National Day of Prayer Featured Author Promotes Contemplative

The National Day of Prayer has chosen Heart’s Cry by Jennifer Kennedy Dean as one of this year’s featured books. Ms. Dean writes about the “listening prayer” in chapter 11 of her book. Here are some excerpts:

“God calls us to silence, inner as well as outer. He inviteds us to listening prayer [contemplative prayer] … in the inner sanctuary of our souls…. Listening prayer is the ground from which spoken prayer grows. Spoken prayer will not reach its fullness unless it is born in listening prayer” (p. 127).

“The place of His presence is within you. YOu will find Him at the center of your being…. God has things to tell you…. Something you didn’t know before?…. When we learn the art of silence, then we create the setting in which God can reveal to us His secrets…. We are not programmed for silence. It does not come naturally to sit quietly in God’s presence without words. Listening to God is a learned discipline” (pp. 128-129).

“[T]o find a way to center your thoughts on God. As you visualize the presence of God, visualize yourself in that presence …. In His presence, I feel the need to empty myself. I visualize placing things on His altar” (p. 129).

In the back of Dean’s book, she recommends two other books she wrote for more information on “listening prayer.” In one of those books, Riches Stored in Secret Places 2, Dean references panentheist Thomas Kelly about four times. It is Kelly who said that within every human being is a divine center, a holy sanctuary (from A Testament of Devotion). Dean quotes Kelly in his chapter called “The Light Within,” in which Dean refers to the “secret sanctuary” (p. 43). This “secret sanctuary” Kelly is speaking of is the “abiding Light behind all changing [life] forms.” Kelly says: “In that Current we must bathe. In that abiding yet energizing Center we are all made one” (p. 38).” In referring to this “secret sanctuary,” which Kelly says is in all of life, Dean tells readers to use “the meditative exercises” in her book. Some of the techniques Dean refers to are lectio divina and visualization (though she does not call them this, but she describes them).

There is concern that the National Day of Prayer will be influenced by contemplative spirituality in other ways too other than Dean’s book. This year’s Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force is Chuck Swindoll, who in his book, So You Want to Be Like Christ: Eight Essential Disciplines to Get You There promotes contemplative prayer, and quotes Henri Nouwen in the book from one of Nouwen’s most contemplative books. In Swindoll’s book, he tells readers that they cannot really know God with out practicing the silence (what he refers to as an inner stillness of the mind; see Misguided Shepherds).

We pray that the National Day of Prayer will not become another conduit for contemplative spirituality. Below is contact information if you wish to speak with NDP to voice your own concerns:

National Day of Prayer Headquarters
National Day of Prayer Task Force
P.O. Box 15616
Colorado Springs, CO 80935

Phone: (719) 531-3379
Fax: (719) 548-4520

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