Approaching the Throne of Grace
The Apostasy of Contemplative Prayer
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Second, centering and contemplative prayers bring forward the idea that genuine believers need to do something "special" to enter God's presence. The Bible does not teach this idea. What the Bible does teach is that Jesus did that "something special" for us at Calvary and now, as our High Priest, is our open doorway to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16). Even more, the Bible says true believers already abide in His holy presence, by faith. About this truth the apostle John says, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15.)
Third, the abiding relationship between the Father, Son, Spirit and now the believer is intimate and holy. The Father sees our goings and comings and keeps us from evil and harm (Psalm 121:1). His watchful eye is ever upon us to bless and discipline when necessary. Psalm 91:1 says, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." There can be no closer communion than to experience His love and protection, a promise to all who dwell in the Secret Place.
Fourth, the danger from contemplative prayer is more real than one might imagine. Unbelievers (thinking they are saved) are at risk of opening Pandora's Box, a Greek mythical story revealing ghostly forms escaping to torment the one who opened the box to glance inside.
The Book of Revelation mentions evil spirits escaping from the bottomless pit during the Tribulation to torment humanity (Revelation 9:3-4). Will mantras muttered by the millions of undiscerning people in church be the end-time key to unlock and open Pandora's Box? Is not seeking to experience the supernatural dominion an endeavor to glance inside?
The apostle Paul wrote, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..." (1 Timothy 4:1)
Christine Pack was deceived by deceiving spirits and unbiblical doctrines and repented when she understood the danger. In her article entitled "Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit" she said:
Mantra meditation is so very seductive because it generates a very powerful, seemingly supernatural experiences that can make one feel as if they are actually encountering God. The first meditation I ever did at age 20 left me utterly convinced that I had experienced the presence of God. In hindsight, I believe that this encounter truly was supernatural. Christine went on to explain the evangelical church and others*** practicing these kinds of prayer methods are opening themselves up to the dark side of evil (2 Corinthians 11:14). She continued by warning, "It feels just like you have had an encounter with God, that you have been in the presence of the Divine...only, you haven't." 
Aside from these many forewarnings, Jesus warns against this kind of prayer in Matthew 7:7-9 when He said, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray."
The Lord's Prayer is short and effectual. It is a guide for all to follow during prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
Fifth and finally, centering and contemplative prayer have two close cousins that go by the names of "channeling and necromancy." Channeling is the practice of professedly entering a meditative or trancelike state in order to convey messages from a spiritual guide. Necromancy is nearly the same with the caveat of communicating with the dead. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 warns any person who seeks a mystical experience from God or spirit being is an abomination.
The difference between true prayer and mystical prayer is the difference between right and wrong and day and night and life and death. Satan and his horde have spiritual authority to tingle the flesh with a sense of mystical elation. Those who live for these moments of euphoria will think, as did Christine, God's anointing is upon them. They are wrong of course and follow another spirit on another pathway to another end (1 Timothy 4:1).
There is absolutely no need for a born again believer to enter into a mystical state of consciousness to converse and experience God. A prayer leading to mysticism is powerless, failing to give anyone special audience with the Father. Keating and Merton and others who sponsor mystical prayer (and its many forms) are mistaken and misled.
In closing, Jesus is our centering and contemplative prayer. Because of him we have easy and instant access to the Father (Hebrews 4:16). The prayers of a genuine believer are open, direct, and holy. While our prayer may be no more than a heart-felt thank you or an enduring time of personal worship and devotion, the throne of grace is no more than one thought away.
* Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. is a Trappist monk and priest, known as one of architects of the Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer that emerged from St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1975. Source: Matt Papa; "The problem with seeking God's will"
** The Trappist monk and influential writer Thomas Merton was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation, particularly as found in Zen — he was a lifetime friend of Buddhist meditation master and Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton is known as the architect for contemplative prayer — Source: Thomas Merton
*** The Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Charismatic, Emergent Church, and a growing number of other evangelical churches are practicing mystic prayers to encounter God. I have been in two of these churches and witness these prayer practices first-hand.
1. "What is contemplative prayer?"
2. "Evangelical Leaders Promote New Age and Eastern Spiritual Practices"
3. "What is wrong with contemplative prayer?"
4. "Jan 19: Overcoming"
5., 6. Christine Pack; "Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit"
Image credit: Nadir Hashmi; Meditate; Creative Commons
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