Centering Prayer.

http://in.integralinstitute.org/contributor.aspx?id=38
The contemporary form of centering prayer was initially developed during Keating’s tenure as abbot at St. Joseph’s, where he was inspired by the Second Vatican Council’s call for spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church. Keating would soon seek ways to keep young Catholics from leaving the Church in search of more contemplative—and Eastern—paths.

With the help of Keating and other Christian contemplatives like Thomas Merton, John Main, and Basil Pennington, the movement struck an obvious chord, drawing thousands of Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, and others to workshops and retreats, especially the ten-day retreats at St. Benedict’s, which often fill up a year in advance.

It helps that Keating also has an unusually open-minded attitude towards the meditative practices of other traditions and has studied with spiritual teachers from a variety of Hindu and Buddhist lineages, for this lead to the creation of the Snowmass Interreligious Conference in 1982, where teachers from diverse paths meet regularly to compare notes and evaluate the successes and failures of their respective practices. Other organizations graced by the presence of Keating include the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (which sponsors exchanges between the monks and nuns of every religion), and the International Committee for Peace Council.

Richard Foster  – Quaker Mystic, biggest claim in earlier years is his book “Celebration of Discipline” published 30 years ago. He is said to have picked up the “mantle” of Thomas Merton. Foster may use the name of the Lord, but his teachings clearly do not reflect that of the gospel or sound biblical teaching. He is founder of Renovare, a non- profit organization which supports and teaches methods of spiritual formation. He was the lead editor for the Life with God bible. http://www.renovare.us/ Foster believes in, practices and teaches the use of guided imagery or visual imagination. See article from CIC at the end of this document.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2152

To capsulate, Richard Foster believes that anyone can practice the spiritual disciplines, including the discipline of going into the silence, and become more like Christ. Foster, who emulates the late panentheist monk, Thomas Merton, would agree with Merton who believed that divinity resides in every human being. That is why Foster did not hesitate to include panentheist Thomas Kelly in his book, Streams of Living Water. Foster quoted Kelly as saying “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return” (A Testament of Devotion, p. 29). It is in that same book, Kelly says that “[i]n that abiding yet energizing Center we are all [all human beings] made one” (p.38).

It is this belief that all is one and that this oneness can be realized through meditation that makes Foster’s spirituality so dangerous and contrary to biblical Christianity. In Streams of Living Water, Foster talks about “a vision of an all-inclusive people.” This vision would fit Henri Nouwen’s calling who said: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”(From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book, page 51, 1998 Hardcover Edition)

No one can argue that Celebration of Discipline and Richard Foster have had a tremendous influence in Christian spirituality today. But what must come to the table of discussion in Christian circles is is this influence for the better or for the worse?

http://apprising.org/2008/11/28/richard-foster-contemplative-prayer-the-wordless-baptism-into-the-silence-of-god/

Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism… Contemplative Prayer is the one discipline that can free us from our addiction to words. Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence… It is recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer…

A Warning And A Precaution

At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…

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.

Richard Foster, (Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home, 155, 156, 157)

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fosterquotes.htm

“Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood … his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion …[he is] a gifted teacher …” (Spiritual Classics – p.17)

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3071

The Christianity Today article defines Spiritual Formation as:

Formation, like the forming of a pot from clay, brings to mind shaping and molding, helping something potential become something actual. Spiritual formation speaks of a shaping process with reference to the spiritual dimension of a person’s life. Christian spiritual formation thus refers to the process by which believers become more fully conformed and united to Christ.

Such a definition would hardly send up red flags. But what this definition excludes is how this “process” of conforming and uniting to Christ takes place, and who is eligible to participate in such a process.

The “how” is done through spiritual disciplines, mainly through the discipline of the silence. The silence is an altered state that is reached through mantra meditation, breath prayers, or some other meditative practice. The idea behind it is that if you go into this silent state, you will hear from God, and He will transform you to be like Christ. The “who” (who can practice these disciplines and become like Christ) is anyone (according to Foster and other proponents of Spiritual Formation). A Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, even an atheist — anyone at all can benefit from the spiritual disciplines and become like Christ (the question is which Christ).

____________________________

A Biblically based commentary on current issues that impact you

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue112.htm

Richard Foster—Celebration of Deception

by Bob DeWaay

In February 2008, Christianity Today ran a glowing cover story about Evangelicalism’s recent embrace of medieval Roman Catholic mysticism entitled The Future lies in the Past.1 The article traced the beginning of the movement as follows: “The movement seems to have exploded in a 24-month period in 1977-1978, which saw the publication of Richard Foster’s bestselling Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth and Robert Webber’s Common Roots: A Call to Evangelical Maturity.”2

The article views Foster as one who continues to guide the movement: “From Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and living practicing monks and nuns, they [those going back to Roman Catholic mysticism] must learn both the strengths and the limits of the historical ascetic disciplines.”3 So Foster was instrumental in starting a movement that is still growing 30-plus years later.

The irony about this particular CIC regarding Foster’s 1978 book is that in 1978 I myself was living in a Christian community committed to practicing much of what he promotes in Celebration of Discipline (even though we had not learned it from him directly). So I am not criticizing a practice about which I know nothing (or one in which I have no experience). I am criticizing a practice I foolishly allowed to deceive me for a significant portion of my early Christian life. When it comes to being deceived by mysticism, I have had abundant involvement. The only way I escaped it was through discovering and adopting the Reformation principle of sola scriptura.

In this article I will show that Foster’s “journey inward” is unbiblical and dangerous. I will show that most of the spiritual disciplines that he calls “means of grace” are no means of grace at all—but a means of putting oneself under spiritual deception.

The Journey Inward

The Bible nowhere describes an inward journey to explore the realm of the spirit. God chose to reveal the truth about spiritual reality through His ordained, Spirit-inspired, biblical writers. What is spiritual and not revealed by God is of the occult and, therefore, forbidden. We have discussed this in many articles and have produced DVD seminars on the topic. But the concept of sola scriptura is totally lost on mystics such as Richard Foster. They, like the enthusiasts that Calvin and Luther warned against, believe they can gain valid and useful knowledge of spiritual things through direct, personal inspiration.

Foster describes the idea of the disciplines that are the topic of his book: “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”4 So Foster has conceptually repudiated sola scriptura on page one to replace it with a journey inward to explore the realm of spirits. Something must have been seriously amiss in evangelicalism already in 1978 to render this book a bestseller! It ought to have been repudiated on the spot. In a footnote to that statement Foster writes, “In one form or another all of the devotional masters have affirmed the necessity of the Disciplines” (Foster: 1). The devotional “masters,” by the way, are mostly Roman Catholics who never were committed to the principle of sola scriptura. It is not surprising that they looked for spirituality through experimentation. But as an “inner light” Quaker, Foster never was committed to sola scriptura either.

Forgetting that the Bible forbids divination, Foster explains what he is after:

[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. . . . They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit. (Foster: 13)

Realizing that his readers would likely take this as an endorsement of Eastern religions, he makes a disclaimer that it is not Transcendental Meditation (TM) or something of that ilk: “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Foster: 15). But what Foster wishes us to fill our minds with are personal revelations from the spirit realm that we naively are to think are the voice of God. This sort of meditation is not meditating on what God has said, but uses a technique to explore the spirit world. In other words, it is divination.

What we learn about the spirit realm either is revealed by God (once for all in Scripture) or gleaned by man-made techniques. That distinction is the difference between Christianity and paganism. Only Bible believers know what God has said about Himself and what He wishes to reveal about the unseen spirit world. Foster’s material continues to be popular because we live in an age where being spiritual pioneers on a journey into the unseen realm of the spirits is the essence of popular piety. It is the spirituality of secular talk shows.

To fully understand the degree of Foster’s deception, he even calls these techniques to the inner journey “means of grace”: “They [the Disciplines] are God’s means of grace” (Foster: 6). As with all who teach spiritual disciplines, there are no boundaries to these false “means.” For example, consider this recommended practice: “After you have gained some proficiency in centering down, add a five- to ten-minute meditation on some aspect of the creation. Choose something in the created order: tree, plant, bird, leaf, cloud, and each day ponder it carefully and prayerfully” (Foster 25). This after he had just taught breathing exercises (a means of “centering down”). Then he makes a startling claim: “We should not bypass this means of God’s grace” (Foster: 25). And there we have it: meditating of a leaf can be a means of grace!

Foster’s journey inward is to discover a spirit world that is available for any who search for it: “How then do we come to believe in a world of the spirit? Is it by blind faith? Not at all. The inner reality of the spiritual world is available to all who are willing to search for it” (Foster: 18). He claims that this spiritual search is analogous to scientific experimentation. Never mind that every pagan culture that has existed has believed in the “spiritual world.”

Spirituality of the Imagination

The Bible does not have anything good so say about the imagination. For example: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the Lord'” (Jeremiah 23:16). A search of the KJV for “imagination” yields 14 verses, and in each case it is a bad thing. According to the Bible, the imagination is where people go when they do not want to listen to God.

However, for Foster the imagination is central: “The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. We fail today to appreciate its tremendous power. The imagination is stronger than conceptual thought and stronger than the will” (Foster: 22). Some of the authorities he cites on this point are C. G. Jung, Ignatius of Loyola, and Morton Kelsey. Jung is famous for his concept of the collective unconscious, and Kelsey was an Episcopal priest committed to Jungian principles. Kelsey wrote many books promoting mysticism. The advice Foster gleans from these teachers is that we must learn to think in images and take our dreams to be a possible doorway into the spirit world. Foster claims that dreams are something we already have and can help us develop the use of the imagination. He says, “Keeping a journal of our dreams is a way of taking them seriously” (Foster: 23).

There is, Foster warns, a danger to this process: “At the same time [that we ask for dreams to be God speaking to us], it is wise to pray a prayer of protection, since to open ourselves to spiritual influence can be dangerous as well as profitable” (Foster: 23). I would say that is asking God to protect us as we use various techniques to go where He does not want us to go (into the world of the spirits to gain information). The danger he warns of is far greater than Foster imagines. Those who take the journey inward will be deceived—every time! We are not equipped to gain spiritual information from that realm. That is why God speaks to us through His ordained mediators (the inspired Biblical writers); otherwise we would be fishing in the dark in a medium we are not suited for.

Foster teaches his readers to use their imaginations to experience Biblical stories with the five physical senses. Here is what he claims will happen:

As you enter the story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living present-tense experience for Him. Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you. (Foster: 26)

Showing that Foster’s ideas are still influential in our day, Greg Boyd cites some of Foster’s words here to support what he calls “cataphatic prayer” which uses the imagination and images as a means to contact God and gain spiritual information.5 Those who endorse this practice assume they are not being deceived by spirits, but I cannot see on what grounds.

Foster prescribes a practice using one’s imagination that mimics astral projection to the degree that he actually includes a footnote disclaimer stating that it is not astral projection (Foster 28). It begins by telling his readers to imagine themselves going out into nature into a beautiful place (Boyd describes how he practices this, as well as its results6). After enjoying the sights and smells (in your imagination) these are the next steps:

In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. . . Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. Note carefully any instruction given. With time and experience you will be able to distinguish readily between mere human thought that may bubble up to the conscious mind and the True Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart. (Foster: 27, 28)

I must ask how one knows whether “True Spirit” is not a deceiving one? Mysticism’s fatal flaw is that it naively assumes that Christians having subjective religious experiences must therefore be having Christian experiences that are truly from God—even if the experiences were provoked through unbiblical practices similar to those used by pagans.

Mental Alchemy

Foster’s approach to prayer is laced with mysticism as well. He claims that prayer needs to be learned from people who have the right experiences and are “masters” who know what they are doing. Foster does not teach ordinary prayer, whereby we bring our needs and requests to the Lord and know that He hears us (because He promised that He does). Here is why he thinks such prayer fails:

Often people will pray and pray with all the faith in the world, but nothing happens. Naturally, they were not contacting the channel. We begin praying for others by first centering down and listening to the quiet thunder of the Lord of hosts. Attuning ourselves to divine breathings is spiritual work, but without it our praying is vain repetition (Mt. 6:7). Listening to the Lord is the first thing, the second thing, and the third thing necessary for successful intercession. (Foster: 34)

Of course this means we have to become mystics if we want to pray.

He teaches that we first must hear personal revelations from God, using meditation techniques such as he teaches, before we pray. He says: “The beginning point, then, in learning to pray for others is to listen for guidance . . . This inner “yes” is the divine authorization for you to pray for the person or situation” (Foster: 35). No! Foster is wrong! The only authorization we need to pray is the Biblical command to pray—not personal revelations.

For Foster, meditation (mystical style) is necessary but not sufficient. He also brings the imagination into the process: “As with meditation, the imagination is a powerful tool in the work of prayer” (Foster: 36). He credits Agnes Sanford7 for helping him see the value of using the imagination in praying. Foster writes, “Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can ‘see’ in our mind’s eye a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing it will be so” (Foster: 36). Sanford got her ideas from Theosophy, New Thought, Jung, and Emmet Fox. These ideas, echoed by Foster, come from the unbiblical “mind over matter” thinking of that era. That kind of thinking uses creative visualization to change reality or channel spiritual power. Foster suggests, “Imagine the light of Christ flowing through your hands and healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day” (Foster: 39).

In his 1985 book, The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt labeled creative visualization such as what Foster promotes, “mental alchemy.”8 Hunt warned the church that Foster promoted such mental alchemy in Celebration of Discipline, and as we have shown, he, in fact, does. So how is it that 24 years after Hunt’s warning Foster is more popular than ever with Evangelicals? The answer is end times deception. Now, a huge movement that claims to be a reformation promoting Foster, Willard and their versions of mysticism does exist (i.e., The Emergent Church). Things have gotten so very much worse.

Spiritual Directors

Once mysticism and the supposed need to gain personal revelations from God are embraced, there arises a need for new “masters” who are better at navigating the spirit world. Pagan societies have always had such persons. They are called “shamans.” Eastern religion calls them “gurus.” Deceived Christians call them “spiritual directors.” Foster explains, “In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director” (Foster: 159). The problem, according to Foster, is that the churches (in 1978) lacked “living masters”:

No doubt part of the surge of interest in Eastern meditation is because the churches have abrogated the field. How depressing for a university student, seeking to know the Christian teaching on meditation, to discover that there are so few living masters of contemplative prayer and that nearly all of the serious writings on the subject are seven or more centuries old. No wonder he or she turns to Zen, Yoga, or TM. (Foster: 14)

Foster’s dream has come true. Today people can even practice Yoga in a Christian church. We have Christian TM; it is called contemplative prayer. Yes, Eastern religion has come right into the church, and Foster has helped usher it in.

But what about “living masters” or spiritual directors? In 1972 Morton Kelsey lamented their lack: “Indeed I would suggest that everyone who is serious about relating to the spiritual realm find himself a spiritual director, if there were more men trained and experienced in this way.”9 That “problem” has been solved in a huge way. Evangelical theology schools are now offering masters degrees in “spiritual formation” in order to equip people to be “spiritual directors.” Here is what Biola University says about its program: “This degree is designed to equip men and women for the ministry of spiritual direction, discipleship, formation and soul care in the local church and for further academic training in spiritual formation.”10 Spiritual Directors International will help you find a spiritual director regardless of your religion.11 Richard Foster’s own Renovare, which purports to “encourage renewal in the Christian church,” has a list of spiritual direction programs.12

Foster explains the purpose of the spiritual director: “He is the means of God to open the path to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit” (Foster: 160). Apparently, in a full-blown rejection of sola scriptura where the Holy Spirit’s teaching is mediated to the church through the Biblical writers only, we need mediators for personal revelations beyond scripture.

Foster explains how spiritual directors lead: “He leads only by the force of his own personal holiness” (Foster: 160). In Roman Catholicism the Pope is called “his holiness” and in Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama is called “his holiness” but now evangelicals are developing a class of people who evidently deserve the title. How exactly are we to judge when someone has gained “personal holiness” sufficient to be a spiritual director and mediate spirituality to others? Foster says, “Though the director has obviously advanced further into the inner depths, the two [master and disciple] are together learning and growing in the realm of the Spirit” (Foster: 160). Foster cites Roman Catholic mystic Thomas Merton about how this works: “The spiritual director was something of a ‘spiritual father who begot the perfect life in the soul of his disciple by his instructions first of all, but also by his prayer, his sanctity and his example. He was . . . a kind of ‘sacrament’ of the Lord’s presence in the ecclesiastical community” (Foster: 161).

End Times Delusion

When it comes to end times deception, Foster is on the cutting edge of embracing it. Consider what he wrote: “In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. . . . Individuals can be found here and there whose hearts burn with divine fire” (Foster: 150). Such inclinations have led to massive deception. They smack of the Latter Rain deception, now embodied in such false teachers as Rick Joyner and Mike Bickle. They are elitist. They are in line with the beliefs of the Emergent Church as well. He also says: “Our century has yet to see the breaking forth of the apostolic church of the Spirit” (Foster: 150). Now we have the New Apostolic Reformation claiming to be just that. Foster’s ideas now embody the massive apostasy and end times deception that characterize our age.

Foster’s teachings have taken the church as far away from the Reformation principle of sola scriptura as the Roman Catholic Church ever was. The only thing left is for them to bring us all the way back to Rome. Christianity Today praises Foster for pointing us in that direction.

In early 2008 I wrote a CIC article about how abandoning the principle of sola scriptura would lead evangelicals back to Rome.13 It was partly a response to the CT article praising mysticism. The response I received was rather unexpected. I was contacted by former evangelicals who had rejected sola scriptura and had gone back to Rome! They wanted to debate me about sola scriptura. Sadly, my point was proven. As a response to their misguided challenge our church hosted a seminar on sola scriptura, called Faith at Risk 4. In the seminar Gary Gilley and I defended the scriptures as the sole authority for the church.14

The aforementioned CT article discusses a new monasticism, former evangelical leaders converting to Roman Catholicism, and mystical practices like lectio divina—and they call all of it a good and hopeful thing. Chris Armstrong, the author of the article, concluded, “That they [evangelicals] are receiving good guidance on this road from wise teachers [Foster and Willard] is reason to believe that Christ is guiding the process. And that they are meeting and learning from fellow Christians in the other two great confessions, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox, is reason to rejoice in the power of love.”15

Who is left to defend the principles of the Reformation? One would think Reformed theologians are, but they aren’t doing their job. In the last CIC article we mentioned Reformed theologian Donald Whitney who wrote: “Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline has been the most popular book on the subject of the Spiritual Disciplines in the last half of the twentieth century. The great contribution of this work is the reminder that the Spiritual Disciplines, which many see as restrictive and binding, are actually means to spiritual freedom.”16 That from a teacher in a Reformed seminary?

If a book that teaches Christian TM, Christian astral projection and mental alchemy by means of the imagination is a “great contribution,” then something is seriously wrong here. The delusion is so widespread that I see no other explanation for it than the end time deception predicted by Paul: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1Timothy 4:1). Another passage warns: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2Timothy 4:3, 4).

That time now is here. We are accountable to God for what we believe and practice. Those who wish to persevere in the faith in this age of delusion must base their beliefs and practices only on the truths found in Scripture. Foster’s journey into the world of the spirits will deceive all who enter it.

Issue 112 – May / June 2009

End Notes

  1. Chris Armstong, “The Future lies in the Past” in Christianity Today, February 2008.
  2. Ibid. 24.
  3. Ibid. 29.
  4. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: Harper & Row, 1978) 1. All subsequent citations from this book will be bracketed within the text in this fashion: (Foster: 1).
  5. Greg Boyd, Seeing is Believing, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004). Boyd cites Foster to prove that the Lord will actually come to us through our use of “imaginative meditation.” I deal with this issue more fully in CIC issue 83 July/August, 2003: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue83.htm
  6. Ibid. 111-125.
  7. I write about Sanford’s inner healing theories in CIC Issue 96: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue96.htm
  8. Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity (Eugene: Harvest House, 1985) 138.
  9. Morton Kelsey, Encounter With God, (Bethany Fellowship: Minneapolis, 1972) 179.
  10. http://www.biola.edu/spiritualformation/programs/
  11. http://www.sdiworld.org
  12. http://www.renovare.org/journey_training_direction.htm
  13. CIC Issue 105; March/April 2008: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue105.htm
  14. That seminar is available here: http://www.cicstore.org/servlet/the-60/Faith-at-Risk-4/Detail
  15. Armstrong, Future
  16. Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1991) 23.

Published by Twin City Fellowship
Critical Issues Commentary
P.O. Box 26127
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
952-935-3100
pastorbob@twincityfellowship.com

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1995 The Lockman Foundation.

Dobson Joins Forces with NAR

On May 1st  Dr. James Dobson joins forces with some of America’s leaders, pastors and members of the NAR in the name of prayer to turn the nation and it’s people from its –wicked ways–.

How can this be so, when the NAR has its own god?

They call it-

Mayday 2010 A Day to Cry to God for a Nation in Distress

I’d say so, as we see the unstoppable tentacles of C Peter Wagner’s life’s work of false teaching spread throughout all areas of our country.

Distress?

Absolutely.

Let’s Pray

I’ve been reading around some and found that Mike Bickle from IHOP was to give  a prophetic word (I think tonight) at Rick Joyner’s church, Morningstar.  This is also the hang out of Todd Bentley, you know, the infamous Florida Outpouring nut whose claim to healing ministry is to kick, hit and assault his victims WWE style. I saw his twitter (iamtoddbentley) earlier that “something” is happening, revival, etc., the usual blurb.  I see on the Morningstar website they are advertising “Outpouring” meetings. So here we are again. And we knew it was coming.

Recently, I listened to a prophetic word at Morningstar given by Cindy Jacobs. She is very militant in her style and this word had some military points. I started to transcribe it, but just couldn’t make myself do it.

So I am thinking of this word, along with Rick Joyner’s prophecy or dream some time back about the bloody war between the gray coats (those who believe in scripture) and the blue coats (those who believe in experience).  Ok, someone else who has a little more Joyner background can probably quote this better than what I just did. I never read his stuff. So, if you know anything more, feel free to comment.

In addition, during the converging of these other rivers…IHOP, Bethel, Toronto, I started to wonder where is Todd Bentley, seeing as he was prophesied as the next wave, joined with Toronto and all these guys stuck by him after his fall.  And then I began to wonder, where is Bob Jones??? He is the main driving prophetic voice behind all of this.  Then I saw tonight  – Morningstar  – there on video giving a prophetic word about breaking off curses!  (More WOF stuff – in which a person speaking negatively about another forms a word curse with the power to do harm. Something like witchcraft. And if the curse is broken off or commanded to go! then the person is free from the curse and it’s harm.)  Never mind that Jesus Christ became the curse for us tho. Not for these guys, they have to do it their own way.

So here we are.

I am not going to bother with linking videos or going through who says what or why it’s wrong. I will put a couple of links to direct you and leave it at that. However, if you would like to comment on what you see, hear, etc. please do.

One thing, the most important thing is that we pray. These people aren’t coming together for a tea party, even tho there is a mad hatter behind it all. This militant stuff (if you listen to Jacobs you will see the connection) is bothering me more than the rest. This is not the first time I have considered that true Christians may be persecuted by those who claim Christ, but follow the false one.  So many of us have experienced their backlash when we have stood for the truth. We have experienced their “love” which isn’t love at all.

The culmination of all of these groups coming together under the guise of Christianity is precedent over anything before – ever. Many people are excited and revved up about his happening. They see God in this. They see revival. But because of all the false prophecy and teaching, the false signs and wonders, the backgrounds and associations of these leaders – I do not see God there with them. I do not. And, I don’t see this calming down at all from this point forward.  Regardless, we need direction from our Father. We need His protection. These deluded people need to repent and to be restored to holiness, to righteousness. And there is only One who can do that. It will not come from prophetic decrees and declarations. It will not come from angels. We cannot speak this into existence. It will only come when the veil of deception is ripped off their eyes and they become aware of their own sin. It will only come through the mighty power and presence of our God.  For those of us who have been there, we know what it will take.

Our God is mighty to save! So, please, let’s pray.

Here are your links:

Morningstar Website

Prophetic Words (Bob Jones, Cindy Jacobs)

Fresh Fire Ministries – Todd Bentley

Contemplative Centering Prayer – Ken Silva

Good article from Ken at Apprising Ministries. He keeps up on this stuff much better than I can!

CONTEMPLATIVE/CENTERING PRAYER

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Dec 30, 2009 in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism

This so-called “spiritual discipline” is the chief vehicle of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and is without question a ”Christian” form of transcendental meditation. Consider the following from Contemplative (Centering) Prayer:

In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.

This form of meditation, recently known as ‘Centering Prayer’ (from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity… (Online source)

The last statement is true to a point; as you’ll see in Keeping You Apprised Of: Contemplative/Centering Prayer it did not originate with Jesus or His Apostles, but circa third century from hermits in the desert of Egypt who’re romanticized today as “the desert fathers.” And as you can see the terms Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP) are synonymous for this practice of “wordless prayer.”

You’ll also see that practioners of CCP, such as Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, will often refer to CCP as “the silence.” Foster tells us:

Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism… Contemplative Prayer is the one discipline that can free us from our addiction to words. Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence… It is recreating silence to which we are called in Contemplative Prayer…

A Warning And A Precaution

At the outset I need to give a word of warning,… Contemplative Prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer… Contemplative prayer is for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles a bit and know something about the landscape of the spirit. In fact, those who work in the area of spiritual direction always look for signs of a maturing faith before encouraging individuals into Contemplative Prayer…

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. (Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home, 155, 156, 157)

CCP has no place in the Body of Christ; because if it did, when Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He would surely have mentioned this alleged ”wordless baptism” supposedly so necessary for, “Progress in intimacy with God [i.e. Law].” But the Master did not. How do we know; well, I’m glad you asked.

We know because God the Holy Spirit tells us in His inspired, inerrant, and infallible, text of Holy Scripture through His chosen vessel Luke:

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4, ESV)

I’m so glad Ken pointed that out. When I was the intercessor for the healing room ministry I simply asked God how do I pray.  I got the same answer.

Contemplative Connects to Calvary Chapel

Article From Lighthouse Trails

From me –If you know anyone involved with Calvary Chapel, you may want to forward this information their way.I know many cringed when Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith and Rick Warren were all together at Laurie’s Harvest Crusade this past summer.

“Soul at Rest” Women’s Conference Will Connect Women with Contemplative Advocate
For those who wonder if contemplative spirituality is still making strong inroads into the evangelical Christian church, below is an indicator that this mystical spirituality is moving full speed ahead. And for most Christian leaders, there are no questions asked.

North Coast Calvary Chapel: Women’s Conference Soul at Rest (November 6th-8th) will be featuring contemplative author Tricia McCary Rhodes as the speaker of the conference. Rhodes has been a contemplative advocate for many years. From Rhodes’ book, The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer, she states:

Take deep breaths, concentrating on relaxing your body. Establish a slow, rhythmic pattern. Breathe in God’s peace, and breathe out your stresses, distractions, and fears. Breathe in God’s love, forgiveness, and compassion, and breathe out your sins, failures, and frustrations. Make every effort to “stop the flow of talking going on within you–to slow it down until it comes to a halt.” (p. 28)

Ray Yungen reveals in his book A Time of Departing that Rhodes is quoting mystic Morton Kelsey in the above passage. Kelsey says: “You can find most of the New Age practices in the depth of Christianity. I believe that the Holy One [God] lives in every soul.”1 Of Rhodes, Yungen also makes note:

Rhodes shows her affinity to contemplative prayer when she states: “Contemplative Prayer penetrates our heart of hearts, probing the deepest rooms of our interior soul. It leaves no stone unturned, no darkness unlit…. It is wonderful and painful and through it He changes us into His likeness.” Rhodes encourages readers to use the Jesus Prayer in which the name of Jesus is focused on and repeated.* She also says what so many other contemplatives have said in their discontent with simple faith and their disillusionment with the power of the Word of God: “Reading, studying or memorizing God’s Word will only take us so far in our quest for spiritual growth.” … [C]ontemplatives teach that faith in Christ and dependence on His Word is just not enough–we need a trance-like mystical experience as well.2

A comment by me – This statement tells the driving force behind this movement as well as the one behind charismania.  The need for something more stemmed from discontentment in the practice of our own faith combined with methods not biblically taught, while still maintaining a Christian facade, results in the creation of a new religion and a god of their understanding. God is no longer to be revered, honored and feared, but changed into nothing more than a genie or a cheap experience with the expectation that he give to all who ask, fulfilling earthly desires and needs of the flesh. These mystical experiences are not of our God. They are demonic and it does not matter how many times a person repeats the name of Jesus. Pride comes before the fall.

Rhodes’ more recent book, Sacred Chaos: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have carries a foreword by contemplative advocate Gary Thomas. Interestingly, but not surprisingly because of his continued promotion of contemplative, both Thomas and Rhodes have been promoted by Rick Warren.

Rhodes first book was written in 1998, but if her new book, Sacred Chaos is any indication, she has not ventured away from contemplative beliefs in the least. On the contrary. In this 2008 book, she continues to promote contemplative practices such as lectio divina and the Jesus prayer as well as contemplative figures like Henri Nouwen, Madame Guyon, Bernard of Clairvaux (who states: God is the stone in the stones and the tree in the trees(3)), Catherine of Siena. In one chapter, she favorably quotes panentheist Thomas Kelly when he states that “deep within us all” (all humans he means), there is a “Divine Center” (p. 76). Another whom she quotes in the book is Kallistos Ware (author of Disciplines for the Inner Life) (p. 20). You can listen to this YouTube video of Ware and hear his contemplative propensities where he discusses the “prayer of the heart.” One of the people Ware talks about in the video is Theophan the Recluse, another mystic. Rhodes book is filled with quotes and references to numerous other mystic proponents.

In Rhodes book, Sacred Chaos, she instructs on and references the value in repeating prayer words over and over, even suggesting that the speed at which the repeating of words takes place can be altered (faster or slower) (p. 92).

If Rhodes is saying (as we believe she is) that this is the way to true intimacy with God, then there is little doubt that she will introduce this to these Calvary Chapel women as something beneficial and useful in their spiritual lives. These unsuspecting Calvary Chapel women should be forewarned that there is another side to this issue, one worth examining carefully.

It is important to understand that the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality is ultimately interspirituality (all paths lead to God). In time, the spiritual outlook of those who practice these mystical prayer methods changes and leads to a perception that is common to eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism (both which negate the Gospel of Jesus Christ). This is not an unfounded assertion. Two of the major icons of the contemplative prayer movement exemplify this. Thomas Merton proudly exclaimed that he was “deeply impregnated with Sufism” (Muslim mysticism),4 and Henri Nouwen would listen to tapes on the Chakras (the basis for Hinduism) when he was exercising.5 And countless other examples could be given. This change in spiritual outlook happens because at the heart of mysticism is the occult, and rather than the contemplative practitioner hearing God in these altered states of silence as they are told by people like Tricia Rhodes, in actuality, they are entering into demonic realms. This repeating of words and phrases is more like practicing trance work than it is practicing God’s presence.

Sadly, North Coast’s pastors are recommending books by contemplative/emerging figures such as Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, and Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz). But do not think that North Coast Calvary Chapel is the exception. No. Unfortunately, the majority of churches in most communities today are going in this same direction. Churches from nearly every denomination have jumped on board–Nazarene, Southern Baptist, Wesleyan, Mennonite, Assemblies of God to name a few. While there are still churches within these groups that refuse to go down this mystical path, with major influential leaders like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels doing a substantial amount of promoting of contemplative/emerging spirituality, is it any wonder such inroads have taken place?

The Bible tells us that God has given to the believer everything he or she needs to walk with God and live according to His will through faith by His grace. He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit and the promise of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is in this that believers must stand, not on the “religion” of the world and of God’s adversary.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. II Peter 1:3-4

Notes:
1. Charles H. Simpkinson, “In the Spirit of the Early Christians” (Common Boundary magazine, Jan./Feb. 1992), p. 19.
2. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., pp. 153-154 (from chapter 8, “America’s Pastor”), citing Rhodes, The Soul at Rest, pp. 199, 43.
3. Joseph Chu-Cong, The Contemplative Experience (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999), p. 3.
4. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 69, as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 60.
5. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, p. 20.

*Technically, the Jesus Prayer is: Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, but it is often shortened to just the word Jesus.

** Rhodes also spoke at the Unite in Worship Conference in BC, Canada earlier this year with Leonard Sweet and Calvin Miller.

Beware Man’s Devises

My warning to be careful in what you open yourself up to is a very valid one. And I direct this to the charismatic group as well as the contemplative/emergent one, and any group that will teach “do this” to “experience God”. It is irrelevant that we live in a post modern society or that we have been given so-called “prophetic” words that God is “doing a new thing”, or that we are in some particular “season”.

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him being abominable, disobedient and disqualified for every good work.

Our God in unchanging. In all times and seasons He remains the same. We are told to be ready to preach the gospel in season and out and to be watchful in all things – 2 Timothy4:2, 5.

When man devises a way to gain knowledge or have an experience, to attain a level of spirituality or wisdom, etc.  whatever “tag” line is used it is very possible and even probable that a visitation will occur. But make no mistake about this. God is not controlled by man’s devises.  He has already taught us how to experience Him, worship Him and pray to Him in His word.  We have been given all that we need as we are complete in Christ. But if we continue in following man’s devises chances are the visitation, all that power, all that “knowing”, that inner voice is not God at all, but a demon, or as some call a spirit guide. And yes, a borne again Christian can have one!

Colossians 2:8-10  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

When we agree with the false teaching and engage in false practices we are overcome and taken into bondage.

2 Peter 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

I believe it is a path that will lead to a loss of salvation because in following after these teachings and practices we are denying Christ just as surely as we would to deny him with our words. The more I think on this the more clearly I see it.

Whatever the design of worship or meditation or prayer for experiencing God we choose should cause us to love Him more, His people more and His word. It should drive us to know more of Him through His word and His people. It should drive us to live righteous, holy lives, convicting us of our own sin.

2Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If instead we find ourselves driven to the next experience, visitation, that source of power, or inner voice, we have certainly disconnected from Christ. We can no longer call ourselves His followers or disciples because we no longer follow Him.  Our only hope is to repent, ask for forgiveness and to be cleansed and set free, taking authority over the demon, casting him away. And then we must leave whatever institution and teacher that brought us to the place of apostasy. That is the only hope in restoration for regaining salvation. Otherwise we are lost eternally.

Beware man’s devises.

Rallying to be Heard

I have a problem with these prayer rallies. I believe that we should pray. We are told to time and again in the word to pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17; to give ourselves continually to prayer Acts 6:4; Jesus prayed in John 17,; He taught His disciples to pray in Luke 11; two disciples prayed in the temple in Acts 3:1; Peter prayed on a house top Acts 10:9, and many more scriptures on prayer, the laying on of hands, prayers that healed, delivered and even raised the dead. But nothing that resembled the prayer rallies we see today.

Jesus told his disciples to pray in secret, to go in your room and shut the door, and not to be seen by men as they hypocrites do, or to use vain repetitions thinking the many words will get the prayer heard –  see Matthew 6:5-8

Additionally, I believe that fasting is biblical although I am not big on fasting. Not because I am not willing to part with my food, but because I just don’t get it. And all the teaching I’ve had and things I have read don’t help me to get it either. But, I will say that fasting, like prayer according to Jesus is done in secret and we don’t make a big display or even tell others that we are doing it –  see Matthew 6:16-18.

So why these big displays of prayer and fasting rallies held in large stadiums with lots of advertising and cries for support- a large following of people and a large cash flow to go along with it?  Are the prayers of these people heard by God? Or, it is just a display to control and manipulate thousands at a time towards an agenda of man? Usually there is a reason behind these rallies – to end abortion, to end homosexuality, to honor marriage between one man and one woman, judicial rulings in the courts, etc.

These issues have become so rampant in our society because they are life choices made by people who do not honor God or know Him. Prayer for the lost is one thing, but making different choices takes a change of heart  by each individual person in their own recognition of sin and need of forgiveness. In other words, the only thing that can change these choices is repentance. God is not going to suddenly rule over man and his choice to choose how to live. No amount of prayer will change that truth because it is of His own design. And that is a good thing. Because the moment God decides to stop giving us the freedom to choose is the moment He stops loving us.  God does not change and that is a very good thing too.

But again, there is more to the story, I think. These rallies are done by those who think they can change the world with their words, speaking the right things at the right time in accordance to what is viewed as “God’s will” or what God is doing in “this hour” because we are at a “pivotal moment in history that can be missed”.  Someone has “received the prophetic word” or the “mandate” from God “for such a time as this”.

You’ve heard me mention Dominionism/Kingdom Now and Word of Faith.  I think these people leading these rallies and those attending probably feel they are doing the right thing. But, they have a misguided sense of the issues of prayer and fasting and the coming last of the last days.  It could be that these leaders are so caught up in their mindsets of “doing” they have forgotten what the bible says in these areas. I don’t know the reasons for sure; only the Lord knows the condition of each heart. That is not for me to know or to decide on. So, I give them a little wiggle room  and I do pray for them to see the truth. However, what they do, regardless of why is still wrong nonetheless. And those who follow them share in their error – see 2 John 8-11.

We, as Christians, are not establishing a righteous kingdom of God here on earth.  Jesus will do that when He returns, and He will return in bodily form where every eye will see Him and every knee will bow in honor that Jesus is Lord. He will rule the earth as the Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords. He is the only one who can do these things.

We, as Christians, will not take on the embodiment and become a “corporate Christ”. I get yucky shivers even typing those words! This is the belief behind “Manifest Sons”.  There is not a “birthing” process taking place in the spirit realm to bring this about. The birth has already happened, long ago in a manger. His name is Jesus. He is the Messiah.

We, as Christians will not become “Joel’s Army”, nor is God raising up an army comprised of youth to do His will in the last days. This is a misconception of the verses in Joel 2 about an army of locusts. That scripture and the thoughts on a “Joel’s Army” have absolutely no relation one to the other. It is complete lie.

So there is my short little  run down on four movements going on in the church. They are heretical but very widely believed. I always like to read Matthew 24 and Revelation 21 and 22 when I wonder what is to happen.

I digressed slightly because all of these tie in to some points I have been making on my blog and some articles I am getting ready to write.  I see things going on that Christians are upset about.  And I have been upset right along with them, as you have. But my thinking in some things have changed and I have found myself looking more to the truth and in how Jesus handled things when He was here.

I started talking of prayer rallies. But I have also been wondering about the National Day of Prayer we have here in America and why that all came about. I also have been thinking of the Muslim Prayer going on Sept 25 that so many are upset over. But these are upcoming things to write about in the next few days. I hope you get a chance to come back and read them. I would love to hear your views too!

Until then, may the Lord protect and guide all that you do and grant you His wisdom! Maranatha! 🙂

A Call

You may first want to read the previous article Rallying To Be Heard as it prefaced what I am getting into now.

Yesterday I received an e-mail for a call to prayer sent by Lou Engle. If you aren’t familiar with him or his ministry you can find his website here  – TheCall.  I don’t receive e-mails from him directly, but this one was forwarded to me from someone else. (Someone who probably now wishes they hadn’t.)

Lou’s message bothered me on several counts. First of all, he came out of Promise Keepers and felt a “call” to begin setting up prayer rallies involving people, especially teenagers and young adults to fast and pray and then join together at these all day prayer rallies held all over the country. These seem more like the old testament way of a solemn assembly than they do a joining of new testament believers.

The previous article address the biblical reasons why I disagree with these ideas so I won’t rehash them. But to those issues I will add that it bothers me kids are always pulled into these things. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe they should be taught to fast and pray among other things – train up a child – however, I see this more as the responsibly of the parents, namely the fathers, than their children. It always seems men with agendas are after the youth, good or bad. Jesus called grown men to follow and to teach, not the kiddies. He didn’t call the women because we just naturally follow after Him, huh ladies?  Ok, kidding, kidding!

There is another issue I had with that e-mailed request. I do not understand why these people always seem to associate an event with a prophetic sign.  I did not understand that even when I was one of them. They believe every thing has a meaning and are very quick to find one and call it prophetic. How do they know, how can any of us know that what they say is the sign, truly is the sign. Blind faith in them?

Islamic Unity on Capitol Hill

Islamic Unity on Capitol Hill

Yes, on September 25 the dreaded Muslim, Islamic, “Jummah” day of prayer at the Capitol. We didn’t get our day of prayer, the National Day of Prayer, set aside and practiced by all presidents for decades past but this one! Just this one, Obama, who claims he is a Christian, who claims he prayed in private that day, who claims to go to a church, location private, who recognizes Muslim contributions  – and more – to our society – that president.

Our president, who had Rick Warren, “America’s Pastor” and claimed “Christian” pray at his Inauguration to   – Isa –  in the name of Isa of the Muslim religion, not the Christian Savior of the world. Now we have prayer Muslim prayer at the Capitol. Of course we do. (I’ve heard this is not the first time but I will agree that the Muslim influence seems to be growing in our country!)

Back to my point with Lou Engle who believes that the lack of support on our National Day and the support for the Islamic Day have some significance in what God is trying to bring to our country, and that the sign is a young, run-away teenager.

Here is a clip from the e-mail –

However, I believe in this moment of divine providence God has raised up on the stage of history a little “Esther” that if we pray and fast for her she could be a major voice to expose the dark under-belly of Islam and radiate a bright hope for a day of salvation for Muslims in America.

Oh, the last “Esther” we had, only last year, was Sarah Palin. Here’s the new one Rifqa Bary, a young 17-year-old woman

woman?

Jesus was the one raised up and that He is our hope! Not a person  – and I don’t care who says otherwise, he is wrong!

This convergence, I believe, is urgently summoning us in the midst of the rising tide of Islamic influence in America to recognize that our God is above every god and that if we return to Him with all of our hearts and call upon Him with fasting and prayer then God could use what the enemy meant for evil to bring about a great day of salvation for Muslims in America, of which Rifqa is but a major sign.

On Friday, September 25th, the Muslim Day of Prayer, we are calling the Church of America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the testimony of Christ, and even be visited by Jesus in dreams. We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America. Let us hear the call to prayer and not miss this moment.

Islam is here in America because we allow freedom of religion in this country.

Now, whatever that meant early on  – and most of us agree it was the freedom to practice Christianity – is not what it means today. We allowed people with different religions to come here in America and we have allowed them to practice those religions under what we claim is the freedom to do so. That is the reason we find ourselves in this situation. Not because we are in a catalyst moment due of the plight and the life of a young woman.

It is not enough that they themselves are elitists, but they will drag unsuspecting people right in there with them, give them a biblical name and mission to go right along with it.  And they always use the old testament and I find that so strange that they come in the name of the Lord, yet they leave out the emphasis of the new covenant in Jesus! And this, the wonderful story of Ester, they have twisted around to fit their purpose! If you read it, you will see what I am talking about.

(I totally sympathize with Rifqa’s situation and I will get to that in a different article. No one has the right to kill anyone else no matter who they call their “god”.) – <<UPDATE – See my comment #4>>

And, “great awakening” is again, the dominionist/kingdom now idea that there will be a great revival to come on the earth. The bible says there will be a great falling away.

But, there is more and this one really bothers me.  He said this –

and even be visited by Jesus in dreams

It sounds nice, even possible. After all, our God can do anything He wants, can’t He? He can make anything happen because He is God. But, does He?  Is this how He brings unbelievers to repentance by dream visits? Or when believers fast and pray because doing so removes the evil presence of the demonic hold (more dominionism). Because I thought salvation came through hearing the word (Romans 10:17) and by revelation and conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-9). I thought this was the reason we were told to preach the gospel (Luke 24:47, 2 Timothy 4:2). Speak it with words, not ask for dreams to do it for us.

I know from experience that it is very dangerous to ask or to expect God to work in a way that He has not designed. I know that this opens us to the demonic. This is why I am so upset at this kind of thing! We need to be very careful in what we teach others and what we ask or expect of God!

One more thing that I find interesting in all of this is the similarities between Rick Warren’s in the name of “Isa” prayer and the claims of dreams from the muslims of the man in white. When I first heard about these dreams some years ago I thought it was wonderful that Jesus was revealing Himself in dreams to these people. But, now, I know better. And just because it is a man in white, does not make him the Messiah. Remember, satan disguises himself as an angel of light!

Please, please, it is so easy to get all fired up and excited. But let’s be careful and make every effort to uphold Christ and the true ways taught in the bible over our emotional responses and fleshy expectations! Let’s be sober-minded!

And, yes, let’s do pray that the gospel of our Lord is preached to every muslim person in our country and that they would see the truth and repent. And maybe that means that we will be required to share our faith face to face with a muslim nearby. Let’s be ready!

Jesus is Lord!



In Jesus’ Name We Pray

So often we use the name of Jesus. We say it at the end of our prayers. Some make decrees and proclamations based on their desires, claiming to prophecy in Jesus’ name. We believe there is profound power to be had by simply stamping His name to our every wish, desire and prayer.  But is there?  I came on this fascinating reading just the other day.

Taken from The Complete Works of EM Bounds, pp 338-339

Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will give,” says Christ, and the Father will give. Both the Father and Son are pledged to give the very things for which we ask. But the condition is “in His name”.  This does not mean that His name is talismanic, to give value by magic. It does not mean that His name in beautiful settings of pearl will give value to prayer.  It is  not that His name perfumed with sentiment and larded in and closing up our prayers and doings will do the deed.  How fearful the statement”  “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  How blasting the doom of these great workers and doers who claim to work in His name!  (Scripture references: Matthew 21:22, Luke 11:9, John 14:14; Matthew 7:22-23)

It means far more than sentiment, verbiage, and nomenclature. It means to stand in His stead, to bear His nature, to stand for all for which He stood, for righteousness, truth, holiness and zeal.  It means to be one with God as He was, one in spirit, in will and in purpose. It means that our praying is singly and solely for God’s glory through His Son.  It means that we abide in Him, that Christ prays through us, lives in us and shines out of us that we pray by the Holy Spirit according to the will of God.

The words of EM Bounds point us should make us consider that we, as believers have a great responsibility to carry, maybe far greater than many of us have been taught or have realized in the true meaning behind the use of the name of Jesus.


Prayin’ Like a Child

Today as I waited at Midas having the front brakes on my Jeep replaced, I started to read a chapter from The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds. No, it’s not a nice light book to drag around but I find it very interesting and safe to read in light of today’s more modern liars and new thought. (Or maybe it’s old thought, repackaged. hmmm, let’s not go there now.) 

But listen to what E.M. says on pages 343-4, taken from the chapter, Jesus Christ, An Example of Prayer:

Jesus Christ prayed to God as Father: Simply and directly did He approach God in the charmed and revered circle of the Father.  The awful, repelling fear was entirely absent, lost in the supreme confidence of a child.

Christ prayed as a child. The spirit of a child was found in him.  At the grave of Lazarus “Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father.”  Again we hear Him begin His prayer after this fashion” In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father.” So also on other occasions we find Him in praying addressing God as His Father assuming the attitude of the child asking something of the Father. What confidence, simplicity and alertness!

What respect deepening into reverence!  We must live as children if we would ask as children.  We must act as children if we would pray as children.  The spirit of prayer is born of the child spirit.

An appeal to God the Father, if not associated with reverence and homage before the Divine Majesty, would betray a want of understanding of the character of God.”  And, we might add, would show a lack of the attributes of a child.

What amazing wording he writes with, how compelling.  I read and re-read his words as I sat there completely immersed in such gem of truth, such freedom and Christian realism.  I know that God is the Father, our Father, and I refer to Him that way.  But as I read and contemplated these words, this truth, I began to realize I did not approach Him in such a “supreme confidence”.   As I continued to think on this, I realized I always expect less for myself than for others.  I may think I ask in faith, claim I ask in faith, but do I?  I do not. I still see myself as the one who lost out on”, having had a life full of many disappointments.  Many in this word do, I am not alone, and some more than I could even imagine.  But, was I getting the things I asked for? No.  I hadn’t been expecting them too much. And on the other end of this I came to realize I have been the one holding out on myself, that I deny myself certain things and allowances that others seem to attain so easily.  Outwardly I did not take this on to most, but what of those who truly know me? God looks at the heart, does He not?  I had not been approaching the Father God as a child approaches a father, not at all. Not according to these words.

A mechanic’s waiting room is an odd place for emotional repenting, such as this!  Just try to hold those tears!!!

Even now as I type words of this blessed author and as I read them, again they pull me back in.  The choice of the author’s wording is so profound.  They reflect another time long ago when people spoke differently, reacted differently to God and to their fellow man…charmed and revered circle of the Father…respect deepening into reverence…

Who writes this way these days?  How far removed is not only the wording, but the heart intent of today’s loud, obnoxious and demanding people? After the last few days of conversation of the emergent church, the deception of Charismania, here, I am reminded anew of how truly distict Christianity is. What other religion could possibly offer such things as God the Father has offered and provided to those He calls children, to those He longs for to call Him Father.

If it is at all possible for a Christian to have been born again again, today would have been IT for me.

Blessed be the name of the Lord God. His name is Holy.

  • For similar reading on the prayers of Jesus go here