Christian Man Practices Contemplative Prayer

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Dear Ray Yungen and Lighthouse Friends,

My deepest thank-you for this website and the book, A Time of Departing. I have been a born again believer for six to seven years now and a youth leader for two. I have passionately pursued Jesus through all of them. However, not always according to truth as you will hear.

Thomas Keating’s book Open Mind, Open Heart introduced me to the form of contemplative prayer called centering prayer nine months ago. I was captured by his deep insights, beautiful sounding wisdom, and impressive use of language. With hesitation, I began to practice centering prayer once or twice a day for about three months. I used the method Thomas Keating teaches by using a sacred word. This word was a symbol of my consent to (what I believed was) the Spirit of God and the Lordship of Jesus. My word was Abba. I repeated this word in silence to help me stop the normal flow of thoughts so my soul could rest in utter stillness, wide open to the presence (I perceived was God). This presence’s comforting touch was beyond adequate expression at times. I was beginning to think Christians could not have this kind of deep intimacy with God apart from contemplative prayer.

My experiences with centering prayer were powerful to me, so it seemed only logical to believe this was God’s blessing upon it. I mean how could it be wrong if my intent was to be with Jesus and the Father in intimacy and be formed into Christ’s image. What was my fruit? Increased gentleness began to enter my life as well as more patience, yet so did more openness to what I could learn from Catholic Mystics, Hindus, and Buddhists. I definitely did not deny Jesus was the only way to the Father, but I could have easily headed down that path. I also read from Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, St. Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, Sue Monk Kidd and others. I was clearly being swept up into their program for spiritual formation (into Christ likeness, as I perceived). Read more …

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