Posted in blackaby, experiencing God, false prophets, henry blackaby, mysticism

Blackaby’s Experiencing God: if we’re to find out where God is at work and join Him there, then where is God NOT working?

I was a baby Christian when the church to which I belonged at the time fell under the hoopla regarding Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” study (published in 1990). Even though the study had been produced and circulating for about many years already, it had taken a bit of a while to get to our small church in rural Georgia.

I remember the promises that were made by the people promoting the book/workbook/study. “It will change lives.” “It will transform the entire church”. “There is nothing like it.”

I like to study and I went along with the flow and participated in it with a small group. Perhaps I am a natural skeptic, but from the outset I was leery of anything that promised life change that was not the Bible. As the study concluded, I decided that it was not for me, there were parts I didn’t understand and it made no change in me at all. The parts I didn’t understand were not because the material was complicated or overly theological or in another language. Even the most difficult or demanding of material I’ve studied in the Bible eventually becomes clear through hard work, proper study, and prayer. The Spirit makes it clear.

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130). (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7)

Experiencing the Experiencing God study caused confusion in me, not clarity. It’s what always happens when something I’m studying goes away from the Bible. The Bible is always clear to me. When things are not based on the truths found in the bible, they are cloudy, unclear, murky, opaque. This is how, through discernment, I know what is edifying and what is not.

It’s been 9 years since I took the Experiencing God study. I have learned quite a lot since then, by the Grace of Jesus and the edifying work of the Holy Spirit. I know that Mr Blackaby and co-author Claude King will have a lot to answer for when they stand before Jesus. Mr Blackaby opened the door to mysticism, (aberrant orthodoxy) and he opened the door to an experiential method of getting to know God and living it. (aberrant orthopraxy). The credentials that he had, of being part of the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board and LifeWay, opened the door to allowing and encouraging both extremely poor orthodoxy and poor orthopraxy in the most conservative denominations of the faith.

John MacArthur commented on this remarkable and rapid insinuation of the EG study’s main precepts into even conservative sections of the faith in his essay False Prophets and Lying Wonders,

Similar ideas [that God gives extra-biblical persona, revelation] have found sweeping acceptance even among non-charismatic Christians. Southern Baptists have eagerly devoured Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King, which suggests that the main way the Holy Spirit leads believers is by speaking to them directly. According to Blackaby, when God gives an individual a message that pertains to the church, it should be shared with the whole body. As a result, extrabiblical “words from the Lord” are now commonplace even in some Southern Baptist circles.

I’m saddened that the Experiencing God study is not only still used, but is still a best seller. According to, Experiencing God is ranked #42 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Education > Adult. That is amazing for a religious book/study published in 1990, twenty-five years ago. Many people have reviewed the study and tested it against the Bible. I won’t go into lots of parsing today. I have just a few questions about the book/study.

First, here are a few links to reviewers that have examined the Experiencing God study and why it comes up short when tested against God’s word.

The main point of Experiencing God has been touted again and again as this:

“Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” has a simple -– but challenging -– message: Find out where God is at work and join Him there. (source)

Here is my first question. Where is God NOT working?

Anyone? Anyone?

Yet the Bible says,

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)

The answer of course its that God is working everywhere.

If one digs beyond the motto of the study, there are 7 main points that the study brings up. None are bad on the surface. As a matter of fact, some are good. The trouble with this study is that it combines so much biblical truth with some lies that it makes it past the gate of all but the most discerning. Mixing biblical truth with doses of lies makes for a dense evangelical fog.

Here are the study’s 7 main points, which King and Blackaby call “7 realities”:

So, as number 1 says if God is always at work around us, why does the study always urge us to “Find out where God is at work and join Him there”. Why do we have to ‘find out’? Why do we have to go there to join Him? If I stay here, and don’t go there, am I in a dead zone, a spot where God is not working? Worse, do we obey God by using our visual senses to make a determination as to what God is doing in a particular place? What about the missionary who worked for years and had not one convert? Was God not working there? What happens when we ‘find out’ where God is working because it is a happenin’, exciting church, and then it plateaus, and we scoot off to another happenin’, exciting place, as Rick Warren says, surfing the experience? Have we not covenanted with the people we worship alongside? Do we just abandon them because we see a better prospect somewhere else?

Or is the seed that was planted and then watered by another dead in the ground … or was it simply waiting on God’s timing to grow it? (1 Corinthians 3:6). Do we wander off into where we “see God is working and join him there? Or there? Or how about over there?

Anyway, you can see the inconsistencies in the 7-point bullet list generated by Blackaby and King. Number 7 is particularly troublesome.

Not to mention the most personal experience of God of all. When we repent and believe, He sends the Spirit to dwell IN US. This is the most personal, intimate, wondrous experience on can have with God, His very self dwelling in us making our body His temple. What a poor substitute Blackaby offers, the temporal and fleeting experience of human experience to determine how to know God.

While some things that last are edifying (the Bible, The Valley of Vision, Pilgrim’s Progress), other things that seem like they are lasting (Experiencing God) are not edifying, and indeed, their popularity bespeaks this warning:

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26).

Posted in asceticism, essenes, gnosticism, hermits, mysticism, visions

Swiss town’s resident hermit resigns. Problem? Too many people stopping by

And now for something completely different. This is not, I repeat, NOT, an article from The Onion.

In Switzerland, City Seeks a Hermit Who Also Likes People

Switzerland’s “Katholisches Kirchenblatt,” a Catholic weekly, recently carried an unusual job ad: “Are you an idealistic, religious person who enjoys meeting people?” The ad was placed by the small Alpine city of Solothurn. But Solothurn isn’t looking for a new social worker or priest. It is searching for a hermit.

The town’s hermitage, built into the rock face of a striking gorge, has been empty since March, when its resident hermit, and the first woman to hold the post since 1442, resigned after five years.

Her complaint: People. The constant stream of tourists to the hermitage and neighboring chapel was just too much to handle, according to the city. This time around, Solothurn has updated the job description. “Along with acting as caretaker and sacristan, responsibilities include interaction with the many visitors,” the ad warns potential applicants.

“There’s a bit of a discrepancy between the job title of hermit and the fact he or she has to deal with throngs of visitors,” says Sergio Wyniger, the head of Solothurn’s city council. So far, the city has received 119 applications and expects to make a decision by next week.

The Hermitage of St. Verena, near the small Swiss city of Solothurn,
is searching for a new hermit.

Some thoughts:
–The Catholics still have actual hermits??
–since 1442??
–The Catholics turned a lifestyle into a job description?
–‘Hermit wanted: must like people’. Hmmm, HERMIT…

All kidding aside, and believe me, I’m restraining myself right now, in the false religion of Catholicism, hermits actually have a long history. That history not only exists through to today, but is increasing in popularity. Even as recently as last year, Catholics were putting out the call for hermits. In the Swiss town mentioned above, 120 people applied for the job of “hermit”.

Modern-Day Hermits: Answering the Call to Solitude, Prayer

While we might think of hermits as relics of the Church’s medieval past, today there are many who devote their lives entirely to solitary prayer.

There are Catholic hermits in the US. There are male and female hermits. There are even hermits who are not affiliated with a religious order. Hermits are consecrated by taking certain vows and following certain rules.

In the article above, a US hermit named Maria, who raised her kids and now wants to answer the call to hermit life, explains the rise in recent Catholic hermitism.

“Maria, who lives on the Gulf Coast, thinks the increase in hermits may also be a sign of the times. “The call was answered in the early Church when there was heresy and persecution,” she said. “The world had become so wicked; people could not exist in it anymore.” “

That is the point, the world IS wicked. Christ came to provide the Light of the way to heaven, and imputed His righteousness to Christians, who by the power of the indwelling Spirit by His grace and love for people, we transcend the mundanity and wickedness of the world and point the way to Christ.

In living the life of a hermit, Brother Martin said he imitates Christ. “In the hermitic life one retreats from the world, much like Christ did when he went off for 40 days in the desert to pray or when he went to lonely places to pray,” he said.

Catholics see no discrepancy between the life of a hermit and the mandate to evangelize. Brother Martin mentioned above explains that a hermit’s call is to evangelize the souls of others in the form of intercessory prayer in private and in solitude-

Although Maria is discerning whether she has a call to the hermitic life, she, like Brother Martin, sticks to a strict schedule called an horarium. Some of her daily activities include prayer, daily Mass, lectio divina, meditations, study, physical exercise, household chores, and gardening. “It’s a very intensely busy life,” she said. “But it is all centered in silence and solitude, so you grow to the point where you can hear and discern God’s word.”

Catholic solitary ascetic life-styles are not just expressed in hermit-living. Anchorites and anchoresses were common in medieval times. Wikipedia explains the anchorite’s lifestyle:

Wikimedia commons

Anchorite or anchoret (female: anchoress) “one who has retired from the world”, from the verb anachōreō, signifying “to withdraw”, “to retire”) denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life. Whilst anchorites are frequently considered to be a type of religious hermit, unlike hermits they were required to take a vow of stability of place, opting instead for permanent enclosure in cells often attached to churches. Also unlike hermits, anchorites were subject to a religious rite of consecration that closely resembled the funeral rite, following which – ideologically, at least, they would be considered dead to the world, a type of living saint.

Of course, most of us are familiar with the notion of Catholic cloistered monks and nuns. In fact, the Catholic Church has codified the different forms of ‘Christian’ living, or as they call it, ‘The Consecrated life.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states

From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practising the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families. These the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved. [emphasis mine]

Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice... (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Some of the different consecrated lifestyles approved by the Catholic church are, consecrated virgins, consecrated widows, hermits, anchorites, or new forms of consecrated life not yet invented. The United States Lutheran church recognizes the hermit lifestyle, but they call those who choose to separate from the world “solitaries”.

What does the bible say?
Of course the bible does not in any way endorse separating from the world. Jesus did not pray that the Father take us out of the world, not at all.

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15). We may not leave the world until we die or are raptured. Until then, as Jesus prayed, for the sakes of those who would believe in Jesus, we remain so the world will believe God sent Jesus. (John 17:20-21)

Loner Sects have always existed, though.

Non-religions hermit Valerio Ricetti lived in a cave
in New South Wales, Australia.
The site is now on the State Heritage Register. Source

Essenes, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, were a faction group who  believed the Pharisees and Sadducees had corrupted the Temple (the Essenes were not wrong on this point) and split apart from the other two Jewish groups to live a celibate, monastic life in the desert. (They were wrong on this point, though).

GotQuestions explains who the Essenes were, The Essenes were a Jewish mystical sect somewhat resembling the Pharisees. They lived lives of ritual purity and separation. They originated about 100 B.C., and disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Essenes are not directly mentioned in Scripture, although some believe they may be referred to in Matthew 19:11, 12 and in Colossians 2:8, 18, and 23. Interest in the Essenes was renewed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were likely recorded and stored by the Essenes.

GotQuestions continues with an explanation of why John The Baptist, though thought by some to be an Essene, wasn’t. The main reason is that John lived in the desert but was at the same time a very public figure, and had disciples and followers. Solitary living apart from the world is not in view here, since it is not what Jesus wants of us.

This is because we are to interact with the world while maintaining a Kingdom perspective. After all, the lost are in the world, and it is they to whom we are called as Christ’s Ambassadors to share the Good News. (Matthew 28:16-20). Living a private and solitary life denies the Christ who told us to go into the world among men. It also denies us the opportunity to edify one another, (1 Thessalonians 5:11), to bear one another’s burdens, (Galatians 6:2), to pray together, to break bread together. (Acts 1:14). Removing one’s self from the world into a cloistered (enclosed) or solitary life also denies the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us strong and resist temptation while we are faced with daily pressures. Resisting these temptations and living a life in His glory is an important way to show His glory to the lost world.

We are to be IN the world but not of the world. (John 17:14-15). The world is ruled by satan, and whether one is in the middle of Times Square in NYC or alone in a desert cave in Australia, one is still in the domain ruled by satan. Removing one’s self only tells the world that you are relying on your own self to live a life pleasing unto God. A hermetic life, a ‘consecrated’ life; or a cloistered life, is just all about you, and not about Jesus. Sin will still get you. Read this anecdote from a sermon of John MacArthur’s:


Oscar Wilde, once told a story. It wasn’t true, he just made it up but I [think] it illustrates the point. He said:

The devil was crossing the Libyan desert and on his way across he met a whole pile of his demons who were really working hard on an old hermit. Now this hermit was a saint. He had been, you know, set aside by the church and held had taken his vows and he was a very holy hermit. And so hes out there in the middle of the Libyan desert, you know.

He said, “No” to everything in the world and he had taken his cross and he had gone to the desert.

And so, these demons were out there really trying to get him to stumble … really trying to tempt this old hermit. And they were going at it full bore. And Satan came along.

And Wilde says this: “Steadfastly, the sainted man resisted their suggestions.” They weren’t successful, they couldn’t get him to fall into sin. “Finally, after watching their failure in disgust, the Devil whispered to the demons, ‘What you’re doing is too crude, permit me one moment.’ And then the devil whispered to the holy man, ‘Your brother has just been made the bishop of Alexandria.”‘

And Wilde says: “A scowl of malignant jealousy crossed his face. ‘That,’ said the Devil, ‘is the sort of thing I recommend.”‘

Get the point? They can’t get us in some places, they’ll get us someplace else


The Dangers of the ascetic, solitary life

Living alone or within a very small group is dangerous, as well. Mysticism runs heavily through the cloistered life, as we saw from the description above of the Oregonian hermits’ daily schedule. It included contemplative prayer accompanied by Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina (“Sacred Reading”) is a mystical, Gnostic practice whereupon the seeker seeks not to understand the revealed word, and not to ponder the attributes of the God who revealed it, but to experience it in a two-way conversation with God. It is an example of a spiritually sounding exercise that is devoid of the power of God. (2 Timothy 3:5).

Most of the world’s false religions, cults, and sects were started by one or two disaffected persons usually having had received a vision. The Essenes were disaffected Jewish mystics who retired to the desert alone. Famously, Muhammad was living alone in a cave when supposedly the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and revealed the Quran.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:16)

Founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith said that when he was younger he participated in religious folk magic. One night alone upon a hillside in prayer he received the first vision that led him to found the cult of the Latter Day Saints.


“According to the account Smith told in 1838, he went to the woods to pray about which church to join but fell into the grip of an evil power that nearly overcame him. At the last moment, he was rescued by two shining “personages” (implied to be Jesus and God the Father) who hovered above him. One of the beings told Smith not to join any existing churches because all taught incorrect doctrines.”

From the article I quoted above, we read the hermit Maria saying,

“In the ’70s, I became very ill, and on many occasions, the Blessed Mother actually came to me in various ways, and brought me comfort,” said Maria.

It is well-known that ascetic and mystical practices that focus on an ascetic interior life, including Lectio Divina and Contemplative Spirituality, actually provides a fertile breeding ground for visions and apparitions. In other words, if you want to gt a vision, live like a hermit according to man-made rules, and eschew solid biblical study for personal experiences, elevate yourself and your thoughts and your life above everyone else’s by showing the world how spiritual you are and go live in a hermitage or a cloister.

Or, if you want to please Jesus, live a life of unremarkable faith, persevering in His statutes, living in the world, resisting sin,  and loving your neighbor. And that doesn’t mean the neighbor hermit in the next cave over.


Further reading:

Some famous non-religious hermits

What is New Monasticism?
Christian monasticism is based on an extreme interpretation of Jesus’ teachings on perfection (Matthew 5:48), celibacy (Matthew 19:10-12), and poverty (Matthew 19:16-22). Monks and nuns attempt to control their environment and surround themselves with like-minded devotees. Many followers of Eastern religions also practice monasticism, the Buddhist monk perhaps being the most recognizable.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary: The Essenes

Posted in kepler, music of the spheres, mysticism, pythagoras, romans 1

This is My Father’s World", Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, part 2

In part 1 of “This is My Father’s World”, Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, I looked at how Pythagoras intuitively understood the harmony and order of the natural world, and the cosmos. Pythagoras in effect discovered music theory, and within it, musical spacing, octaves, and vibrations. He extrapolated from his discovery that a similar harmony and order in the planetary cycles and orbits must exist, and named his astronomical theory Music of the Spheres.

This theory, brought to the masses by Plato, spawned a plethora of false constructs, including a sect of philosophy whose followers were called Pythagoreans, and also the philosophies of Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, and other “Mystery” philosophies which ended up worshiping the knowledge or the numbers rather than the God who created them.

However, Pythagoras’s notion that “everything vibrates” is a good one. Until 1970 when string theory was said to have been invented by Yoichiro Nambu, particle physics had no real, satisfactory explanation for they way things were. Why is there a numerical beauty behind everything? Why does the human soul respond to beauty the way it does? Why is there beauty? How did the cosmos come to be so orderly?

Christians know the answer to these questions, and all other questions, asked and unasked: God. He is the Creator of Life, the sustainer of life, and the judge of life. But others, like Pythagoras, brushed up against the truth which had been made plain to them, and rejected it so as to worship the creation —

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,g in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)

As for string theory, Pythagoras was on the right track that everything vibrates, something that waited 2000 years to be more fully explained, until 1970 when Yoichiro Nambu founded string theory.

Prior to that time, elementary particles were analyzed in some cases as points — an attribute which was clearly an approximation at best, and at worst, untenable. Even the idea that elementary particles were made up of quarks, was not wholly satisfactory, in that this concept had its own stable of problems.”

“However, a perhaps equally valid viewpoint is that “string theory” actually began with Pythagoras, whose philosophy centered about the power and harmony of numbers (e.g. the Pythagorean Theorem) and that mystical tetrakyts, or foursomes, held the secret to the universe. It is, after all, strings where we most easily encounter the harmonies.”

“Pythagoras’ theories have a lot of appeal, particularly in the manner in which the beauty of numbers correspond with the melodies and harmonies so pleasant to the ear. Eugene Wigner, a theoretical physicist has noted what he calls “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics. Again and again, abstract and beautiful mathematical relationships explored for their own aesthetic sake, are later discovered to have exact correspondence with the real world — a coincidence that is quite remarkable.” The unique relationship between mathematics and Music is but one example of this “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.” ” (source)

One of those numerical and harmonious aesthetics is seen in the orderliness of the numbers that medieval mathematician Fibonacci discovered, including the Golden Mean, the Golden Spiral, the Golden Section, and the Golden String. I’ve written about Fibonacci numbers before. Dr. Knott at the University of Surrey in the UK wrote about the relationship between the Fibonacci sequence and Pythagorean triangles.

Fibonacci spiral!

Fibonacci numbers in nature!

Creative Commons, flickr photo by Fantômette *
Wow! More Fibonacci!
Creative Commons, flickr photo by Mark Strozier

But as much as I’d love to write more about Fibonacci numbers, I must not get sidetracked, lol. You see the orderliness of nature! Pythagoras and Kepler saw the same in the universe, expressed through math. What Pythagoras was really saying, if he could say it in the 20th century, was that everything is a vibrating superstring. Continuing with Dr. Knott,

Modern Superstring theories are based on generalizing the notion of a point particle to that of a string-like object. “In an analogy to a string of piano wire, the lowest note of the string corresponds to massless or very light particles, such as the photon, graviton, or electron; the harmonics or higher modes of the string correspond to the very massive particles… ””

And of course, these strings vibrate, just as Pythagoras envisioned when he noticed the harmony in the lyre’s octaves, and in the universe’s precision of planetary orbits.

Johannes Kepler took Pythagoras’s theories and extended them much further.

Born in 1571, Johannes Kepler was a precocious and brilliant (if sickly) boy plucked from the mire of his impoverished circumstances and given a first-rate education. He discovered, among other things, the three laws of planetary motion. His constant accuracy in his experiments and maths did much to establish the truth of heliocentric astronomy, which was the theory that that planets move around the Sun rather than the Earth. Pythagoras thought the opposite.

Wikipedia sums up Kepler’s cherished work, begun in 1599, a tome called “Harmony of the World“, (Harmonices Mundi).

While medieval philosophers spoke metaphorically of the “music of the spheres”, Kepler discovered physical harmonies in planetary motion. He found that the difference between the maximum and minimum angular speeds of a planet in its orbit approximates a harmonic proportion. For instance, the maximum angular speed of the Earth as measured from the Sun varies by a semitone (a ratio of 16:15), from mi to fa, between aphelion and perihelion.

Kepler discovers that all but one of the ratios of the maximum and minimum speeds of planets on neighboring orbits approximate musical harmonies within a margin of error of less than a diesis (a 25:24 interval). The orbits of Mars and Jupiter produce the one exception to this rule, creating the unharmonic ratio of 18:19. In fact, the cause of Kepler’s dissonance might be explained by the fact that the asteroid belt separates those two planetary orbits, as discovered in 1801, 150 years after Kepler’s death.”

Pretty neat. Kepler definitely had a brain in his head.

Cut to today and we see that the physicists are still attempting to explain the harmony of the movements of the celestial bodies.

According to physicist Brian Greene, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos (2004) and considered one of the founders of string theory: “According to superstring theory, every particle is composed of a tiny filament of energy…which is shaped like a little string. And just as a violin string can vibrate in different patterns, each of which produces different musical tone, the filaments of superstring theory can also vibrate in different patterns.” (source)

Not unlike from Pythagoras’s universe being a giant lyre-like instrument, vibrating heavenly harmonics, is it? Nowadays with the ability to translate astronomical data into sound (sonification) we can listen to the music of the spheres that Pythagoras said was inaudible.

Here is a sonification of the transits of the remarkable Kepler 11 planetary system. It is developed by Alex Harrison Parker of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He explains his sonification, here

You can go to the Kepler/NASA sonification page and listen to more. They’re cool!

Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. This includes all the science modern man has extracted from his engagement with the world (or the cosmos). Pythagoras, Kepler, Greene…no matter what the century, God has already made it plain to them, as the verse in Romans 1:18-20 says.

As man advances in technology, we can refine what God has made plain to us, such as with a Kepler telescope. But in the old bible are the ‘new’ scientific facts that the earth is a sphere, the universe is expanding, the number of stars exceeds a billion, the second law of thermodynamics indicating the universe will wear out, that the earth is suspended in space, and so on. Any person in the Spirit who reads the bible will have these facts illuminated to him, and it has been so since God revealed them.

Pythagoras’s discovery isn’t new, neither are Kepler’s or Nambu’s or Greene’s. They aren’t new because God told us and made it plain, but when man discovers these things apart from God, it makes all the eternal difference. More on that in the final part three.

Part 1 
Part 3

Posted in contemplative prayer, meditating, mysticism

Are we there yet? I contemplatively prayed all day and all I got is bupkis

The unregenerated man looks within, and finds nothing. There is no inner peace, no ritual, philosophy, no lofty argument that will ever bring it.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8).

That is how deception works. It’s the blending of empty philosophies with what we are already familiar with. It packages poison in a pretty package with a bow. Satan wants to make his poison attractive, so when you read about “contemplative prayer” it puts together two good words to make a poison result. Many people think that ‘contempative prayer’ means contemplating God via prayer. It does not.

Words like Vision casting, missional, emergent, centering prayer, gifting, unity, spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines and tolerance are just a few words that the dark side has co-opted, injected with poison, and launched aloft via milkweed seeds to waft into unwary churches with no screens on their windows.

For example, centering prayer sounds good. Here is the definition of what it is and how to do it.

“Centering prayer is popping up within the emerging church movement. Centering prayer, also known as contemplative prayer and listening prayer, is the practice of relaxing, emptying the mind, and letting one’s self find the presence of God within. It involves silence, stillness, patience, sometimes repeating something, and the practice of “not knowing” as the person seeks God’s presence.” (source).

So what’s wrong with seeking God’s presence? Relaxing? Because meditating, or contemplating God, does not involve emptying the mind and allowing a whatever presence to enter. That is just asking for trouble, it being so occultish. Meditating on God’s word means actively contemplating Him, via bible verses. (Psalm 63:6, “When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches.” Psalm 119:15,23,27,48,97, same source as above.). It means thinking. Not emptying. You see how contemplative prayer is the opposite of what the bible says to do? The term does not mean what you think it means.

A Christian does not need to be still and know He is God, we do not need to empty the mind in order to find Him. THIS is what “be still” means in the context of the Psalm 46:10,

“”be still”; not that they should be like sticks and stones, stupid, indolent, and unconcerned at the commotions that were in the earth, and be unaffected with the judgments of God, and be wholly silent and inactive; but that they should not be fearful, nor fretful and impatient, or restless and tumultuous; but be quiet and easy, resigned to the will of God, and live in an assured expectation of the appearance of divine Providence in their layout.”  (Gill’s Exposition).

It means your mind is calm because you have contemplated God, His statutes, and you rest easy knowing He is in control.

If you are asking “are we there yet” because you’ve gotten involved in the trap of stilling the mind in expectation of a presence to endow you with information, peace, or any other emotion, it is because you will never ‘get there’ that way. Any Christian knows the ‘are we there yet” question is moot: when we hear the trumpet, we’ll be there in an instant. Everything else until the trumpet sounds or we stop drawing breath is a slog through lively, active, mental contemplation of Him. In other words, STUDY!