A fast-moving contemplative movement of Christian Centering Prayer is quietly, almost secretly reviving,
"... religious life and faith in society. Here in the land of “the spiritual, but not religious,” and growing numbers of “Nones,” or non-church affiliated, a new form of evangelization is appearing. Centering Prayer is a practice of silent prayer that is a stripped-to-essentials form of Christian monastic contemplation." (Centering Prayer: Contemplative practice for the 21st century, Sidney Callahan, American Magazine, Dec 3 2014 )
In what appears to be a sweeping phenomenon, Christian leaders are embracing practices and a new spirituality that "borrows from Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy." The changes are taking place worldwide and involve "many of the most popular evangelical leaders including Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, and Eugene Peterson." (Evangelical Leaders Promote New Age and Eastern Spiritual Practice, Lighthouse Trails)
Ruth Haley Barton, formerly of Willow Creek and trained at the contemplative Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation teaches contemplative prayer through her Transforming Center:
"Barton co-authored with John Ortberg 'Ordinary Day with Jesus,' which clearly instructs readers in mystical prayer practices." And as if that were not enough to show Ortberg's New Age Sympathies, "he will be speaking this year at the National Pastor's Convention where labyrinths, contemplative prayer...and yoga workshops will take place." (ibid)
Moreover, Sue Monk Kidd, once a conservative Baptist,
"began practicing contemplative prayer and has now become a major promoter of the practice and of feminine spirituality." (ibid)
While standing onstage with other keynote speakers at the Passion 2012 conference Beth Moore encouraged the audience to:
"... pause and be still, and ask Jesus to speak His word to us." Attended by over 42,000 college age youth, "Francis Chan, Louie Giglio and John Piper, along with thousands of youth (participated) in the mystical practice of contemplative or 'listening prayer' at Moore's behest, and this despite the fact that Scripture provides no instruction or any illustration for engaging in such a 'spiritual' activity." (Be Still: Contemplative or Listening Prayer & Psalm 46:10, Herescope, Sept. 23, 2012)
Energizing the enthusiastic endorsement of "new" contemplative prayer is a spirit of naivety that simply endorses without discernment and unwisely propagates this practice.
So just what is contemplative prayer?
Contemplative Prayer: Traditional & New Age Version
The contemplative tradition originated with some of the early desert Fathers. Over the centuries it has been variously called Lectio Divina, the Prayer of Faith, Prayer of the Heart, Prayer of Simplicity, Prayer of Simple Regard, Active Recollection, Active Quiet and Acquired Contemplation.
St. Teresa defines Christian contemplative prayer as:
".....nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.' Contemplative prayer seeks him 'whom my soul loves'. It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The New Age contemplative or centering prayer is a hybrid drawn from prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage fused with Eastern mysticism. The hybrid version,
"...originated in St Joseph's Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961-1981) when Keating was abbot, St Joseph's held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks. ....Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a "mantra," a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one's will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion." (The Danger of Centering Prayer, Rev. John D. Dreher, Catholic Education Resource Center)
Cistercian priest Thomas Keating, who has inspired many Christian leaders including Brennan Manning and Quaker mystic Richard Foster who favorably quotes the heavily demonized Carl Jung in the second chapter of his book, "Celebration of Discipline," is known as a 'living Spiritual Teacher' or Master of the 'new' contemplative prayer. Terms like 'spiritual master' actually come straight out of Eastern mysticism and are tantamount to 'guru.'
In the foreword to Philip St. Romain's book, "Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality," Keating even acknowledges that kundalini energy (aka, Zoe, seething power of Lucifer, the Force, serpent power) is the focus of the "new" Christian contemplative prayer. He states:
"Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey ... Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition ... the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer ... contemplation are the essential disciplines.." (Kundalini Energy (Serpent Power) Same as Contemplative Silence, lighthousetrailsresearch)
What is Kundalini Shakti (Energy)?
Kundalini is a concentrated,
".... field of intelligent cosmic, invisible energy absolutely vital to life beginning in the base of the spine as a man or a woman begins to evolve in their first incarnation." (The Donning International Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary, p. 343)
It is a serpent goddess,
"....who lies asleep at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times around the first chakra." (snakespirit.webs.com)
Kundalini is based on the occultic chakra system which teaches that a universal evolutionary energy (Kundalini Shakti, the Supreme Power; serpent power) coiled at the base of the spine flows through human beings and through all of creation, uniting everything above and everything below, thus acknowledging divinity in all things and all people. Through strenuous yoga and other occult techniques outlined in ancient and modern texts, Kundalini Shakti uncoils and rises through seven "chakras" or power centers within the human body, thus Keating explains that spiritual directors are needed to help guide the Christian contemplative because of the powerful and dangerous nature of kundalini. He adds that "spiritual directors" may need to consult with "Eastern teachers in order to get a fuller understanding" because the awakening of kundalini causes the following symptoms:
1.Burning hot or ice cold streams moving up the spine.
2.Pains in varying locations throughout the body.
3. Vibrations, unease, or cramps in legs and other parts of body.
4.Fast pulse and increased metabolism.
5.Disturbance in the breathing–and/or heart function.
6. Sensitivity to sound, light, smell, and proximity of other people.
9. Parapsychological abilities.
10. Persistent anxiety or anxiety attacks, confusion
11. Insomnia, manic high spirits or deep depression. Energy loss.
12. Impaired concentration and memory.
13. Total isolation due to inability to communicate inner experiences out.
14. Experiences of possession and poltergeist phenomena
The Kundalini/Masonry connection is revealed by occultist Mason Manly Hall who says that when the Mason learns how to properly channel the power of the serpent he has learned the mystery of his Craft:
"The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy." (New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret Societies, William T. Still, p. 30)
With continued practice, surrender, and preparation, one day the kundalini current will reach full voltage and there will no longer be 'anybody home' but an unholy spirit residing in an empty shell of a body:
"The moment of power transfer had come....Muktananda (adept of Nityananda) was about to make the timeless journey....of the power yogi (the Siddha), but it required the catalytic power of the master guru, Nityananda...who was God to Muktananda, therefore worthy of worship as the supreme Deity. The voyage of consciousness, prized by the ancients, would split Muktananda into fragments...Sometimes (his) body would writhe and twist like a snake's while a hissing sound would come from inside (him)." Finally it happened---Explosion, the point of no return where Muktananda "as an individual would be obliterated. Superconscious states would take control of him, and his consciousness would be kicked out to more and more remote levels." "In place of the former person was the walking void, the Unself, the hollow shell filled with the soul of the universe..." (Riders of the Cosmic Circuit, Tal Brooke, pp. 36-45)
"You will be like God," Genesis 3:5
In common with Carl Jung's transpersonal and depth psychology, occult New Age, Mind Science, New Thought, the Alpha Course, Silva Method, Word of Faith, Positive Imaging, Visualization/Dreaming, tantric and other forms of yoga and the multi-million dollar best-sellers "A Course in Miracles" and "The Secret," the new contemplative prayer shares the idea that god and psychic power are within:
"People go through their whole lives chasing everything in the material world, and they fail to discover the greatest treasure of all, which is within them. Shut your eyes to the outside world. Direct your thoughts and words inside of you. The Master within you is the key to all the treasures in the world." (Rhonda Byrne, "The Secret Daily Teachings")
As the 'Christ' of the hugely popular "A Course in Miracles" the christ-within states that there is an "irresistible Force" within each person, a universal Force that when activated grants unimaginable psychic powers, even immortality. The 'Christ' tells New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard that on the day of Planetary Pentecost a Planetary Smile will flash across the faces of all people who have accepted the Luciferian Initiation. There will be "uncontrollable joy" that the 'Christ' describes as the "joy of Force" that will "ripple" through the one body of humanity. ("False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? Warren B. Smith, p. 120)
"Since the unconscious is God all along, we may further define the goal of spiritual growth to be the attainment of godhood by the conscious self." (A Different Drum, M. Scott Peck)
"....all is mind and...everything is governed by law (thus man) can create, or have created for him from his own thinking. He can create such a strong mental atmosphere of success that its power of attraction will be irresistible. He can send his thoughts throughout the world and have it bring back to him whatever he wants." (Creative Mind and Success, Ernest Holmes, New Thought practitioner)
"Your unconscious mind (has a) power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough." ("Positive Imaging," Norman Vincent Peale, 1982, p. 77)
Word Faith teacher Kenneth Copeland tells people to visualize any image,
"...that you get down inside you that is so vivid when you close your eyes you see it, it'll come to pass. When God came at the Tower of Babel, He said, 'Anything they can imagine, they can do." (Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2, Copeland)
Yonggi Cho similarly teaches that through visualizing and dreaming you will,
"....incubate that which we want God to do for us....If you have not visualized clearly in your heart exactly what you hope for, it cannot become a reality to you..." (The Fourth Dimension, Vol. 1, Yonggi Cho, 1979, 9-35, vol. 2, 18-33).
"But in his estate shall (Antichrist) honor the God of forces." Dan. 11:38
The god-force within who is the serpent power (horned god) worshipped by mankind from antiquity, Masonry's seething energies of Lucifer, the serpent power of Kundalini yoga, the Christ of the Course in Miracles, the Cosmic Spirit of the universe, Teilhard's Singularity and the Collective that represents self-generation and evolution through its own creative power poses a question to his enthralled worshippers,
"What if I am not a 'man' at all, but rather a Force, an 'Energy" in the universe, that IS the universe, and that is, in fact, All That Is. What if I am The Collective?" ("God" in Conversations with God: Book 3, p. 125, Neale Donald Walsh, ibid Warren B. Smith, p. 122
Eastern-oriented New Age contemplative/centering prayer is actually a dangerous occult psycho-spiritual technique that really does work:
"Using these techniques I have seen lights move in darkness, a bright yellow cross materialize out of thin air, and I've heard voices calling me from the darkness. I'm not exaggerating. I was not on drugs, medicated, drinking, or sleep deprived. I definitely contacted something in the spirit realm. But, it wasn't God." (Centering Prayer, Matt Slick, CARM)
Just as Slick had opened himself to contact with an evil spirit, so did a little girl:
"A mother wrote to ask me for advice: In the Catholic school in (name of town), Sister has been using this (centering prayer and use of the Jesus Prayer) in the religion classes. My ten-year-old daughter took to it right away. This was about two-and-a-half years ago. The things she shared with me that Jesus had told her didn't appear to me to be imagination.....About six weeks ago, Kristy started having difficulty going to sleep. She didn't want to stay in her own room and would lie there afraid to close her eyes, until I would let her go into her sister's room and sleep with her. Finally she confided in me that she would see something scary if she closed her eyes. A few days ago, she confided that it laughed. Kristy had used the centering prayer on her own at bedtime for sometime before this fear started." (The Danger of Centering Prayer, Rev. John D. Dreher, Catholic Education Resource Center)
Rev. Dreher concluded:
"The laughter is very characteristic of evil spirits. It would have taken personal contact and prayerful discernment to know for sure. From the description, I would suspect an evil spirit is harassing her. I would doubt that it has any serious hold on her, unless there was immoral behavior or a special vulnerability in her psychological state. I suspect that her use of centering prayer opened her to evil spirits and such harassments."
Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers for the New Age warns Christians away from 'new' contemplative prayer and advises them to be wary of any instruction that calls for them to:
1.Breathe a certain way before or during prayer
2.Maintain a certain posture or bodily position
3.Repeat a word or phrase, even if it's from the Bible, or use a word or phrase to stay "focused"
4.Go beyond thinking or thought
5.To turn inward in order to find or be with God
6.Be in silence in order to truly pray
7.Believe that CP is true prayer
Christian prayer should be taught as it is modeled in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, such as Matthew 6:9:
“Having now rebuked and condemned such false and meaningless prayer, Christ goes on to prescribe a short, neat form of His own to show us how we are to pray, and what we are to pray for,” Luther.