by Paul Proctor
(Free-lance writer; used with permission)
Mindless mantras are an abomination to God
I once came across a video clip that was taken from a popular television talk show called The View, where liberal former co-host of the show, Joy Behar and conservative former co-host, Elizabeth Hasselbeck got into a heated on-air argument about prayer that was sure to evoke a rousing response from pulpits and pundits across America while creating lots of bubbly buzz for the alphabet network around the workplace water cooler, which is undoubtedly why ABC News posted it on their website – to get more bang for the gang.
As one might expect, little if any biblical truth emerged from the exchange, even among those on the show who are considered Christians. Whatever faith was present on the set that day was largely expressed with “I think” and “I feel” which reduces Christianity to an experiential expression of one’s own opinion rather than a clear and faithful proclamation of God’s Word – big difference. But then, that’s what today’s “Christianity” has become.
The topic was prayer, but at no time during that segment of the show did I hear Jesus Christ ever mentioned by name, much less quoted by any of the hosts. “God” was, however carefully referred to by co-host, Sherri Shepherd as “some thing that is beyond us.” She did refer to Him later as “He,” though Behar jumped in near the end of the segment to say, “You don’t even know if it’s a female,” shortly after which they cut to commercial.
But, sadly, Shepherd’s witness was more pragmatic than biblical, saying things like: “[F]or a lot of people, faith and prayer works.” There was nothing about God’s love, power, mercy, grace, longsuffering, forgiveness, or any other divine attribute. She didn’t even say “God works” – just “faith and prayer works” – promoting a human act rather than the Lord Himself.
All Hasselbeck could come up with in response was: “That prayer is protected as . . . in our freedoms of this country,” awkwardly leaning more on the Constitution and Bill of Rights than the “Everlasting Arms.”
Not surprisingly, Behar was clearly the most un-Christian in her comments, saying things like, “Faith is something that you feel – thinking is something that you do with your brain” – and in reference to people praying about the oil spill, she said: “Let’s see, who do I pray to, Tony Hayward of BP or God?”
Guest host, D.L. Hughley expressed his faith through punch lines, suggesting we only pray when we want something, saying, “We pray when we get in trouble . . . Like, to God we must be that kid that calls every time he needs some money. . . Like, God must hear us and go, ‘What happened now?’” He concluded his Christian witness by saying “Like, you can’t go to Heaven on an American passport . . . you have to have an individual relationship with God,” adding, “The reason that I think we constantly get in trouble, is we don’t pray for the right things . . . Maybe we should pray to learn the lessons of the past.”
I guess that was his gospel presentation.
The Behar/Hasselbeck debate went like this:
Behar: “When prayer takes the place of logical thinking, then I think it’s dangerous . . . then it’s dangerous.”
Hasselbeck: “Prayer’s not illogical.”
Behar: “No, but it takes the place of thinking.”
Hasselbeck: “No, it doesn’t. That’s a completely bigoted statement to say that when I’m praying, I‘m not thinking.”
When it was all said and done, the result was a dialectic disconnect that didn’t glorify God or scripturally edify anyone, but only engaged and enraged participants while leaving listeners to digest a lot of interfaith concepts and spiritual disinformation that muddied the waters of truth via groupthink.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them . . . And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. – Ephesians 5:6-7,11
It may surprise those who were offended by Behar’s comments to learn that, although Hasselbeck was correct in her indignant response, Behar was not all wrong in saying prayer is “dangerous” when it “takes the place of logical thinking.”
You see, there are those in the Church today who practice what is called “Contemplative Prayer” – a New Age-style mantra that is all about emptying one’s mind to allegedly “find God within” by repeating certain words or phrases over and over until the mind is disengaged and no longer thinking – achieving an altered state of consciousness or (alpha state) known as “the Silence” which is indeed “dangerous” considering it opens one up to what the Bible calls “familiar spirits” (demonic influences). It’s rooted in Eastern Mysticism where it is more commonly referred to as “Transcendental Meditation.”
Though Contemplative Prayer is widely practiced in the Emerging Church, it has unfortunately found its way into more traditional churches, especially among young people, thanks in part to a host of “Christian” authors who promote it as “Contemplative Spirituality” or “Spiritual Formation.” There is also “Centering Prayer,” “Breath Prayers,” and “Lectio Divina” – all of which attempt to achieve the same trance-like state.
Lighthouse Trails Research defines the occult practice and movement this way:
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.
Now, considering Joy Behar’s other absurd views on faith, this probably wasn’t what she had in mind, but the show does illustrate a new spirituality at work, where nefarious notions and New Age nonsense are advanced or accepted wittingly or unwittingly by both sides of the political and ideological spectrum through pride-filled and emotionally charged confrontations that do little more than stir controversy and draw crowds with empty religious rhetoric that in the end always diverts attention away from God’s Word and our dire need of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” – Matthew 6:7