The acceptance of contemplative prayer has hit an all-time high in the church. And is it any wonder? Christian media, Christian publishers, pastors, mission societies, Bible societies, authors, radio hosts, youth leaders, women’s group leaders, and Christian ministry leaders are all promoting it more than ever. The video below that was posted on Charisma Magazine’s website on September 10th is yet another example of how Christian media (Charisma being one of the most popular Christian magazines today) is doing their part to get masses of Christians involved with contemplative prayer (remember our recent article on YWAM’s goal to get all YWAMer’s doing contemplative prayer).
The Charisma article titled “The Ancient Spiritual Prayer Today’s Church Fails to Practice” states: “[Pastor] Shigematsu offers an easy step-by-step guide on how to do contemplative prayer in this video.”
The pastor who is featured on this video is Pastor Ken Shigematsu. Shigematsu is the author of God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God (2013) and Survival Guide for the Soul (2018, foreword by Ann Voskamp). In what he calls a “spiritual ecosystem,” Shigematsu provides a who’s who of New Age sympathizers and Catholic mystics in God in My Everything, that includes Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, Kathleen Norris, Marva Dawn, Basil Pennington, Richard Rohr, Gerald May, Dorothy Bass, Parker Palmer, Joan Chittister and many of the usual evangelical/Protestant suspects such as Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, and Gary Thomas. In that book, Shigematsu makes no apologies for encouraging Christians to practice various meditation exercises to help calm the mind.
Survival Guide for the Soul is a continuing saga of his earlier book God in My Everything with gleanings from many of the same sources but also added to the mix is contribution from mystics such as David-Steindl Rast, Henry Nouwen, Walter Brueggeman, Thomas Keating, Anne Lamott, John Ortberg, and Dorothy Day.* In Survival Guide, Shigematsu boasts that “The spiritual direction movement is growing, and there are now more than six thousand spiritual directors under the banner of Spiritual Directors International, most of whom serve in North America” (ch. 9, endnote #15). The spiritual direction movement is one of the outgrowths of the contemplative prayer/Spiritual Formation movement (i.e., every contemplative Christian needs a spiritual director to guide and direct his or her esoteric experiences to help avoid any dangerous altercations with devils and demons, which Richard Foster says can occur when practicing contemplative prayer).
If you are someone who is aware of the dangers and the true panentheistic, interspiritual nature of contemplative prayer, you have probably noticed that contemplative spirituality has moved from its infancy stage in the church to what appears to becoming the norm. Because the “big” guys in Christianity (e.g., Rick Warren, Christianity Today, YWAM, Charisma, Focus on the Family) are pushing fast forward to get the church through this mystical paradigm shift and the “little guys (e.g., Lighthouse Trails, The Berean Call) are written off as negative, divisive, and only worthy of being ignored and seen as being out of sync, contemplative spirituality (which encompasses all things emergent) will become the “new” Christianity, and all one has to do to get there is . . . breathe in . . . and breathe out.
To see the video on the Charisma site, click here.
*Most of the names mentioned in this article can be found on the Lighthouse Trails Research Project blog and in many of our published resources. Just use the blog’s search engine to look up the names.
The Christian of the Future by Ray Yungen