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What Is Contemplative Prayer?
Contemplative prayer is also known as centering prayer. Here is how the CenteringPrayer.com web site defines contemplative prayer:
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself.
Those promoting mindfulness attempt to make it seem a natural part of being human, but they neglect to mention the spiritual and religious source and purpose of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a meditation practice that comes from Buddhism with the overall objective being to create a quiet/stillness of the mind so you can hear grow closer to god. It is an en emptying of the mind in an attempt to gain knowledge of self and/or god. The Christian web site Got Questions defines mindfulness as:
Mindfulness is a term used to describe a meditative state in which people direct their attention inward to become more self-aware. Mindfulness is self-examination of one’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and emotions with no judgment of their being right or wrong. The goal of meditative mindfulness is to identify thoughts and feelings about a particular issue, to live in the moment, and to accept oneself completely. When this goal has been reached, the person is said to have entered a state of mindfulness. -Got Questions
Mindfulness is a practice with the same objects as contemplative prayer, centering prayer, Christian meditation, and Hindu meditation. All of these are the same thing under a different name. All are techniques for quieting your thoughts, emptying your mind, and opening yourself to he spirit world.
The Bible Says We Are to Meditate
It is true, we are to meditate. But, the question should be, what does the Bible mean by meditation? There are three forms of meditation:
- Eastern meditation (Hinduism and Buddhism): The focus is inward and on emptying your mind. It is a passive process intended to still your mind and thoughts.
- Biblical meditation: the focus is on prayer and filling your mind with God's word. It is an active process with the objective of increased knowledge and understanding of God's Word.
- Christian meditation: the focus in inward and on experiencing love and Christ by calming your mind and thoughts. It is a passive process.
I hope you noticed something. There are actually only two forms of meditation. "Christian" meditation is simply eastern meditation wrapped up in a different package so that it appears, on the outside, to be "Christian."
An important point to remember comes from John 8:44 -- "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Satan is a deceiver. The father of lies. He will use lies to get you doing unbiblical practices, that lead you away from Christ, such as eastern meditation. This is why we need to be like the Bereans and check EVERYTHING against scripture. Taking a Hindu practice, describing it using Christian words, does not make it biblical
Identifying That Which Is Not Biblical
Satan continually changes the packaging of his lies. When a lie gets exposed, he just repackages it using a different approach and wording. And people fall for the lie once again. The way to know what is false is to know what is real... meaning to know scripture. Anything that does not match scripture, is false. Be a Berean.
We Are To Meditate (Think About)
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. - Joshua 1:8
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate - Psalm 145:5
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
Our Meditation Is To Be Pleasing to the Lord
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. - Psalm 19:14
Let my meditation be pleasing to Him - Psalm 104:34
How to Meditate
Notice that Josuha 1 talks about meditating on the law of the Lord. "Law of the Lord" refers to the scripture they had at that time. We are to meditate on, think about, all of scripture. Biblical meditation is "prayerful reflection on scripture with a view toward understanding and application in your life. Give prayful thought to God's Word with the goal of conforming your life to His will." (quoted from Fundamentals of the Faith, Grace Community Church [John MacArthur], page 18)
Do as Psalm 145 (above) says, mediditate on the glorious splendor of God's majesty and on His wonderful works. Fill your mind with thoughts of God and who He is. Fill your mind with scripture and prayer about God. That is how to grow closer to God.
Scripture never says to meditation on a word, a phrase, a verse or the name of Jesus. It says to meditate on all of scripture. Fill yourself with God's Word. Anyone who tells you to do other than fill yourself with God's Word is a false teacher to be avoided.
What Happens When You Empty Yourself Instead of Filling Yourself With God's Word?
Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, "I will return to my house from which I came"; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” - Matthew 12:43-45
This describes our evil generation. We use eastern meditation (mindfulness) to "clean" lourselves out, and what we get as a result is seven times worse. Stay away from all forms of eastern meditation, including mindfulness, lectio divina, contemplative prayer, and others. Growing closer to God comes from knowing and understanding His word... meaning filling yourself with God's Word, and studying God's Word, and thinking about (meditating) on His Word and what you are learning.
What is Contemplative Prayer? (GQ)
What is Mindfulness? (GQ)