Any time you see the word Contemplative used to describe anything Christian a big RED FLAG should go up. Contemplative prayer became popular during the Emergent Church movement at the beginning of the 20th century, which permotes many unbiblical practices and ideologies.
Contemplative prayer begins with “centering prayer” a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. The purpose is to clear one’s mind of outside concerns so that God’s voice may be more easily heard. After the centering prayer, the practitioner is to sit still, listen for direct guidance from God, and feel His presence. https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html
There are a couple of things very wrong with this type of practice. The first is that the Bible clearly tells us not to use vain repetition when we pray. Matthew 6:7 (KJV) says, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Philippians 4:6 (KJV) says, “Be careful for nothing: but in every think by prayer ans supplication with thanksgiving let your request be make known unto God. John 16:23-24 (KJV) says, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” These are three examples of how we should be praying to God and none of them are about repeating yourself over and over. In fact trying to empty your mind and repeating a phrase over and over can put you into a trans-like-state opening yourself up to emotionalism, mysticism and demon spirits. This is the opposite of being sober minded and sound in the faith. And just an added note, this is another reason I can’t stomach modern “Christian” music that repeats the same words over and over again, usually in a copulation of Bible verses taken out of context along with hypnotic drum beats and rhythms of a rock and roll band.
The second major error is the emptying of the mind is suppose to help you “hear” God’s voice and to “feel” His presence. As a disclaimer I am a strong cessationist, meaning that God has already spoken through his written word, The Holy Bible, and God is no longer speaking to us today. I also realize that their are Christians that truly believe that the Lord spoke to them. These particular people I am thinking about talked about hearing from God in the midst of their activities or prayer, they were not purposely sitting still to listen to God’s voice. When you sit still to clear your mind to listen for God’s voice you WILL put your own thoughts and feelings into what you want to hear, instead of interpreting God’s Word as HE intended. I personally have never heard God speak to me directly outside of the Bible. If I want to hear the Lord speak I read His Word out loud. Another aspect to consider is that if you are hearing direct revelation from God then it should be written down in the Bible……right? When people say they hear directly from God you can never rebuke them because it’s from God….right? This is very dangerous and it really does make me angry. Especially when what they think they heard is God’s voice, but their “god” told them homosexuality is ok because they prayed and “Jesus” told them so. This is a true story by they way. One of my former friend’s told me this. Unfortunately, she needs the Gospel, and if she does not repent from her sin, she will be in Hell.
There is no example, that I can think of, in the Bible that a person in the Bible was sitting around waiting for God’s voice. God spoke to them while they were living their lives. NONE of the men of the Bible sat down to clear their minds so they could hear from God. It’s just not how God works, EVER!! We need to obey God’s Word not seek after our own wants and emotions to get what makes us feel good. I think of King Saul, and how the Lord stopped speaking to him because he did not obey Gods’s Word. What did King Saul do? Saul took drastic steps. Saul often “heard God” through dreams or through the priests, but not this time. So he consulted a medium, even though he had persecuted them. He wanted to have an answer, and if God wouldn’t answer, Saul was going to find the dead Samuel, and have a medium call him up. Even had Saul not been king, it would be a drastic step, don’t you think? Contemplative prayer is exactly this unbiblical practice Saul used to “hear” from “god” Saul was not able to hear from the Lord any more so he consulted a medium. I would argue that Contemplative prayer is conjuring up a medium of your own making. Satan can disguise himself as an angle of light, and he will deceive you, just as the case with King Saul, thinking the prophet Samuel was talking to him. God spoke through people as HE pleased to do. Contemplative prayer seeks to hear from God as we please, dismissing God’s Word as not enough as to how to live our lives. (It also makes a person rich with money and fame if they claim to hear from Almighty God himself) 😦
The Bible tells us to meditate on God’s Word day and night. Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” This verse sums up how we should be thinking and meditating on God’s Word. As I like to tell my children, “Do it God’s Way and you will be okay.” Often when I want to do God’s will it is a mixer of reading and obeying God’s Word with a strong conviction. For example, writing about Contemplative prayer. I literally can not get it off my mind until I address it. It weighs on my conscious. I have a strong urge to warn the church. And I also have very strong convictions, I believe from the Lord, to use my gift of discernment to warn the church about unbiblical ideologies sneaking into the church. So now I am obeying. Even though I’m not the best writer 🙂
Pslam 46:10 says to be still and know that I am God: is often taken out of context. This verse means to “Be still‘ and to stop striving, stop fighting, relax. It also means to “put your hands down”. Sometimes we put our hands up to defend ourselves from all that life can bring our way. Or as I like to put it stop fighting and striving, especially against our enemies. The Lord’s revenge is much sweeter and just.
Contemplative prayer, by design, focuses on having a mystical experience with God. Mysticism, however, is purely subjective, and does not rely upon truth or fact. Yet the Word of God has been given to us for the very purpose of basing our faith, and our lives, on Truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we know about God is based on fact; trusting in experiential knowledge over the biblical record takes a person outside of the standard that is the Bible.
Contemplative prayer is no different than the meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults. Its most vocal supporters embrace an open spirituality among adherents from all religions, promoting the idea that salvation is gained by many paths, even though Christ Himself stated that salvation comes only through Him (John 14:6). Contemplative prayer, as practiced in the modern prayer movement, is in opposition to biblical Christianity and should definitely be avoided. https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html