It´s called "contemplative" or "centering" prayer and if you haven´t heard about it yet, chances are unfortunately good that you will soon. It´s invading churches like a virus in which submicroscopic pathogens
contaminate the body many hours or days before the victim is aware of its presence.
Contemplative prayer is one of a number of ancient mystical practices or spiritual disciplines, as their proponents refer to them, which are being encouraged at an alarming rate by evangelical churches. It is all part of something called Spiritual Formation and the Emergent Church, a movement that as John MacArthur states in his book, The Truth War, is subtly changing the beliefs and doctrines of the evangelical church as we know it.
In its pure form, contemplative prayer is practiced by sitting still, quieting, and concentrating on your breathing and repeating a word of choice (maybe the name Jesus, for instance) over and over again. You´re to concentrate on that word and your breathing, and work to eliminate all thoughts from your mind. Over a period of maybe 20 minutes -- and with practice -- you can enter into "the silence." Your mind is blank. You have, in fact, hypnotized yourself. And it is in "the silence" where "God" allegedly speaks to you.
According to the testimony of one former, now-redeemed New Ager I recently read this is the exact method used by New Agers and Eastern mystics to enter an altered state of consciousness that opens a person up to demonic influence. Ray Yungen, author of the book, A Time of Departing, confirms this and says, "Unknown to most people, a blank mind in a meditative state is all that is necessary for contact with a spirit guide." He also points out, "Those who lack discernment are at great risk."
You may say, "Okay, Heidi, I´ll keep an eye out for this practice and avoid it." Yeah, that´s not so easy.
Here´s the thing: The introduction of these practices isn´t direct. It´s an insidious offensive by those the Bible would identify as false teachers. As MacArthur notes, "Rarely are their assaults on the truth open and head-on attacks. Instead, they prefer to work underground, drilling little holes in the foundations of truth itself."
Remember Jesus´ warning? "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15).
MacArthur says, "You can´t necessarily tell a false teacher by the way he or she appears. Every false religious leader is, after all, ´religious´ by definition. Looking saintly is practically part of the job description."
So you may, for instance, be in a wonderful church with fellow Christians who are your fast friends. Everything is going hunky-dory--excellent Bible studies, messages that challenge you, friends you trust -- when all of a sudden there´s a new Sunday school teacher or a new pastor on staff. Or maybe it´s the same pastor who has taken a class or been to a conference that "changed his life" or "opened his eyes."
Slowly, imperceptibly perhaps, change begins to happen.
There´s a nagging feeling in the back of your mind, but you shove it aside because you´re told that, "we have to change the way we ´do church´ to reach the youth or the different cultures in our neighborhood. We have to become relevant to our society," you´re told, "and this generation or culture is into experience!"
Man, but you can´t overcome this needling you sense. The messages seem less vibrant. You haven´t heard a good sermon on redemption through the blood of Christ lately. The Bible studies turn to book studies. The words to the worship songs don´t mean anything. You think, "Aw, I´m just an old fuddy-duddy. I need to get with the program." And you try to dismiss it.
Whoa, Heidi! I thought we were talking contemplative prayer here. Did you change horses midstream?
Nope. This is where it starts. It´s been tough to figure out how to explain to you the way to identify the beginnings of the Spiritual Formation and the Emergent Church movement when it tiptoes into the church, because it´s more the absence of what should be present than it is a stark, head-on attack.
And here´s another thought to ponder: "Deception often occurs when there is 99 percent truth and just 1 percent falsehood," according to Yungen. And he says, "It only takes a little leaven or white lie to leaven or taint the greater lump, which is truth." And so the transformation begins.
Paul told Timothy, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed todeceiving spirits and doctrines of demons"(I Tim. 4:1).
And the apostle John commands us, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).
It begins with subtle changes in the family structure and teachings within the church. It inevitably progresses to the point where ; ancient mystical practices, such as contemplative prayer, are encouraged; the gospel is contradicted; and the cross, as essential to salvation, is nullified. BEWARE.
The preventative medicine for this virus is to know God´s Word. Read it. Feed on it. Memorize it. Love it. Then you´ll be able to spot the symptoms when they appear. Unfortunately, a love for and understanding of Scripture is decidedly lacking in a vast majority of Christians today, leaving them wide open to contamination.
If you are one of them of whom this is true, I admonish you to get into God´s Word today and change that. Time is of the essence!
RADIO NEXT WEEKEND, August 16: Jan and her guests will examine the best-selling book, "The Shack." Could it be a "buyer-beware" book? Yet Christians are lauding it as one of the best books they have ever read. We air live Saturdays, 9 to 11 AM CST out of Minneapolis/St. Paul. All programming is posted to our by late Monday. You can "listen live" at AM980 KKMS. Submitted 8/12/2008 2:23:29 PM | Author: Heidi Swander