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Monday, August 26, 2013

Is Contemplative Prayer Biblical?

In the past few years the mention of contemplative (or centering) prayer has come up in the Christian community.  It is of great concern to me and here is why:

Contemplative prayer is about emptying your mind and focusing on one word or thing and expecting God to give direction or make His presence felt.  So far some of you might think that sounds okay.
After all, the Bible says to Be still, and know that I am God, right?  Well, it may also be interpreted "Cease striving" which gives a whole other dimension to that verse.  There is nothing mystical about prayer when I read about it in the Bible.  We know God through His Word.  Apart from that, we are putting ourselves in the path of dangerous mysticism.

Just looking at some Scripture verses, I find that the contemplative prayer idea actually does not line up with what Scripture says about the mind.  Romans 12:2 talks about the renewing of the mind, Philippians 4:8 talks about what people should fill their minds with, also Psalm 1:2 mentions "...And in His law he meditates day and night."  1 Peter 1:13 mentions preparing your mind for action.  Yes, that may not be talking about prayer specifically, but the Bible never says to empty your mind.  I remember it talks about treasuring God's words  (Psalm 119:11).  When it talks about praying, it tells me to pray according to His will and with thanksgiving and to let my requests be made known to God.  The disciples' prayer gives one terrific example of prayer as well!

The thing that is frightening about the "contemplative prayer" or "centering prayer" idea is that I remember reading or hearing about transcendental meditation which is a pagan practice that involves ... guess what?  Emptying the mind and focusing on something.  Yes, this whole concept takes off of false religions rather than focusing on the truth of the Word of God.  Matthew 6:7 even talks about not heaping up empty phrases as the pagans do supposing they will be heard for their many words.

Sure, it's good to focus on something like a Bible verse and look at passages of Scripture.   I don't need to empty my mind (although sometimes I struggle to think clearly at all with my NCS).  I do realized that it is good to put past sin behind us and forget what lies behind, but this does not mean that we should not have our minds filled with the things of God from His Truth (from the Bible).   I need to be reminded of God's promises and cast my anxieties on Christ.  I need to remind myself to be thankful and to delight myself in the Lord and in His Word.

Who are some of the people connected to this contemplative prayer movement?  People like Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Gary Thomas, etc.
Here is a website that lists some more:

Some links that describe "Centering Prayer" or "Contemplative Prayer" are: (This also has a series of posts on Steps To Successful Prayer that looks interesting .)

Here is one example of how this kind of contemplative stuff is getting into books and Christian circles:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Free Song, Worship, Lacking Evangelism, Free Master's Seminary Lectures

  • I noticed that Sovereign Grace Music has the song "Nothing In All The Earth" as a free download.  The song is very encouraging to me as someone who is struggling with physical suffering right now.  Check it out here.

  • Why do many Christians not evangelize?  9Marks blog had some interesting points on this subject.  I really can identify with isolation, although not entirely.  Still, people do not have to be "friends" before giving the Gospel to people.  Five Reasons We Don't Evangelize - by Michael McKinley.

  • For those who would like to audit some seminary classes from The Master's Seminary free online, they have made some of the lectures free online.  There are men out there who may not be able to attend seminary, and this is one helpful tool for those interested in ministry.  You can visit the site here.

I am having a lot of difficulty doing this post, but I hope that it will edify some people and is worth the effort.  I pray that God will use it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Never Forsaken

I was able to get a free song online in the past that has recently become an encouragement to me. It's "Mighty Fortress" by Aaron Shust. It's not the old hymn that you might be thinking of, but it's lyrics remind me of the Scripture that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). No matter what I am going through in these difficult days, I need to be reminded that God will not abandon me, He won't fail me, and He keeps His promises. I hope you will be encouraged as well.

Aaron Shust - Mighty Fortress (Lyric Video) + FREE SONG DOWNLOAD from centricitymusic on GodTube.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Dark Valley, Last Call, Don't Give Up

  • I have been going through a dark valley with my P.O.T.S. / NCS (autonomic nervous system dysfunctions). I've been to the ER 4 times in 3 or 4 weeks' time.   Nausea, fast heart rate, near fainting, trouble breathing, dizziness, ringing head, and panic are some things I'm struggling with.  I cannot even walk around much anymore with the worsening symptoms.  I need a lot of assistance from my family.  A cardiologist is trying to get me to be able to see a specialist at Vanderbilt University. I'd appreciate for Christians to pray that I will be accepted to see a doctor there if that is God's will (in spite of Vanderbilt being a seemingly anti-Christian school). Also, please pray for endurance for me and my family and for us all to focus on Christ and not the trial.  If you are curious about what I have, you can visit the link here.

  • Not long ago I shared a video on Facebook that I first saw shared by Tony Miano. It is really amazing to see how God works. You never know when you are going to die, and this video shows that a message from a street preacher was used by God shortly before a man passed on.  Please - if you haven't seen this - Don't miss it!

  • Jon Bloom wrote an encouraging blog post that I wanted to share with my blog viewers.  It's about never giving up!  Life can be war and is very exhausting.  It can be tempting to throw in the towel and quit.  If you need encouragement, please click here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

God's View of Sinners, Divorce & Marriage, False Teachers, Unstoppable Kirk Cameron

God loves sinners and hates sinners.  What does that mean and how does that line up with Scripture?

  • What do you look for when you try to spot false teachers?   John MacArthur gives some answers to that in anticipation of the Strange Fire conference coming up in October.

  • Kirk Cameron has another documentary-like movie coming out one night only on September 24th, 2013.  It looks to be worth trying out as it deals with why there is suffering in the world.  The title is Unstoppable.