Saturday, January 27, 2007

Discernment on Prayer ...

Contemplative Prayer & Spirituality

Contemplative Prayer – is a method or technique that helps an individual empty their mind of thought through repetition using a word or phrase or breathing exercise. Contemplative prayer’s purpose is to allow an individual to enter into an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, therein finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Contemplative prayer teachers (spiritual guides) teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born again believers, should practice contemplative prayer.

Thomas Merton, (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/merton.htm) in his book, “Thoughts on the East” – page 34 states, “Contemplative consciousness is a trans-cultural, trans-religious, trans-formed consciousness … it can shine through this or that system, religious or irreligious.

Jodi Mailander Farrell states in “A Quiet Revolution”, a Miami Herald article, – “Sparked by Eastern meditative techniques, today’s version of centering prayer is bent on stilling the mind.” (This article has been removed from the Miami Herald archives.)

Here is what Contemplatives Have To Say About This Form of Prayer and the Contemplative Lifestyle:

"For Fr. Bede, being universal meant to be centered and grounded. He generated this universality of heart through his daily practice of meditation and contemplative prayer, and this opened him ever more to the myths, symbols and teachings of the other great religions of the world."
Man, Monk, Mystic” by Pascaline Coff, O.S.B. Speaking of Bede Griffiths.

"This understanding of the unity of the human family is central to Christianity. Our spiritual journey, especially contemplative prayer, together with its practices for daily life, are processes of becoming aware of just how profound that unity is with God, ourselves, other people, other living beings, the earth, and all creation." Thomas Keating in “The Transformation of Suffering”

"... beyond our methods and understanding is an ultimate reality that is open to all people regardless of their religious traditions. The overwhelming sense of this groundbreaking conference was the unifying force of a contemplative prayer practice."
Jena Hatchett WCCM 2001

Contemplative Terms
"inside" terms used by contemplatives:

  • Labyrinths
  • Enneagrams
  • Prayer Stations
  • Breath Prayers
  • Jesus Candles
  • The Jesus Prayer
  • Lectio Divina
  • Taize
  • Palms Up, Palms Down
  • Yoga
  • The Silence
  • Sacred Space
  • Ancient Prayer Practices
  • A Thin Place
  • Divine Mystery
  • Spiritual Direction

  • Ignation Contemplation
  • Contemplative
  • Centering
  • Centering prayer
  • Prayer of the Heart
  • Dark night of the soul
  • Practicing the Presence
  • Divine Center
  • Inner light
  • Mantra
  • Awareness of Being
  • Slow Prayer
  • Being in the Present Moment
  • Beyond Words
  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Spiritual Formation

Many of these terms are considered "inside" terms according to many contemplatives, such as Youth Specialties writer, Michael Perschon. On April 16th, 2006, Youth Specialties issued a new article by Perschon that coincidentally illustrates the very

thing we are saying here.

"Fitness buffs have an inside language. The
really serious ones like to use proper anatomy
terms, like gluteus maximus instead of bum.
They still mean bum but, like most experts,
enjoy having some special knowledge others
don't have. People who practice contemplative
prayer are often no different. Like any other
practice, contemplative prayer has its own
inside language, which is clear to the initiated
but means little to outsiders. Much of the
writing on contemplative prayer uses this
inside language."
Michael Perschon,
Contemplative Prayer Practices

Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Bible” – promotes contemplative spirituality – it uses terms like “as above, so below”; The Message "Bible" Omits "Lord Jesus" The King James Bible refers to Jesus as "Lord Jesus" about 115 times. The New King James Bible uses this term about the same amount of times and the New American Standard about 100 times. How many times does Eugene Peterson's The Message use the phrase "Lord Jesus"? None! Not once. Never! (Check it out at (www.biblegateway.com) I would not use this Bible nor have it in my home!

Promoters of contemplative prayer believe this mystical experience is a bridge between Christianity and other religions, particularly Islam and Buddhism. Read these Contemplatives as they speak of their interspirituality:

"Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation ... Reliance on a mantric centering device had a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity." —Ronald Miller, As Above, So Below, p. 52.

"This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality." —Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18.

"Our job is to construct a bridge that connects the ancient text with our contemporary audience, making it easier for them to see the immediate application of God's Word." Rick Warren, Pastors.com

Pastor Bob DeWaay over at Critical Issues Commentary has an excellent informative article about “The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines” I highly recommend the reading of it. http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue91.htm

I also highly recommend the following websites for sharpening your discernment in days such as these …

www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

www.str.org

www.erwm.com

www.letusreason.org

www.diceptioninthechurch.com

www.crossroad.to

www.oldtruth.com

Just to name a few. I ‘lurk’ these sites often just to keep my iron sharp and my salt salty. Spend some time reading these sites – especially Lighthouse Trails – excellent stuff on Today’s Christian Women, Christianity Today magazines and their connections to contemplative spirituality.

Rosemary over at “Seasonings of the Heart’, and Jules at “Everyday Mommy” has some good posts going. I commend Jules for asking for scripture proof in the comments on this topic. “You go Girl!”

This I leave with you from the Word of God Himself:

ESV – 2 Tim. 3 -- 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom [1] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [2] may be competent, equipped for every good work.

AND – 2 Tim. 4:1-5 ESV -- 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound [1] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

AMEN!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pam,

    I sent a link to Jules at Everyday Mommy.

    Good Stuff.

    ReplyDelete

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