And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetitions, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard by their many words.
Contemplative Prayer has been practiced by mystics for ages. This form of prayer is now known among the believing communities, especially among the Emergent Church, as “centered prayer.” This very disturbing practice has become part of many congregations, and many sincere people are not discerning the severe dangers of engaging in this form of meditative prayer. As always, the Deceiver inspires false teachers to quote Scriptures out of context, drawing these people in to an ancient form of occult practice, and thus opening themselves to ‘other spirits,’ (1 Tim 4:1; 1 John 4:1).
The mystic practice of Contemplative Prayer usually consists of three major stages, namely:
- Detachment – emptying the mind and emotions to enter a BLANK state of mind.
- Illumination – allowing the blank mind to be filled with information, words or pictures of a deity.
- Union – a mystical, inexplicable experience of ‘god.’
In order to “empty the mind,” worshipers are encouraged to use a “mantra” – to repeat any word or phrase, even the name of Jesus. The repetitive word or phrase will bring the one in prayer into a state of an “empty mind” in preparation of a “spiritual experience.” Messiah specifically warned against this pagan practice, saying, ‘And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words,’ (Mat 6:7). Some educate their followers to do “breathing practices” to enhance the unification of their souls with the spiritual entity. Some even practice this method of prayer in circles around lit candles, and others walk a labyrinth (an ancient circle with different stations of devotion evolving to the center of the circle). Without any further examination, most of can honestly say that we do not recognize these practices in the Word of God, or being part of any spiritual worship in Biblical times – not in the Old or New Testament writings.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), is used to propagate the practice of Contemplative Prayer, yet the context of this statement is clearly connected to a state of awe among a generation to whom Almighty God will show Himself in all His power and glory with the revelation of Messiah at His Second Appearance. (Psalm 46 resonates the 6th Seal in Revelation. See also Zechariah 2, with emphasis on verse 13 and Zephaniah 1:7.) Using this verse can thus not substantiate the claim that God calls us to meditative prayer. Being still because you are overwhelmed by the power and glory of God is not the same as meditation.
On the contrary, meditating on the Word of God is an active practice in which we use our intellect to think deeply on the meaning of the Word of God. We do not use repetition to think deeply, neither do we depend on an emotional experience. When we meditate on the Word, we analyse and integrate the meaning of the Word to deepen our understanding of who God is, and how this particular Scripture should change our lives in applying the deeper knowledge ‘to grow in the true knowledge of God,’ (Col 2:2).
Prayer is a very personal connection between man and the living God. There is indeed no other way to communicate with our heavenly Father, no other means to lay our petitions and supplications before Him, (1 Tim 2:1). In fact, the apostle Paul encourages us to ‘be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,’ (Phil 4:6). Paul also insists that we should ‘pray at all times in the Spirit,’ (Eph 6:18). Even the Lord Jesus had a disciplined prayer life, and He often separated Himself from the crowds for the purpose of prayer, (Mat 14:23; Luke 5:16; Mat 26:36). Testimonies of answered prayers are countless, not only in the Scriptures, but also in the lives of every faithful follower of the Messiah, (1 Sam 1:26-28; Acts 12:5-16). Any relationship without communication will die, and prayer is indeed the evidence of a living relationship with our Lord and Savior.
The guidelines for prayer in the Word of God is very clear. The Lord taught His disciples to pray (Mat 6:9-13), and there is NO indication in this prayer of any meditative practices. On the contrary, all prayers in the Word consist of clear communication, namely thanksgiving (expressing gratitude for the goodness of God), petitions (a request for specific benefits from God), and supplications (earnestly or humbly asking for something).
Although we might experience the peace of God (Phil 4:7), or the joy of the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17), we should be on our guard not to integrate practices that enhance experience as evidence of the presence of God. We all know that even though we might go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23:4), the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us, (Ps 91:1-5). ‘Feeling’ the Lord’s presence should never be used as an indication of His covenant faithfulness in our lives.