But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1 NASB)
The basic idea behind Contemplative Prayer is to totally center one's mind on God - not by conscious thought, but by simply feeling God within. Because the mystics claim that silence is God's first language they teach that this form of prayer is more pleasing to God than any other. This of course resonates with people in our modern world who believe that their feeling are a reliable indicator of truth. Thus they assume that if they feel the presence of God, He must be there and they must be doing something pleasing to Him completely forgetting that it is not for us to decide how to approach the Almighty.
Additionally, Contemplative Prayer, as it is taught and practiced in the modern church, is widely believed to to be rooted in the tradition of the Desert Fathers. Not exactly true. Alpha, the "resting state" of the brain, often associated with the transportation to a "higher realm of consciousness" or mystical experience, is harnessed by Buddhist meditators, Hindus, New Agers, Shamans, Witches and 'Christian' mystics alike. Besides which Contemplative Prayer is unsupported by Scripture regardless of how many out-of-context verses supporters put forth in the effort to bolster their claims.
However, since the words meditate, meditation etc. do occur in the Bible, it is imperative that we are aware of the difference between Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation.
Chapter I - An Introduction to Contemplative Prayer
To paraphrase Kenny Oliver (http://thinkerup.blogspot.com) - If you are one of the many modern Christians who stands in awe of what is commonly seen as the deep 'spirituality' of ancient Catholic mystics like the Fathers and Mothers of the desert, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc. If you envy the connection with the Divine that modern mystics like Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton claim to have, chances are you have not taken the time to find out what is behind these practices and the people that teach them. This chapter answers the basic questions of what Contemplative Prayer is, how it is practiced, its claimed importance, the introduction to evangelicals, the spread, and one million dollar question.
Chapter II - The Source of The Tradition
While modern practitioners of Contemplative Prayer believe it to be unique to Christianity, the fact is that Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, & Sufism, as well as Occult/New Age devotees have long practiced an almost identical form of 'prayer'. Many Christian mystics claim that Contemplative Prayer is rooted in the tradition of the early Catholic hermits, ascetics, and monks called the Desert Fathers, which is altogether true. 'Christian' centering prayer as taught and practiced in so much of the church today was learned from Eastern and Occult meditation practitioners. Any differences are superficial at best.
Chapter III - Alpha - An Altered State of Consciousness.
Alpha, the "resting state" of the brain can be achieved very naturally. However, this state is associated with the a "higher realm of consciousness" or mystical experience. Thus Alpha, purposely induced by meditation, chanting, rhythmic breathing and dancing, mantras, etc. is the goal of both Christian and pagan spiritual practitioners and is harnessed by Buddhist meditators, Hindus, New Agers, Shamans, Witches and 'Christian' mystics alike.
Chapter IV - Summary and Conclusion
Contemplative Prayer is unsupported by Scripture regardless of how many out-of-context verses the mystics pull up in the effort to bolster their claims. One of them actually asserts that the Bible doesn't tell us "precisely how God thinks and precisely what God wants". The fact is that silence is not God's first language, we cannot decide how to approach the Almighty, God does not dwell in us, and Christians may be transformed by pagan practices, but certainly not for the better. Finally, if the teachings of the mystics is true, God has been remarkably negligent.
Chapter V - Eastern Meditation Vs Biblical Meditation
Because the words meditate, meditation etc. do occur in the Bible, it is imperative that we know and understand the difference between Buddhist/Hindu/New Age breathing meditation and Biblical meditation.
Chapter VI - ‘Experiencing’ God
Because confessing our sins, reading our Bibles, praying, attending church services and/or Bible studies can all be done without a smidgeon of heartfelt emotion, they can leave us as dry and feeling very far from God. At times our relationship with the Father seems distressingly and frustratingly distant and barren. This is why I believe we need to change our mind set and how we view and tackle this problem. We need to realize that some aspects of faith should be objective and others are subjective, and we really need to stop confusing the two. When we ‘feel’ God is very far away, we should have enough head knowledge to ‘know’ that He is as close as ever and that He is very much in control. We should be reassured just by looking around us and seeing His hand in everything He created.
Chapter VII - Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, and Thomas Keating -
These four influential and very popular teachers of contemplative prayer fraternized with Eastern mystics, embraced the spiritual philosophies and religious practices of Buddhism, Hinduism etc. incorporating them into Christianity. Although they recognized the doctrinal differences, the experiences they felt they had in common apparently trumped all other factors. To add insult to injury they never preached the Gospel message to the practitioners of other religions they came into contact with.
They even endorsed various pagan 'spiritual' books that flatly contradict the Bible. How then can we possibly trust them to point us in the direction of God? Yet, thousands have seen fit to suspend all common sense, ignore the numerous warnings in Scripture, and blindly follow these men as a spiritual leaders.
Drumming in The Contemporary Church
Drumming is an ancient practice being incorporated into our so called 'worship services'. In fact it has become such a fad in recent years, with very many churches firmly convinced that drum circles can be used to praise and worship God. In fact this current trend crosses all denominational lines. Much as proponents try to convince you otherwise, the modern version of drumming was NOT derived from ancient Hebrew customs and was never used in the temple rituals. The obvious question then is - where the practice originated?