Posts Tagged ‘lynn lusby pratt’

10 PRACTICAL THINGS ABOUT LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS YOU MIGHT FIND USEFUL

10 things you might find useful about the practical aspects of Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research Project:

1. WEBSITES—We have two main sites: www.lighthousetrails.com, which is the publishing site and store that sells all our products and www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com, which is where our news blog is located as well as the main research site. The blog has thousands of up-to-date articles, and the research site has hundreds of archived pages of the research we have done since 2004 (the year our research project went online). The store site, the research site, and the blog each have their own search engine you can use to find materials and information.

2. AUTHORS—Lighthouse Trails represents over 35 authors throughout North America and the UK. You can read about each author on our author page and see what kinds of material they each provide.

3. LIBRARIES—Our books are now in hundreds of libraries across the U.S., and if you would like to get some of our titles into your own local library, it’s easy and doesn’t cost you anything. Just call or visit your library, give the librarian the title and/or the ISBN of any title and ask her to bring that title into circulation. Tell your librarian that our books can be ordered through Baker & Taylor, which is the main distributor to U.S. libraries.

4. BOOKSTORES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDs (the ones we publish ourselves) are carried by national mainstream distributors including Ingram, SpringArbor, Baker & Taylor, and Anchor. This means that virtually ANY bookstore (with the exception of LifeWay which will not carry or order any LT products) in the U.S. can easily order any of our titles. Many times people call us and tell us that their local bookstore has told them they cannot get our books. But actually, they can! Even if a bookstore can’t buy through these distributors for some reason, the bookstore can always buy at wholesale prices directly from us.

5. ONLINE BOOK OUTLETS & MINISTRIES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDS (the ones we publish ourselves) are available to the general public through numerous online outlets including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, etc. Ministries such as The Berean Call, Understand the Times, Scripture Truth, Faith View Books, and several others each carry a number of our books and booklets as well.

6. NEWSLETTERS & JOURNAL—Lighthouse Trails has both an e-newsletter, (see archives) which is delivered to readers’ e-mail boxes two to three times a month. We also have a low-cost subscription-based print journal, which is 32 pages and sent to homes, churches, and offices every other month. Many of our readers are getting both the e-newsletter and the journal, while some prefer just one option. We encourage our readers to get the print journal, regardless of whether they get the e-mail because it is great for sharing with others and also very convenient.

7. E-BOOKS & BOOKLETS—Lighthouse Trails books, booklets, and now print journals are also available in both e-pub and PDF formats. Use e-pubs if you have an e-reader, and use PDFs if you don’t and just want to read on your computer or print the document. You can purchase our e-books, e-booklets, and e-journals directly from our website, or you may buy them from Amazon’s Kindle program or Barnes and Noble’s Nook program.

8. SPEAKERS/LECTURERS—A number of our authors are available to speak at your church, conference, radio program, or group: Warren B. Smith, Roger Oakland, Chris Lawson, Anita Dittman (in MN only), Carl Teichrib, Cedric Fisher, Greg Reid, Jim Fletcher, Lynn Lusby Pratt, Mary Danielsen, Mike Oppenheimer, Tony Pearce (in the UK), and Sandy Simpson. You may acquaint yourself with these authors by reading their materials. Several of them have LT author websites where you can read articles and get contact information. Visit this page here to see our list. These are wonderful brothers and sisters who are committed to the Lord, to His Word, and to defending truth.

9. INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails began supporting the mission work of the Bryce Homes Program, homes for needy Christian families now located in several different countries under the leadership of Understand the Times. Since then, Lighthouse Trails readers have contributed substantially to this Gospel-focused missions effort.

10. TENT INDUSTRY—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails started a small division called The Shepherd’s Garden and created our very own line of organic Bible-verse tea. We now have 6 different blends plus a sampler box. We started this side industry as a way to help keep Lighthouse Trails financially stable. Lighthouse Trails is not a non-profit, and thus, we don’t get the number of donations that a 501 (c) 3 organization would get. The tea is a great way to give us a boost without having it be labor intensive, which would draw us away from the work we do at Lighthouse Trails. Since The Shepherd’s Garden began, many many LT readers have purchased the tea and tell us they love how it tastes and love the little KJV verses on a tag on each bag of tea.

 

(photo used from bigstockphoto; used with permission)

 

“What’s Next – Temple Prostitutes?”

LTRP Note: This short article might be disturbing to read, but what is being described here is happening now in the church. Please take heed and pray for discernment as you listen to Christian speakers and read their books. The links below this article are to articles that substantiate what Lynn Lusby Pratt is saying.

By Lynn Lusby Pratt

About a decade ago, I became aware of the new wave of false teaching entering the church. One aspect of that teaching hinted that our experience with Jesus was (should be?) sexual. (Christians who use a mantra, as in contemplative prayer, and go into an altered state of consciousness sometimes have erotic experiences, which they mistakenly believe to be “union” with God/Jesus.) There was new interest in/promotion of the “bridal mysticism” of medieval nuns like Teresa of Avila: “Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain . . . and a spell of strangulation . . . swoon-like weakness . . .” There were quotes in Christian books, like Tony Campolo saying, “There is nothing wrong . . . with eroticism in worship.” And Ann Voskamp: “Mystical union. . . . God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul. . . . To know him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin . . .” [One Thousand Gifts, p. 217]. Ken Wilson: “I was having feelings of connection with the divine . . . [that] reminded me very much of the amorous feelings I have for my wife” [Mystically Wired, p. 27].

You may not have connected the dots, but go back to the Old Testament (and general history) as a reminder that pagan religions typically include sexual ritual. And when believers in God step away from God’s path, it inevitably trends toward an “anything goes” sexual culture. There are loads of Scripture warnings against following pagan practices (ex: Deuteronomy 12:30-32)—not to mention any number of explanations of failures to obey those warnings (ex: 1 Kings 14:22-24). And 2 Kings 23:7 says that the quarters of shrine prostitutes were actually “in the temple of the Lord”!

Well, those people were idiots, right? We in the church would never be tricked into that sort of thing.

But see, you and/or your small group are almost surely using books written by people who are on that path, or who at least are being influenced by such people. (You can partly discern a writer’s spiritual family tree by looking at who is quoted in the endnotes.) The average Christian probably reads quotes like those above and brushes them aside with, “Oh, surely it doesn’t mean THAT!” But people engaged in mystical practice DO mean that.

And so we come to the next level, with such ideas now being even more openly promoted. There’s a new book coming out called Tantric Jesus: The Erotic Heart of Early Christianity. (Tantrism is sex magic. Look it up.) The sales pitch is that this “wisdom” of Jesus resonates with the “tantric yogas of India and Tibet.” This thing is so blasphemous against the Lord, I can’t even bring myself to give a sample quotation. The U.S. secular culture is already far along the “anything goes” sexual path. The church will follow a la the Jewish religious leaders of the OT—that’s how it works—unless we have the savvy to recognize that “What’s next—temple prostitutes?” could become more than just a wisecrack.

What to do? We must examine, with discernment, the teachings of the spiritual mentors we’re following. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them,” Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 4:16) who was working in Ephesus, the HQ of the sometimes-erotic worship of the goddess Artemis. Let’s read the Old Testament and take a hard look at what happens when believers don’t stay on alert. Then we’ll be equipped to expose false teaching when we find it, instead of overlooking/endorsing it.

Related Articles:

Sarah Young’s “Jesus” More Like a “Love Struck” Boyfriend

Tantric (i.e., Contemplative) Sex and Christianity—A Match NOT Made in Heaven

Understanding the Occultic Nature of Tantric Sex (The Practice Promoted by Dr. Amen – Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Doctor)

2015 YEAR IN REVIEW – PART 5 – TOP 10 ARTICLES BY LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS AUTHORS

See also Part 1 Year in Review | See also Part 2 Year in Review | See also Part 3 Year in Review | See Also Part 4 Year in Review

In order of date posted.

Caryl Matrisciana

Caryl Matrisciana

1/A Special Letter from Caryl Matrisciana – Reflections on Sorrow by Caryl Matrisciana

I’m so grateful to Jesus Christ for having walked the sorrows of this life and given us His example of how godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow can be faced through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit, which is freely given to believers as His Gift of Grace (2 Corinthians 1:5-6; Hebrews 2:10;). The apostle Paul distinguishes two sorts of sorrow: “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians  7:10). The one is that sorrow for sin [that is] wrought by God [and] leads to repentance, while the other is a sorrow about worldly objects which, when separated from the fear of God, tends to death, temporal and eternal. (Unger Bible Dictionary)

Roger Oakland

Roger Oakland

2/Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much by Roger Oakland

In 2014, Rick Warren (called “America’s Pastor) was interviewed by Catholic T.V. network host Raymond Arroyo. The interview took place at the Saddleback Church campus and was posted on YouTube by EWTN in April of 2014. Because I had written previously in 2013 about Rick Warren’s connections to Rome and to the Catholic convert Tony Blair (former prime minister of Britain), I was very aware that Rick Warren was heading down the path toward Rome. But not until I saw this interview did I realize just how far he has gone in that direction.

cedric-fisher

Cedric Fisher

3/The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints by Cedric Fisher

In the wake of a brutal execution of Christians at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in October 2015, the Obama administration announced the appointment of a new czar position to supposedly battle domestic terrorism.

Ray Yungen

Ray Yungen

4/Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection by Ray Yungen

n 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis the First. This new pope immediately began causing ripples in the Catholic Church with his statements on certain issues. He also caused many to take notice of his unpapal lifestyle such as living in a guesthouse with twelve others rather than living in the papal apartments like previous popes. He projects a down-to-earth image that denotes compassion and trust. He has been called the people’s pope, someone who is your friend, someone you can trust. But there are certain things about Pope Francis’ coming on the scene that are being ignored by the media and most people.

smith

Warren B. Smith

  5/Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything by Warren B. Smith

Our Spiritual Adversary would have everyone believe that we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Using every promotional means possible—including a creative and ingenious perversion of quantum physics—he is attempting to convince the world and the church that while Jesus was Christ, so is everyone. And while Jesus was God, so is everyone else. To underscore this heretical New Age doctrine of God and Christ “in” everyone, he would have us further believe that nothing of any significance happened on the Cross of Calvary.

6/Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them by John Lanagan

Contemplative prayer, which Priscilla Shirer refers to as her “brand new way” and Beth Moore says is essential in really knowing God, is in reality an ancient prayer practice that is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation though disguised with Christian terminology. Those who participate and enter the contemplative silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.

7/“For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!” by Harry Ironside

Why do so many people think this is the greatest text in the Bible? There are other wonderful texts that dwell on the love of God, that show how men are delivered from judgment, that tell us how we may obtain everlasting life; but no other one verse, as far as I can see, gives us all these precious truths so clearly and so distinctly. So true is this that when the Gospel is carried into heathen lands, and missionaries want to give a synopsis of the Gospel to a pagan people, all they find it necessary to do, if they are going to a people that have a written language, is to translate and print this verse, and it tells out the story that they are so anxious for the people to hear.

Berit Kjos

Berit Kjos

8/The New Age, Occultism, and Our Children in Public Schools by Berit Kjos

Why would our country, so richly blessed by God, embrace the occult? What caused this drastic change in values? How could it have happened so seemingly fast?! Actually, the entire Western world had already been “softened up” by the 1960s when the rising rebellion against God erupted into public view.

9/D is for Deception: The Language of the “New” Christianity by Kevin Reeves

A number of years ago, a book written by emerging-church leaders Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet was released. The book was called A is for Abductive: the language of the emerging church. Going through the alphabet, the authors identified many terms they hoped would be picked up by the younger generation, thus creating a unique emerging spiritual atmosphere. They called it a “primer with a mission.” That mission that McLaren, Sweet, and other like-minded change agents embrace has been successful in bringing in a new kind of “Christianity. . . .”

Lynn Lusby Pratt

Lynn Lusby Pratt

10/BIG NOISY GOD—Dispelling the Rumor that God Can Be Found “Only in the Silence” by Lynn Lusby Pratt

Have you heard the rumor going around—that God can be found “only in the silence”? Don’t buy it. Please understand. I love quiet. I drive for hours with the radio off, sit in the porch swing and listen to the birds, and lie on Gram’s quilt in the dark to watch the stars. I insist on quiet for Bible and prayer time.

NEW BOOKLET: So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?

So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That? written by Lynn Lusby Pratt is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet  is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?, click here. 

So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?

So-You-Want-to-Practice-Good-Contemplative-PrayerBy Lynn Lusby Pratt

How about if we call a spade a spade? I’m speaking of contemplative prayer. If you’ve been using the term as the new way to describe your own practice of getting alone with God, being quiet, and praying silently . . . well, you haven’t been doing contemplative prayer (also called centering prayer, breath prayer, and Jesus’ prayer).

It’s easy to misunderstand. Popular writers and teachers portray contemplative prayer in vague language that seems “almost intentionally inaccessible.”1

About seven years ago, I began to seriously investigate its true nature. Having some knowledge of Eastern religions and the occult, I soon saw red flags. I found that contemplative prayer is neither contemplative (thinking deeply) nor prayer (talking to God). Instead, it involves a mantra (a word or phrase repeated for ten to twenty minutes) as the means for erasing thoughts.

I would have voted for the practice not to be called contemplative prayer! But alas, it’s too late. That term and its meaning have been established for centuries.

The process itself is the same for mystics of all religions—in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, in Hinduism with transcendental meditation and Yoga, in Sufism (Islamic mysticism), in the meditation of New Age spirituality, and in contemplative prayer. Participants are advised to choose a “sacred word.” But the repetition renders any words meaningless (ask a psych prof), so it doesn’t really matter whether a Christian says “Jesus loves me” or a Buddhist says “Hail to the Lotus.” The repetition induces an altered state of consciousness in which the practitioner senses a “union with the divine,” having presumably contacted the god of choice.

“But that can’t be!” you protest. “I know what I read about contemplative prayer.” Do you?

ASK THE EXPERTS

We can learn all we need to know from two recognized experts on the subject, Richard Foster and Thomas Merton.

Richard Foster, author of the best-selling Celebration of Discipline, contends that contemplative prayer is not Eastern. But what he describes matches Eastern practice, and he favorably refers to Eastern and occult proponents. In his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster teaches that the practice is “unmediated,” exclusive—“not for the novice,” “wordless,” and dangerous—requiring that “prayers of protection” be offered against dark forces before one attempts it.2

Unmediated. Scripture speaks of Jesus as our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and the Holy Spirit and Jesus as intercessors (Romans 8:26, 34). I have no idea what Foster considers a hindrance in normal prayer that should be bypassed in favor of “unmediated” prayer.

Exclusive. Are we to believe Jesus forgot to tell us that certain prayer is reserved just for the initiated? And that this secret was only finally figured out by medieval mystics? Where’s the evidence?

Wordless. Foster does not mean praying silently, in our minds. Upon further study, it’s clear that he means no word spoken or thought. No content. Is there in the Bible a kind of prayer with no content? Is this “silence” (also sometimes called the void or the pure darkness) a sacred place where God speaks and acts?

Dangerous. No true prayer offered to the true God could accidentally dial a wrong number! The Lord hears us when we call (Psalm 4:3; Isaiah 58:9). I submit that dark forces are frequently contacted during contemplative prayer because mysticism opens occult doors.3

The late Thomas Merton’s books remain popular with Christians even though his Catholic theology gave way to Buddhism—a religion with no creator God and, of course, no Jesus. Merton said that Buddhism is “an opening to love,”4 and “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.”5 Merton echoes Foster’s four points about the nature of contemplative prayer:

Unmediated. Merton speaks of “direct realization” and even of going “‘beyond God’ to the ultimate perfect emptiness.”6

Exclusive. What is experienced is “the sign of the Spirit upon the Chosen People of God.” Do it wrong, and you’ll be “impervious to the deepest truths.” Only in this experience can you find God, he says, but he also scolds “people who try to pray and meditate above their proper level.”7

Wordless. “Often making use of no words and no thoughts at all.”8

Dangerous. There is a “danger of psychological regression,” a “deep dread and night,” a descent into “dread to the center of our own nothingness.” A person may “find himself getting all kinds of strange ideas.”9

OUT IN THE OPEN

To peel off another layer, we find many pro-contemplative writings relatively open in their explanations—like these articles from three different websites.

1. The article “Contemplative Prayer in the Western Tradition” states that contemplative prayer goes “beyond the level of sense perception.” Even the word mantric is used to describe the repetitive, mind-emptying technique.10

2. “The History of Centering Prayer” specifically mentions that Fathers Pennington and Keating, the architects of centering prayer, went to “ancient sources” to revive this “simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people.”11 You might assume those ancient sources mean the Bible. But in their book Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington and Keating are clear that they draw on Eastern practice: “We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and ‘capture’ it for Christ. . . . [We should] acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. . . . Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped . . .”12

3. At contemplativechristian.com, proponents try to tie contemplative prayer to the Bible and dispel any idea that it is a “new age belief system” but admit the practice is in all world religions. The writer is excited about the “deliberate efforts to encourage contemplative prayer” in Protestant churches, stating, “The Protestant Church can’t boast of this kind of historical tradition, as its concern for the Bible as sole truth has limited its receptivity.”13

I find it impossible to mesh with Christianity the “contemplation” of the mentors named on the third site. There’s Thomas Merton again; Richard Rohr, who hosts Zen retreats at his center14; and Teresa of Avila.

Teresa of Avila was the medieval nun best known for her book Interior Castle, whose contemplative experience was described as:

. . . a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, intermitted sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. From this the subject awakens in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, productive of the trance.15

Though the biographies of medieval contemplatives tell of levitation, self-torture and starvation, and erotic encounters with entities, today’s promoters tend not to mention that!

WHAT NOW?

I’m stunned when some respond, “I do contemplative prayer but not your definition of it.”

It’s not my definition; we’ve established that. But for the sake of argument, let’s say there are two kinds of contemplative prayer: a good kind rooted in “ancient Christian practice” and a bad kind rooted in Eastern/occult practice. Then we should be able to produce two lists of experts, one promoting each kind.

But after years of research, I’ve come up with only one list—because there is only one.

Both the people who claim contemplative prayer is not of Eastern/occult association and those who gladly affirm its occultic roots reference and recommend the same list of experts—those mentioned above and more. Philip Yancey labels such experts “masters of prayer.”16 J. K. Jones calls them a “lush rainforest of spiritual giants.”17 The Web Site of Unknowing speaks of their “fascinating theological insights.”18

Such recommendations influence us, especially after we’ve already been seduced by ethereal words like these:

“In silence and contemplation, we rest from all of our human striving and division.”19

“Move beyond thinking into a place of utter stillness with the Lord . . . and then God works.”20

“It is to this silence that we all are called.”21

A vast crowd has been quoting and recommending today’s proponents of contemplative prayer while also misunderstanding them. If the writer is following in the footsteps of Foster, Merton, and the medieval Catholic mystics, then he or she absolutely does not mean normal silent prayer and legitimate biblical meditation. The “contemplation” and “silence” of the mystics is mantra meditation. That’s what the authorities being referenced mean.

If you’re not doing contemplative prayer, this might be a good time to consider not applying that term to what you are doing.

And . . . well, if you have been doing contemplative prayer, please research further what’s been presented here. Look to the Scriptures. Our God is not silent on these things. Isaiah speaks of the Lord abandoning his people because they had adopted practices “from the east” (Isaiah 2:6). Deuteronomy 12:30, 31 is just one of many passages with warnings about being “snared” by false worship: “Inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God.” We can take some cues from Jesus’ instruction against using “vain repetitions, as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7). And there’s Peter’s call to prayer, which speaks of clearheadedness, not an empty mind: be “sober, and watch” (1 Peter 4:7).

This is just the tip of the iceberg, friends. Contemplative prayer is a dangerous, unscriptural practice. And that’s calling a spade a spade.

To order copies of So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?, click here. 

Endnotes
1. Ken Wilson, Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009), p. 9.
2. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), pp. 155-157.
3. Occultists themselves admit this connection. For example, in Richard Kirby’s book, The Mission of Mysticism, he states, “The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics,” p. 7.
4. Thomas Merton, Zen and the Birds of Appetite (New York, NY: New Directions Books, 1968), p. 79.
5. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
6. Thomas Merton, Thoughts on the East (New York, NY: New Directions Books, 4th Printing), pp. 70, 76.
7. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Doubleday, Image Books edition, 1971), pp. 109, 103, 101, 37.
8. Ibid., p. 42.
9. Ibid., pp. 40, 100, 101, 35.
10. “Contemplative Prayer in the Western Tradition”  (http://www.kyrie.com/inner/contemplative/contemplative_prayer_western_tradition.htm).
11. “History of Contemplative Prayer” (http://web.archive.org/web/20100718142654/http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_history_prayer).
12. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6.
13. http://web.archive.org/web/20130909233645/http://contemplativechristian.com/contemplative-prayer/history.
14. Richard Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (https://cac.org/richard-rohr).
15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Teresa_of_Avila.
16. Philip Yancey, Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), p. 184.
17. J.K. Jones, “What the Monks Can Teach Us” (Christian Standard, 2/22/09, http://christianstandard.com/2009/02/cs_article-1128), p. 7.
18. Carl McColman, “Who Are the Christian Mystics?” (http:www.anamchara.com/mystics).
19. Ruth Haley Barton, “Make a Joyful Silence” (Sojourners, February 2009, http://sojo.net/magazine/2009/02/make-joyful-silence).
20. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), p. 15.
21. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003), p. 66.

To order copies of So You Want to Practice “Good” Contemplative Prayer . . . What’s Wrong With That?, click here. 

2012 YEAR IN REVIEW – Part 3 – “Top 9 Out-of-House Articles By Like-Minded Ministries”

1/A Special Report: The Healing Codes – The secret of health and prosperity revealed? by Mike Oppenheimer (Let Us Reason)

The Healing Code book has been seen in USA Today, People, Time magazine, as well as many other print media publications and has been printed in 16 languages to over 17 countries. It is the #1 bestseller in 11 categories on Amazon. Dr. Loyd lectures all over the world live, on radio, Internet, and TV. Thousands of people from all 50 states and more than 143 countries have now practiced The Healing Codes. This is not some obscure discovery being practiced by just a few.

2/Consider the Troubles of Israel – Psalm 9  by Bill Randles (Pastor Believers in Grace)

Why has Israel been so universally hated? What is it about her that consumes so much frenetic activity in world forums such as the United Nations? Why so many censures of the only free and democratic nation in the middle east? How could there even be a suggested ‘moral equivalence ‘ in discussions of Israel and her enemies?

3/“Should Christians Do Contemplative Prayer?” – That’s a Good Question!  by Lynn Lusby Pratt

How about if we call a spade a spade? I’m speaking of contemplative prayer. If you’ve been using the term as the new way to describe your own practice of getting alone with God, being quiet, and praying silently . . . well, you haven’t been doing contemplative prayer (also called centering prayer, breath prayer, and Jesus’ prayer). It’s easy to misunderstand. Popular writers and teachers portray contemplative prayer in vague language that seems “almost intentionally inaccessible.”

4/Sharing Speaking Platforms: Compromises and Consequences by Chris Lawson (Spiritual Research Network)

Many years ago Pastor Chuck Smith’s long-time associate, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s Associate Pastor, L.E. Romaine, once told me personally”Don’t complain about it unless you first try to do something about it.”Pastor Romaine was exhorting us (pastors) not to complain about anything, unless we seek first to aright the situation, no matter what it is. Obviously, the Bible says we are not to grumble and complain, and Romaine knew that too. Romaine was simply communicating to us that we ought to deal with issues and not make messes in the church; theological, or otherwise. The following material is not meant to be a complaint, but an introduction as to why Calvary Chapel is not standing against Ecumenical compromises. I am not complaining, I am telling the truth.

5/Can’t We All Share One Religion? by Berit Kjos (Kjos Ministries)

“Religion for Everyone!” The message in this strange article (featured in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal) fits right into the UN vision of global solidarity. The author, Alain de Botton, presents a radical plan for social unity that meets the demands of the global agenda. By blending useful practices from the world’s religious traditions, it would mold minds, transform communities and establish new rules and rituals for all. There would be no room for Biblical Christianity.

6/The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment? by Carl Teichrib (Forcing Change)We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression – particularly as we try to build relevancy in a post-modern culture – it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences

7/IHOP-KC/Onething website mum about Catholic participation by John Lanagan (My Word Like Fire)

The Catholic Track is theoretically separate from the International House Of Prayer Track at the IHOP Onething Christian Conference 2012. Except that people can go to either–and when Catholic and Christian kids are in hotels for four days during Onething, they will definitely be going to whatever is happening at Onething. The fact that Bickle is doing this sends the message that the Catholic Church is part of the Body Of Christ. So, the Catholics are making a very big deal out of this.

8/Discernment Detractors: Calling Good Evil by Warren B. Smith (Mountain Stream Press)

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
 —Isaiah 5:20 In the first book of Kings, God comes to Solomon in a dream and tells him he can ask for anything that he wants: “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” 
—1 Kings 3:5 Solomon asks for discernment: He wants to be able to discern the difference between what is good and bad—between good and evil.

9/Emerging Church Tony Jones Says: “Death to Homeschooling!” by Steve Blackwell (IndyWatchman)

It is not unusual to find those who prefer not to homeschool, for whatever reason: time constraints, job constraints, perceived inability to teach, they
like the time away from the kids, etc., but to pronounce a death sentence on what has proved to be a very successful method of teaching, creating family
closeness, transferring personal values, protecting from negative influences, or  instilling historic Christian principles, is puzzling, coming from a
“Christian.” Tony doesn’t state why he so detest homeschooling, so he allows us to draw our own conclusions. Making use of the term “death to homeschooling” may  actually expose a deeper desire for the state to mandate education, fulfilling  Tony’s belief in a liberal social gospel, taking us back into the Dark Ages.

Related:

2012 YEAR IN REVIEW – Part 2: “Top 10 Out-of-House News Stories by Various Agencies”

2012 YEAR IN REVIEW – Part 1: “Top 10 Book and Film Reviews”

“Should Christians Do Contemplative Prayer?” – That’s a Good Question!

By Lynn Lusby Pratt

How about if we call a spade a spade? I’m speaking of contemplative prayer.

If you’ve been using the term as the new way to describe your own practice of getting alone with God, being quiet, and praying silently . . . well, you haven’t been doing contemplative prayer (also called centering prayer, breath prayer, and Jesus’ prayer).

It’s easy to misunderstand. Popular writers and teachers portray contemplative prayer in vague language that seems “almost intentionally inaccessible.”1

About seven years ago, I began to seriously investigate. Having some knowledge of Eastern religions and the occult, I soon saw red flags. I found that contemplative prayer is neither contemplative (thinking deeply) nor prayer (talking to God). Instead, it involves a mantra (a word or phrase repeated for ten to twenty minutes) as the means for erasing thoughts.

I would have voted for the practice not to be called contemplative prayer! But alas, it’s too late. That term and its meaning have been established for centuries.

The process itself is the same for mystics of all religions—in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, in Hinduism with transcendental meditation and yoga, in Sufism (Islamic mysticism), in the meditation of New Age spirituality, and in contemplative prayer. Participants are advised to choose a “sacred word.” But the repetition renders any words meaningless (ask a psych prof), so it doesn’t really matter whether a Christian says “Jesus loves me” or a Buddhist says “Hail to the Lotus.” The repetition induces an altered state of consciousness in which the practitioner senses a “union with the divine,” having presumably contacted the god of choice.

“But that can’t be!” you protest. “I know what I read about contemplative prayer.” Do you?

 ASK THE EXPERTS

We can learn all we need to know from two recognized experts on the subject, Richard Foster and Thomas Merton.

Richard Foster, author of the best-selling Celebration of Discipline, contends that contemplative prayer is not Eastern. But what he describes matches Eastern practice, and he favorably refers to Eastern and occult proponents. In his book Prayer, Foster teaches that the practice is “unmediated,” exclusive—“not for the novice,” “wordless,” and dangerous—requiring that “prayers of protection” be offered against dark forces before one attempts it.2

Unmediated. Scripture speaks of Jesus as our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and the Holy Spirit and Jesus as intercessors (Romans 8:26, 34). I have no idea what Foster considers a hindrance in normal prayer that should be bypassed in favor of “unmediated” prayer.

Exclusive. Are we to believe Jesus forgot to tell us that certain prayer is reserved just for the initiated? And that this secret was only finally figured out by medieval mystics? Where’s the evidence?

Wordless. Foster does not mean praying silently, in our minds. Upon further study, it’s clear that he means no word spoken or thought. No content. Is there in the Bible a kind of prayer with no content? Is this “silence” (also sometimes called the void or the pure darkness) a sacred place where God speaks and acts?

Dangerous. No true prayer offered to the true God could accidentally dial a wrong number! The Lord hears us when we call (Psalm 4:3; Isaiah 58:9). I submit that dark forces could be contacted during contemplative prayer because mysticism opens occult doors.3

The late Thomas Merton’s books remain popular with Christians even though his Catholic theology gave way to Buddhism—a religion with no creator God and, of course, no Jesus. Merton said that Buddhism is “an opening to love.”4 And “I am going to become the best Buddhist I can.”5 Merton echoes Foster’s four points about the nature of contemplative prayer:

Unmediated. Merton speaks of “direct realization” and even of going “‘beyond God’ to the ultimate perfect emptiness.”6

Exclusive. What is experienced is “the sign of the Spirit upon the Chosen People of God.” Do it wrong, and you’ll be “impervious to the deepest truths.” Only in this experience can you find God, he says, but he also scolds “people who try to pray and meditate above their proper level.”7

Wordless. “Often making use of no words and no thoughts at all.”8

Dangerous. There is a “danger of psychological regression,” a “deep dread and night,” a descent into “dread to the center of our own nothingness.” A person may “find himself getting all kinds of strange ideas.”9

OUT IN THE OPEN

To peel off another layer, we find many pro-contemplative writings relatively open in their explanations—like these articles from three different websites.

• The article “Contemplative Prayer in the Western Tradition” states that contemplative prayer goes “beyond the level of sense perception.” Even the word mantric is used to describe the repetitive, mind-emptying technique.10

• “The History of Centering Prayer” specifically mentions that Fathers Pennington and Keating, the architects of centering prayer, went to “ancient sources” to revive this “simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people.”11 You might assume those ancient sources mean the Bible. But in their book Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington and Keating are clear that they draw on Eastern practice: “We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and ‘capture’ it for Christ. . . . [We should] acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. . . . Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped . . .”12

• At ContemplativeChristian.com, proponents try to tie contemplative prayer to the Bible and dispel any idea that it is a “new age belief system” but admit the practice is in all world religions. The writer is excited about the “deliberate efforts to encourage contemplative prayer” in Protestant churches, stating, “The Protestant Church can’t boast of this kind of historical tradition, as its concern for the Bible as sole truth has limited its receptivity.”13

I find it impossible to mesh with Christianity the “contemplation” of the mentors named on that site. There’s Thomas Merton again; Richard Rohr, who hosts Zen retreats at his center14; and Teresa of Avila, the medieval nun best known for her book Interior Castle, whose contemplative experience was described as “a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, intermitted sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. From this the subject awakens in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, productive of the trance.”15

Though the biographies of medieval contemplatives tell of levitation, self-torture and starvation, and erotic encounters with entities, today’s promoters tend not to mention that!

WHAT NOW?

I’m stunned when some respond, “I do contemplative prayer but not your definition of it.”

It’s not my definition; we’ve established that. But for the sake of argument, let’s say there are two kinds of contemplative prayer: a good kind rooted in “ancient Christian practice” and a bad kind rooted in Eastern/occult practice. Then we should be able to produce two lists of experts, one promoting each kind.

But after years of research, I’ve come up with only one list—because there is only one.

Both the people who claim contemplative prayer is not of Eastern/occult association and those who gladly acknowledge that it is reference and recommend the same list of experts—those mentioned above and more. Philip Yancey labels such experts “masters of prayer.”16 J. K. Jones calls them a “lush rainforest of spiritual giants.”17 The Web Site of Unknowing speaks of their “fascinating theological insights.”18

Such recommendations influence us, especially after we’ve already been seduced by ethereal words like these:

• “In silence and contemplation, we rest from all of our human striving and division.”19

• “Move beyond thinking into a place of utter stillness with the Lord . . . and then God works.”20

• “It is to this silence that we all are called.”21

A vast crowd has been quoting and recommending today’s proponents of contemplative prayer while also misunderstanding them. If the writer is following in the footsteps of Foster, Merton, and the medieval Catholic mystics, then he or she absolutely does not mean normal silent prayer and legitimate biblical meditation. The “contemplation” and “silence” in that case would be mantra meditation. That’s what the authorities being referenced mean.

If you’re not doing contemplative prayer, this might be a good time to consider not applying that term to what you are doing.

And . . . well, if you have been doing contemplative prayer, please research further what’s been presented here. Look to the Scriptures. Our God is not silent on these things. Isaiah speaks of the Lord abandoning his people because they had adopted practices “from the east” (2:6). Deuteronomy 12:30, 31 is just one of many passages with warnings about being “snared” by false worship: “Inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God.” We can take some cues from Jesus’ instruction against using “vain repetitions, as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7). And there’s Peter’s call to prayer, which speaks of clearheadedness, not an empty mind: be “sober, and watch” (1 Peter 4:7).

This is just the tip of the iceberg, friends. Contemplative prayer is a dangerous, unscriptural practice. And that’s calling a spade a spade.

#   #   #   #

(Scriptures are from the KJV.)

Endnotes

1. Ken Wilson, Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009), 9.

2. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 155-157.

3. Christian experts on the occult would agree. See Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All (Joplin, MO: College Press, 2010 edition), 177, for example.

4. Thomas Merton, Zen and the Birds of Appetite, www.books.google.com, 79.

5. Thomas Merton, quoted at http://www.contemplatives.us/archives.

6. Thomas Merton, Thoughts on the East, www.books.google.com, 88.

7. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Doubleday, Image Books edition, 1971), 109, 103, 101, 37.

8. Ibid., 42.

9. Ibid., 40, 100, 101, 35.

10. http://www.kyrie.com/inner/contemplative/contemplative_prayer_western_tradition.htm.

11.  http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_history_prayer.

12. Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, Finding Grace at the Center, quoted at http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com.

13. http://www.contemplativechristian.com/contemplative-prayer/history.

14. http://www.cacradicalgrace.org.

15. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Teresa_of_Avila.

16. Philip Yancey, Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 184.

17. “What the Monks Can Teach Us,” Christian Standard, 2/22/09, 7.

18. http://www.anamchara.com/mystics.

19. Ruth Haley Barton, “Make a Joyful Silence,” http://www.marinachristian.sitewrench.com.

20. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005),15.

21. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003), 66.

#   #   #   #

Lynn Lusby Pratt is the author of Devotions by Dead People and Debt Free College—We Did It!


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