Contemplative Prayer PART II: Returning To The Biblical Pattern

There are methods of prayer that reach the Throne-room of God and others that do not. How can we discern the difference?

Contemplative Prayer

by Paul Benson

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. -Paul an apostle of Christ

Last week I encouraged my readers to consider an article by MattS from aminutetomidnite.com on the dangers of engaging in the practices many have come to call Contemplative Prayer. If you have not yet read it I would encourage you to do so as he expounds upon many of the problems I am attempting to bring a balance and correction to with this piece. As I will not be repeating his efforts to expose these counterfeit methods of prayer and meditation you might not fully ‘get’ some of the things I have to say without that background. Here is that article:

Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer?  by MattS @ aminutetomidnite.com

Now let’s take a look at what the Scriptures have to say about contemplation, meditation, prayer, and lingering in the presence of God undertaken in a manner that edifies the believer and glorifies the Lord.

The Language Of God Versus The Language Of Satan

In my opinion one of the most critically needed discernments of these last days is recognizing the marked difference in the language of God compared to the language of Satan. God is a God of TRUTH. That which God speaks forth is truth. ALL OF IT! (Every word of God is pure. Proverbs 30:5).

The language of Satan comes to us in words of MIXTURE. Satanic error intermingled with the words of life which originally came from God himself. Truth turned into a lie. A lie that still sounds remarkably like truth, but is full of deceit and misdirection.

Truth is quite evident in nearly all satanic oration; but, just as a rat poison is 98% wholesome grain and 2% Strychnine poison, Satan uses that truth as a medium to carry forth the poison of error. And this unholy mixture will adversely affect, or possibly destroy, all who can be convinced to consume Satan’s poisonous pollution of what was once divine and pure.

Sadly it seems most American Christians are quite fluent in Mixture-speak but not so articulate when it comes to the unabridged Word of God. This has come about by allowing ourselves to be filled with the wisdom and teachings of man instead of making the Word of God our mainstay.

And we need to realize Satan utilizes this twisting and perverting of truth in ALL aspects of his war against God and his people – including his efforts to rob us of the benefits and results we can find in a true scriptural expression of prayer!

The Baby and The Bath Water

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Hebrews 2:1

We need to be careful that in resisting and rebuking Satan’s twisted counterfeits of God’s truth, and the way he taints the patterns the Bible has given us to follow, that we don’t lay aside or neglect the genuine. We’ve all heard the old adage: ‘Be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water!’ Sound advice, but I have observed that most ‘Discernment Ministries’ are prone to do just that.

Many, such as Hank Hanegraaff in his 1997 book ‘Counterfeit Revival’, have done extensive work exposing false workers in our midst; but then have gone completely off the rails by including truly anointed men and women of God in their list of deceivers just because their teachings and methods of ministry don’t line up with their *Cessationist theology!

They look at the rotted fruit and false teachings of many who call themselves Prophets and Apostles in this day and age and then tell us not to believe anyone who claims to be one. They tell us the offices of Prophet and Apostle no longer exist (and then they elevate the biblical role of eldership (pastor-teacher Eph. 4:11) to an non-scriptural position of overlord)!

They look at the false signs and lying wonders following so many apostate Charismatics and then condemn ALL who have signs and wonders following their ministries. They claim the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and label any praying in the Spirit (speaking in tongues) as foolishness and gibberish! If tongues are gibberish then I gibber quite often! I wonder what the Apostles of Christ would think of having their praying in the Spirit labeled as gibberish?

*From Wikipedia: In Christianity, Cessationism is the doctrine that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and healing ceased with the apostolic age. This is generally opposed to Continuationism, which teaches that the Holy Spirit may bestow the spiritual gifts on persons other than the original twelve apostles at any time. Cessationists believe that when the Old Testament canon closed at Malachi, for the next 400 years until John the baptist, the gifts had ceased. Similarly, when the New Testament canon closed the gifts ceased.

They have thrown out the baby with the bath! The same goes for the matter of Contemplative Prayer. Anything that bares any resemblance to the wayward expression of prayer and meditation associated with Yoga, Eastern Mysticism, Transcendental Meditation, etc. is frowned upon in most conservative or ‘cessationist minded’ churches even if there IS a basis for it in Scripture and the practices of the early believers! But we need to be careful we don’t follow suit and disregard the genuine just because the counterfeit is so prominent and blatantly anti-biblical.

Watchings??????

In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 2Corinthians 6:5

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 2Corinthians 11:27

I think if you asked most Christians what the concept of ‘watchings’ was all about they would tell you: “Oh, that is where we are to be looking for and anticipating Christ’s Coming. We are to be watching for him!” And I do concur we ought to be anticipating the Return of our Lord Jesus. But that is not what I am talking about concerning the practice of ‘watchings’. Let me illustrate with Strong’s definition of the word as it is used in the words of Christ in the verses that follow.

G1127

γρηγορεύω grēgoreuō gray-gor-yoo’-o

From G1453; to keep awake, that is, watch (literally or figuratively): – be vigilant, wake, (be) watch (-ful).

Total KJV occurrences: 23

As is often the case our modern vernacular (and also our modern religious mindset) has lost touch with word meanings that the early believers were very much in touch with. A soldier assigned a duty had to ‘keep a watch’; meaning he had to forgo sleep and stay awake to be about his business.

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me…  …40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Matthew 26:38+40

As our Lord was in travail over the events to come he had asked his disciples to watch (stay awake) and linger with him in prayer before the Father. If Jesus saw the need to linger in prayer for spiritual strength how much more should we?

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3

In this day you can hardly find a church that has a time of prayer at all for its meetings; let alone a set prayer night where folks linger in prayer and travail for God to work in their midst, manifest his presence, or save souls. Watching and praying seems to have become a lost art to the American Church. We don’t need to seek any new(age) methods of encountering God; and we certainly don’t need all the supposed ‘New Revelation’ coming out of Bethel/K.C. and company, nor any of the anti-biblical practices they teach. What we need is to repent and return to the ‘old paths’.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16

We simply need to return to the biblical pattern as shown in the lives and ministries of the Apostles of Christ as recorded in the Scriptures. You can keep all your ‘new revelation’ to yourselves. I’m sticking with the old paths!

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

Jesus taught his followers that ‘watching’ and praying would somehow keep the weakness of the flesh from leading them into temptation. There appears to be a very real strengthening of the inner-man, and also a very real lessening of the control/power of the flesh, that comes about by the practice of lingering before the Father in prayer. And the Scriptures absolutely do also encourage contemplation and meditation:

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Psalms 119:148

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 1Timothy 4:15

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalms 1:2

There is absolutely nothing satanic afoot with shutting out the world and lingering before the Lord in contemplation, meditation, and prayer! But we need to do so in accord with the biblical pattern! The twisted practices of the new-agers and pseudo-Charismatics will steer you in directions that are hazardous to your spiritual well-being (and that is putting it mildly!).

Partaking of the Divine Nature

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 16:25

There is nothing wrong with seeking knowledge of the Divine. And seeking communion/reconciliation with God is indeed a praiseworthy endeavor. But there is a true path that leads to God, and there is a path of deception that leads to death. How can we know which is the right path for those who desire to rise above the failings of this fallen world and partake of the divine nature of our Creator?

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Peter 1:3-4

This passage is key to understanding the process of true spiritual enlightenment. We are told that God has offered forth all things that pertain to life, godliness, and partaking of the divine nature (becoming like he is). How do we attain these? By his exceeding great and precious promises! By receiving and believing the promise of his Holy Word and the Gospel (good news/promise) of his Son that the Bible brings to us!

We are to approach God through faith; and the most perfect definition of Christian faith in my opinion is a confidence like Abraham had that what God has promised he will perform! (see Romans 4:21-22)

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

As believers we are told to FILL our minds and hearts with the Word of God, to meditate upon it, to believe it, and to act upon it. THAT will bring spiritual enlightenment and communion with the ‘Divine’. That will open to us the Door that leads to the path of eternal life. Jesus (the Word of God) is that Door; and there is none other way that leads to life. No alternative route!

You can’t meditate your way into eternal life; and you will never focus your spiritual energy enough to save yourself. The non-biblical methods employed by those embracing the practices (and philosophies) of Eastern Mysticism etc. are an exercise in vanity; and worse yet, can actually open you up to the control of demonic forces! BEWARE! Much of what goes on in many so-called ‘Christian’ meetings and ministries is just christianized Eastern Mysticism (or outright satanic manifestation!).

Be Ye Filled versus Empty Your Mind

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

I am a big fan of simply stated truth. And I think much of the danger of these wayward spiritual practices being promoted concerning prayer and meditation can be highlighted by recognizing the difference in the pseudo-Christian practice of emptying your mind/opening your mind versus the biblical practice of filling your mind/guarding your mind.

That insight is one that definitely deserves a ‘Let’s Get It Right!’.

There is no where in the Bible that we are told to ’empty our mind’ or to repeatedly chant a mantra to put us in a state of receptiveness! (Jesus plainly spoke of the vanity of repetitious utterance in regard to prayer. Matt. 6:7) Should we really think that chanting is how to communicate with our Father? I really enjoyed a comment from Ginny to last weeks article:

GINNY: Yes, I agree. While on earth, Jesus talked in normal fashion to other people, and he spoke to the Father with normal sentences. The Lord’s Prayer is teaching us to also speak in normal fashion to the invisible God the Father. In the Old Testament, godly men interacted with God in normal spoken conversation. I laugh when I think what my husband would have done if I had sat cross-legged in front of him with a vacant stare repeating his name over and over in order to communicate. “What are you DOING?!? are you going CRAZY???” Unbiblical religions don’t know how to reach the True God, so they make their own ways. What on earth are we copying their methods for? God hates us doing that. But it is introduced and taught so covertly and attractively by people we “trust”, that we can easily become won over or tolerant! What a time to contend for the Biblical faith!

Amen Ginny! And how strange that so many of these new-age gurus/teachers/prophets tell those they are deceiving to focus upon, and and meditate upon, the dark expanse of nothingness! What possible benefit or edification could possibly come from meditating upon NOTHING? How about:

NONE?

Anyone that tells you to empty your mind, clear your thoughts, focus upon nothing, etc. in order to reach out and receive the divine is someone you need to strongly rebuke and get yourself away from! Seriously! That is a false path that will open you to deception and demonic oppression. Run for your life when you meet these people. They are not in touch with God our Creator. They are channeling seducing spirits and doctrines of devils!

Those that know the true path to life will speak the Word of God to you and point to Jesus as the only Way to reach the Father. They will encourage you to get your heart and mind FILLED with the promises of God, rehearse them over in your thoughts continually, and never set them aside to seek an alternative path to God.

Keep Us From Evil

There have over the years been a great number of meetings and conferences in our area featuring the prophets and teachers from the Bethel/Kansas City/NAR crowd and those who are like-minded. For several years I attended these events regularly listening to what was being taught and seeking discernment as to the validity of this supposed ‘wave of revival’.

In associating with, and attending meetings with, those who follow and set under these teachings I encountered a strange thing. I was rebuked for engaging in intercession for these meetings along these lines: that God would keep the attendees from false teachings and the manifestation of deceiving spirits, and also from being led astray by false signs and wonders.

Remarkably, I was informed that those types of prayers, particularly just prior to (or silently during) these meetings, was considered taboo! Such intercession was deemed to be a hindrance to the ‘manifestations’ everyone was seeking after and opening themselves up to. I was told this was engaging in unbelief and being closed minded; and that it adversely affected those seeking to be ‘open to receiving’!

And as I spent many (and I mean MANY!) hours either attending conferences, watching videos, and reading the books of these speakers I found that this attitude, that intercession against deception just prior to or during ‘manifestation time’ was frowned upon, was not just a local phenomenon. The exhortation to refrain from any behavior (including prayer for divine protection!) that could be considered ‘not being open to receive’ was a staple in the writings and orations of these folk I was examining!

But I had to ask: HOW could prayer for God’s divine intervention and protection hinder the true manifestation of his Spirit? When did praying ‘Lord keep us from evil’ become an act of unbelief?

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

In the instructions our Lord Jesus Christ gave his followers concerning prayer he said we should pray that God would have HIS way, and also that we should pray he would direct our paths and keep us from evil. That is NOT unbelief! That is not failing to trust God or being closed minded. It is casting our hope upon he who is able to keep us and guide us.

Watch Your Step!

God is not dead! And he is not on vacation. There is a genuine move of God among his people and upon the lost in this day! But there is also a satanic counterfeit at work today to deceive the masses and lead them away from God and bring them under the umbrella of the coming global religion. And this ecumenical counterfeit can at times appear so similar to the genuine that at times those lacking discernment or a strong foundation in the Word of God can be easily fooled.

Just exactly what is Contemplative Prayer? I honestly can’t tell you!

To one it means one thing, and to another it means something a lot different. To one it describes the wayward practices involved in Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Eastern Religion etc.; but to another it may mean lingering in the presence of God in prayer and meditating upon the promises of his Holy Word. There are so many people with so many different attitudes about Contemplative Prayer, and such a varied definition among folks as to what it is or is not, that it is hard to point a finger at it and say: Don’t do that!

So I think a guarded attitude and much prayer for divine protection is not only wise, but absolutely crucial, when engaging in any quest for spiritual enlightenment. And seeking to engage in a deeper expression of prayer and meditation is no different.

But let’s not draw back from seeking God in a radical manner just because there is danger out there; or because so many are engaging in bogus practices all the while claiming to be ‘enlightened’!

Those Cessationists or ultra-conservatives (call them what you will) who deny the true manifestation of the giftings of the Holy Spirit, and who say modern day tongues, signs, wonders etc. are all of the Devil are not doing us (or themselves!) any favors. In fact they are robbing themselves and others of much blessing and edification. And they are in grave danger of fulfilling the words of the apostle:

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… …Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2Timothy 3:5-7

We don’t want to be counted in the number of those who deny the power of God; and cannot move into the deeper things of God because of our unbelief.

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18

This Christian walk is supposed to be a continual unfolding of the revelation of God’s majesty and purposes! So, yes, do seek a deeper and richer communion with God through prayer, meditation and contemplation. (I am exhorting myself here as well as you!)

And remember: There is an enemy out there that is at work to deceive and destroy whom he may with his counterfeit Gospel and counterfeit spirituality. It’s not all good!

The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Proverbs 14:15

But don’t let anyone convince you that it’s all bad either.

Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water!

Paul Benson

http://www.paulbenson.me

 

I welcome your input!

If you have comment or criticism please use the section below. Overly long comments may be edited for length.

Thank you for visiting my site.

Author: Paul Benson

My Website is at www.paulbenson.me. My blog 'Let's Get It Right!' is at pbenson.me.

3 thoughts on “Contemplative Prayer PART II: Returning To The Biblical Pattern”

  1. Great Article Brother Paul.
    Your last exhortation is much needed. I have a question. Praying in tongues is sometimes promoted as a means to enlightenment or deeper revelation. Believing that it is a valid gift for today’s Christian, how can you help someone who, for example, longs to spend more time praying in the spirit, but is afraid that they may open up their minds to the influence of evil forces? How can praying in the spirit become effective without the person ‘being in a state of receptiveness’? Should a Christian pray in the spirit with that kind of expectation?

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    1. Hi Jane;

      I think the key is to realize we do not need to empty our minds to be ‘receptive’ or to draw closer to our Lord. The Scripture says both that we are to be filled with the Spirit and also that we are to be filled with the Word of God. I think the majority of ‘revelation’ I get is the Lord bringing his Word to life in my heart and thoughts. It’s like the Scriptures in me (or as I read) come alive and speak truths to me. Sometimes this happens in prayer, often times it does not. I can be right in the middle of a mundane chore I suddenly have a significant insight imparted to me.

      Having said that let me address one of the benefits of praying in tongues the Bible speaks of: edification.

      1Cor. 14:2-4 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

      When we pray in tongues we are doing just that: Speaking to God. I don’t see that we should expect ‘revelation’ from tongues (although we may well be praying for it in the Spirit); we should see it as approaching God in prayers of thanksgiving or intercession. And I think we should maybe consider the time we spend speaking in tongues with more of an attitude of giving (to God) than one of receiving.

      But in speaking in tongues there is also an edification (strengthening/reviving) of our inner-man that takes place. So I guess we could properly say it does bring us into a ‘deeper’ walk. And we should definitely expect that edification from tongues. But it is the Word of God that speaks ‘deeper revelation’ to us; whether it be meditating upon the Word we have absorbed into our being through study or listening to preaching/teaching, or possibly even a ‘direct download’ as some would call it. Just as we communicate our thoughts, desires, and intentions to others through the means of words so also does the Lord.

      Matt.5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

      If we are genuinely hungering and thirsting after the deeper things of God he will honor his promise to fill that hunger and thirst. It may be through a time of prayer and meditation, through a lengthy time ‘watching’ filled with prayer in tongues, or it may be he sends an anointed time of fellowship where the Word and the Spirit are freely flowing. (Or he may speak to you something profound and deeply quickening through the words on a billboard!) He is truly a God who can reach us in a myriad of ways to draw us close and fill us with the knowledge of his will.

      Luke 11:11-13 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

      We need to have a confidence that when we approach God thru the means he has dictated we are not to worry about receiving form the enemy. It is when we depart (or are seduced away from) God’s ordained patterns that we fall into danger.

      Blessings to you sister;
      Paul Benson

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