Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer?

I have been disturbed for quite a long time about the contemplative practices which have so poisoned our universities and now are also filtering into so many Nazarene churches (and most all other denominations as well).  Our last post highlighted the problems at Point Loma Nazarene University, including the ridiculous fining of at least one student who refused to attend chapel services which promoted this unbiblical practice. Experience, experience, experience… that seems to be the focus of the contemplatives, instead of “God’s Word.. what does it say to us”?

The article below by Pastor Ken Silva at apprising.org continues the focus on these issues, with commentary on one of the most commonly used excuses to justify contemplative or centering prayer, and that is Psalm 46:10.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. ”Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Psalm 46:1-11, NASB)

Be Still And You’ll Know You’re Being Mislead

The heart of this short article from Apprising Ministries is to bring to your attention that it’s quite common for those who are teachers of the corrupt Contemplative/Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) of so-called Spiritual Formation (SF) to appeal to verse 10 of the above Psalm 46 in an attempt to justify their unbiblical practice of Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which is a type of transcendental meditation for the “Christian.” For example you’ll definitely see this in this teaching of Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster as well as that of his spiritual twin ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard.

Perhaps the best recent example would be the DVD Be Still And Know, which was an veritable ode to CCP. The “Bible Study Guide” that comes with it informs us:

Be Still is an interactive film that provides a contemplative look at the history, importance and power of prayer from a cross-denominational point of view… demonstrat[ing] contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives… featur[ing] some of today’s most highly respected Christian authors, educators, speakers and ministers including Dr. Henry Cloud, Richard Foster, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shriver and Dallas Willard. (1)

Sure enough on page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” we’re told that, “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And the first verse used to support their contention that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for CCP meditation is Psalm 46:10. In Prayer: Finding The Heart’s True Home the aforementioned Richard Foster writes:

So many passages of Scripture provide a touchstone for Meditative Prayer: “Be still and know that I am God”; “Abide in my love”; “I am the Good Shepherd”; “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (149)

And then we have Ruth Haley Barton, a spiritual director, teacher ,and retreat leader trained through The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. Co-Founder & President of The Transforming Center Barton has also been a featured speaker and teacher at Zondervan’s National Pastors Conference for the past couple of years heading up their Pastor’s Retreats. Her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, which by the way you can purchase right from Lifeway Christian Stores of the “Protestant” Southern Baptist Convention, has a foreword from Dallas Willard and an endorsement from Tilden Edwards who heads the interspiritual Shalem Institute.

In her chapter ”Beyond Words” where she describes her “journey” (I’m coming to hate that word) into the “silence and solitude” of CCP Barton opens with a quote from apostate Roman Catholic monk Richard Rohr and explains that “help came from a spiritual director” whom Barton met when she “sought her out for therapy.” Barton then tells us that:

this wise woman said to me, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sentiment can settle and the water can become clear”… well, that image called to me with the hope of peace, clarity and a deeper level of certainty in God than I had ever known. In the desire [which] this image stirred up, I recognized an invitation to be still and know beyond my addiction  to noise, words, people and performance-oriented activity. (29, 30)

What Is The Lord Telling Us When He Tells Us Be Still And Know He’s God?

All of this sure sounds pleasing and it most certainly is the prevailing postevangelical view of Psalm 46:10 — Be still, and know that I am God (NIV). The huge problem for the growing band of evangelical CSM supporters in the Emerging rebellion against Sola Scriptura is that this verse has nothing at all to do with the subject of prayer as the context should make clear. Taken in the context of this Psalm, an exclaimation of praise for the glorious absolute sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty, we have a reminder that those who belong to Him should “cease striving”; stop worrying, “be still,” rest quietly, in any kind of situation because the LORD is your God.

Yet how odd that postevangelical and Emergent Church contemplatives content to embrace mystery ala Rob Bell will tell me that I can’t know for sure verse 10 really means what I just told you it does. However, in a perfect demonstration of double-mindedness these same wannabe Christian mystics are then certain that they know this verse is in fact teaching their spurious spirituality. Even so the fact remains that these neo-Gnostics with their supposedly superior understanding of the “real” meaning of Scripture, which out of the other side of their mouths they tell us can’t be clearly understood, have wrested this verse out of its context.

As to a proper view of Psalm 46:10 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series Dr. Willem A. VanGemeren is right when he points out that:

the psalmist encourages the godly to “know” that the Lord is God. Though it was tempting to ally themselves with foreign powers, to rely on military strength, or to give themselves over to idolatry and pagan ways, the godly must learn to persevere to the end. The exhortation “be still” calls on them to stop doing one thing in favor of something else. What their temptation was may be implied from v.2: “Therefore we will not fear.”

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, severe national distress brought the temptation to abandon true religion for the ephemeral security of political alliances, military strength, and worldly paganism (Realpolitik). Instead of choosing a negative option, the people of God distinguish themselves by the pursuit of godliness: “Know that I am God.” The “knowledge” of God includes a factual knowledge about him, his past acts, and his promises. But in this context the psalmist calls on them to commit themselves to the Lord and to seek his “refuge,” “strength,” and “fortress” (vv.1, 7, 11). (Psalm 46, CD Rom)

Then in his own classic The Treasury of David Charles Spurgeon quotes Jonathan Edwards as teaching the following concerning Psalm 46:10 :

Verse 10. Be still, and know that I am God. The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed,

A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them; not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or justifying ourselves and speaking great swelling words of vanity. We must be still as to actions and outward behaviour, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be. (Online source)

Next pastor Larry DeBruyn will now give us a good working knowledge of the Hebrew which underlies the English ”Cease striving”, “Be still”:

“Be still” (Hebrew, rapah) is used 46 times in the Old Testament with meanings everywhere from describing laziness to ordering relaxation. Though the majority of versions translate the injunction “Be still”, other meanings are “Cease striving (NASB), “Be quiet” (NCV), “Desist” (Young’s), or “Calm down” (CEV). In no biblical usage or context does the Hebrew verb enjoin God’s people to meditate or contemplate. Rather, believers are to rest and trust in God. (Online source, emphasis his)

And in closing, if you are someone who has found themselves attracted to these seducing spirits and their doctrines of demons in CSM and CCP I will now leave you to contemplate the following sound advice and stern warning from pastor Bob DeWaay in his article Contemporary Christian Divination: The False Claims and Practices of Christian Mystics:

I have debated people about these techniques many times. They often say, “God can do anything and use anything, you are tying to put God in a box.” You probably have heard that argument. When I was doing my research on divination for the previous issue of CIC, I thought about the “putting God in a box” accusation. The Biblical record shows that it is God who purposely limits the ways we can come to Him. If there is a “box” God made it. I think a better analogy than a box, is a sheepfold. It is a Biblical analogy.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). The true sheep enter the sheepfold through the door, Jesus Christ (John 10:7). He as the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He protects His sheep from the wolves, gives them pasture, and abundant life (John 10:10-15). Being in the sheepfold may seem restrictive compared to the adventures of exploring the bigger world out there unencumbered by the guidance of the Shepherd. However the restrictions are there to save our spiritual lives.

The restrictions God places on how and by what means we may legitimately come to Him and receive spiritual truth are for our own good. The spirit world that Christian mystics like Morton Kelsey want to explore is far more complex than even Jung and Kelsey give it credit for being. The dangers of deception are far more real. In fact, if we journey into the world of the spirits by means other that what God has ordained, we will be deceived, not may be deceived. The spirits who inhabit that world have been there for many thousands of years practicing the art of deception. They willingly give people whatever experience they would tend to think is from God. Jose Silva, who is Catholic, when he went into his alpha level to gain guides received Jesus and Mary. The spirits will give you what you would expect is from God in your own context. They will provide any experience that serves their deceptive purposes, including sending a spiritual “Jesus” (see 2Corinthians 11:4). The prohibitions on divination are there to protect us from these malicious entities.

So we are not putting God in a box, God is putting us in a sheepfold if we are willing to be there. The practices of “thinking outside the box” that are so popular today are fatal when it comes to spirituality. God has not left access to spiritual truth in the hands of innovative thinkers who like pioneers blaze new trails. God has given access to Himself, once for all, through Jesus Christ who is our heavenly High Priest. The truth is revealed once for all in the Scriptures. (Online source, emphasis his)

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12 responses to “Does Psalm 46:10 Teach Contemplative/Centering Prayer?

  1. Here is one of many beautiful letters from clergy who enjoy Transcendental Meditation: “I have been a Catholic Sister for twenty-two years and have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for fourteen years. I have found this technique to be very beneficial in different aspects of my life. It has helped calm and focus my mind during times of stress as well as in everyday life. I have also noticed physiological effects such as less muscle tension, more relaxed breathing and just overall greater awareness. In addition, there have been many scientific studies to support the benefits of Transcendental Meditation.
    Since Transcendental Meditation is not a religion nor is it taught as a doctrine, it does not interfere or conflict with my Catholic Christian faith. In my years of practicing this technique I believe it has enhanced my prayer and Christian life.”
    Sister Carol Wirtz; Anthony, New Mexico

  2. This Catholic Sister is misled. She is practicing unbiblical practices, and rather than focusing on what the scriptures say and praying directly to God, she is delving into dangerous territory.

    Biblical meditation is not at all like transcendental meditation, in which the objective is to empty the mind of all rational thought and so allow it to dwell on whatever ideas just happen to enter it. (from Confidence in the Word http://www.citw.org.uk/meditation.htm)

    Christians need to stay away from TM and focus on true meditation on the Word of God, which involves actively reading and thinking on the meaning of God’s Word.

  3. I attend a Baptist church but used to lead music in a Nazarene church years ago. I’d heard some of the Nazarene universities were promoting contemplative/centering prayer. It made me ill.

    Centering/contemplative prayer is New Age, as this author noted. It is synonymous with TM which has its roots in Hinduism & Buddism and is occult.
    So people practicing this Centering or Contemplative “prayer” are actually taking part in practicing occult.

    I have a son who went off to a cult in Kansas City and since he’s gotten so DEEP into this occult practice has broken off all communication with his family.

    Our Lord Jesus is so very close to returning. He said there would be a “great falling away” prior to His return. Well WHO would have thought Jesus-Loving-Christians would EVER reach a point where they’d be happily practicing transcendental meditation???

    End of discussion.

  4. It all seems a bit Pharisaical to me. If someone decides to worship God through contemplative prayer, who are YOU to say they cannot? If some should decide to worship God by caring for their body (the temple) through yoga, who are YOU to say they cannot?

    It has nothing to do with being a concerned Nazarene or not. You can share scripture all you want. Anyone can take a passage and make it their own translation. Nazarenes along with many others have been doing that for years.

    The cancer within the church is the harsh judgment and condemnation that cause people to turn from the church. Maybe it’s time folks began caring about hurting people rather than bickering over who interprets the scripture correctly or make the best doctrine. This will kill the church.

    I’m a third generation Nazarene and plan on raising my family in the Nazarene church. All my life I’ve witnessed “sanctified holy” folks to be some of the most cruel, judgmental, hypocritical, and condemning folks I’ve ever met.

    If someone comes to know God and his mercy and forgiveness through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ BECAUSE OF Rob Bell or Brian McLaren or anyone else named… then it shows God can use anyone and any situation for His glory.

    To compare those who practice contemplative prayer with members of an occult is pretty bold. Or those who practice yoga as practicing some type of mysticism… I think I’d use caution.

    Last I checked, my relationship with Jesus is just that: a relationship between Jesus and me. If Jesus meets me during yoga or contemplative prayer as I am FOCUSED ONLY ON HIM, then I feel pretty blessed to have met with my Savior!

  5. Sadly, Melissa, you seem to be unaware of the scriptures that warn against using practices from pagan religions to worship. We should not do it, because we are commanded to not do it. Read the scriptures! Brian McLaren translates John 3:16 to mean that Jesus came to save “planet earth”. Do you agree with “his translation?”

    Paul warns us to keep the best doctrine… to keep the gospel once given for all. I guess if you read Galatians, you may not like it too much. He is very harsh in this book, and rightly so, as sometimes it is necessary. We are warned time and time again to beware of false prophets, and me and many others are heeding that warning. You are in great spiritual danger if you think we can worship God and pray to Him in any way you want to. Is that what you are saying?
    Yoga is derived from another religion! We are forbidden to incorporate practices from other religions! Don’t you understand that? Jesus is not going to meet you while you are using unbiblical worship practices or prayer methods! That is just not so, and I fear that you will put yourself in danger if you truly believe that.

    If someone decides to stand on their head for two hours and pray daily, and recommends it as a good Christian practice, by what authority can they say that is a good practice? You MUST look to scripture for all that you do as a Christian, and if it does not line up with scripture, please…. Throw it out!

    Look at the heresy that is being taught by Brain McLaren, in his very own words! This man should not be near a Nazarene campus, and you say that listening to him will help someone come to Jesus? Most likely, it may not be the real Jesus.

    As far as being judgmental, we are called to judge… but judge righteously. How can we know who are the false teachers, unless we judge? That is not possible. We judge all the time. We are commanded to judge, byt both Jesus and the apostles, countless times!

    Melissa, I don’t mean to be harsh, but I believe you need to get a little more into the scriptures and develop some discernment, because I fear that the wolves may come in unknowingly, and you are in danger of being deceived in a very deadly way, sister.

  6. Melissa, you said, “It all seems a bit Pharisaical to me. If someone decides to worship God through contemplative prayer, who are YOU to say they cannot?”
    Where you’re missing ‘it’ is that in their practicing Contemplative Prayer, it is not God that they’re worshiping. They’re connecting with a false jesus.

    Dr. Keith DeBoer (1st comment up above) is right on target with calling this Transcendental Meditation. He’s totally OFF, however, in stating it’s not tied into a religion. TM has its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is very much a religion. And Melissa, you can be a 20th generation Nazarene for all I care. You need to drop the “Nazarene badge” and open your Bible and allow God to show you His truth. Put on a “Believer’s” badge instead.
    You think we’re being harsh and judgemental. Nope. You’re listening to the sound of Bereans on the Wall, dear. Watchmen. Watchmen sounding the alarm.

    One other thing: you said when you’re doing Contemplative you’re FOCUSED on JESUS. Wrong again, kid. In order to even perform Contemplative Prayer, you’ve got to completely empty your mind of everything. 20 min or so of repeating a word/phrase over and over and over – and get that breathing just right.. and dispell all thoughts – make them go. Then enter that place of ‘silence’…

    Right. And how was it that Jesus told his disciples to pray? After “what” are we to model our prayers?

    Melissa, I’m going to be praying God will remove the blinders from your eyes. You need to get away from the “has to feel good to be of God” mode of thinking and try walking by faith, not by sight.

    SP

  7. The evidence reveals that the results of this type of meditation are the same whether one has accepted Christ or thoroughly rejected Him. Why? Because it is a work of the soul and not the Spirit of God. All “spiritist” practice this form of meditation from Wiccans to Satanist to “Christians” and all EXPERIENCE the same types of FEELINGS.

    Listen to Benjamin Creme, student of Alice Bailey and Helena Blavatsky, and promoter of the coming “world teacher” the Maitreya:

    “Meditation provides a more-or-less scientific means, depending on the meditation, of contacting the soul and gradually becoming at-one with the soul, so that it can manifest clearly and potently on the physical plane.”

    “Through meditation, one draws on the energies and inspiration of the soul which give life and meaning to the personality expression.”

    “Meditation remains the royal way to contact with the soul …”

    In fact, the true future preparatory schools of meditation, which the Morya Federation and affiliated schools seek to anticipate, will be fundamentally for those students who are treading the Path of Probationary Initiation (the first degree, emphasis mine) (and later, when the advanced schools are truly established, the Path of Initiation itself—the Path leading to the third degree).

    In fact, it is this type of meditation that is the first point of contact in preparation for INITIATION into the MYSTERIES by “the Ascended Masters” promoted by Creme, Bailey, Blavatsky, and a host of other New Age Teachers, all of which have rejected the BLOOD of Christ as necessary for salvation. The serpent (Lucifer, the “light-bearer”) is the one who made their sacrifice according to their own words.

    It is through this type of meditation that the “ascended masters” are “sending down energies” into those who are seeking contact with the soul which will lead to their overshadowing. Alice Bailey described it as a form of mental telepathy of which Dr. Robert A. Herrmann, a former occultist and mathematical modeler, describes as beginning with subliminal perception and advancing through various mind-altering procedures.

    All of these, as Mr. Creme has confessed, and Dr. Herrmann confirms, are scientific procedures – they are not spiritual, but carnal, of the natural soul of the man. That is why they work for any and all who use them from the most degenerate blasphemer to the most “holy saint.”

    There is a plan and meditation is part of the plan:

    Dr. Herrmann continues, “Since overshadowing as described is a form of telepathy (mind altering procedure, emphasis mine), how can one acquire Bailey’s telepathy? In her book, apparently published after her death, Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle (6), she states on page 10, that strong personal desires, emotions and the desire to succeed will not lead to success. The only way to success is to concentrate upon the source, vehicle or medium that controls telepathic communication. One learns about this source through a special type of meditation. “All who seek to tread the Path of Discipleship are endeavoring to live in the head center [mind], and – through meditation – to bring in the power of the soul.” (6, p. 11). Bailey discusses on page 71 of reference (6) what one must do in order to be truly a complete (telepathic) part of the “Plan” and that is to be in contact with the Universal Mind.” (http://www.serve.com/herrmann/psychic.htm)

    So, there you have it. The path of the New Age disciple is one who through meditation is “endeavoring to live in the mind and power of the soul.” The manifestations are brought about by physical, scientific processes of mind alteration.

    While the Christian may benefit physically and the soul may be exalted, this form of meditation has NOTHING to do with biblical spiritual growth. The danger is that just as divination opens one up to being deceived by spirits, so too does this form of meditation. Besides, is the exaltation of and communication with the soul (the natural self) the goal of spiritual growth in Christ? Of course not, unless you are seeking the cosmic Christ (the Christ of the mind) instead of the Christ of eternity who shed His blood that you may live.

  8. I listen to believers in Christ, honest lovers of Jesus talking about how absolutely wonderful Contemplative prayer makes them feel… and I find myself wondering, “How can they be so blind?”

    But you nailed it, Bryant. “While the Christian may benefit physically and the SOUL may be EXALTED, this form of meditation has (absolutely) NOTHING to do with BIBLICAL spiritual growth. The (BIG) danger is that just as divination opens one up to being deceived by (familiar) spirits, so does this form of meditation.”

    The Christian practicing Contemplative has been totally deceived – believing that what they’re actually practicing is, in fact, scriptural because of what someone has taught or written about it. And that particular teacher/speaker/writer taken a tiny little part out of scripture and said, “THIS is scriptural backing for the practice of Contemplative Prayer!”
    But nothing could be farther from the truth.

    A lot of people practicing Contemplative need to go back and read Matt. 7:21-23.

    And don’t you know that Satan’s getting quite a laugh out of watching “good Christians” worshiping him without even realizing it. Matt. 7:21-23

    SP

  9. reformednazarene,

    I think that you need to look at the scriptures. You have the Law part down cold. However can you actually make the claim you follow all of it? That you never sin? that your judgment against Melissa is well founded and you have witnesses?

    I think you need to look at scriptures. Especially Matthew 23:23 (NIV).

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

    I think the key here is Mercy.

  10. I think the key here again, will all due respect, is to follow the scriptures.

    I never claimed I follow all the law as you say-however, I do TRY to follow all of God’s law.
    I never claimed that I never sin either. I am with God’s grace slowly conforming every day to His image and not letting sin become my master.

    My judgment is not against Melissa- my judgment is against what she claims she is doing is biblically okay.

    Neo, are you defending “Christian” yoga and comtemplative prayer practices which are derived from pagan and eastern religions?

    I think you need to look at this verse here in regards to these practices:

    Galatians 1:6-10 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

    And don’t forget, we are called to judge- but judge righteously- right from the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

    We need to practice justice, mercy and faithfulness- AND – expose false teachings such as contemplative prayer, “Christian” yoga, repetitive rituals such as lectio divina and use of prayer labyrinths. We can do both.

    Blessings,

    Manny

  11. Contemplative prayer promoters say, “Well! You’re supposed to meditate on God’s word!” To which I say – yes – that’s right.
    But when you practice CP, you’re not meditating ON God’s word, no, no. You’re using God’s word to meditate.
    CP can’t be accomplished if your mind is actively concentrating on any one thing. You HAVE to go into a complete and utter mental void. Nothingness. You must repeat the word or phrase over and over for sometimes up to 20 min. Then you must make your mind go into a complete VOID. When you’ve entered that complete and utter place of silence, the void, the “in between” place, you’ll hear god, feel god, smell god, touch god…
    Trouble is…when you’re hearing, smelling, touching and feeling god, you’re in contact with the wrong god. Not God our heavenly Father, but a phony Jesus. A fake.

    I’ve lost a family member to this occult practice that so many Christians are buying into. It is occult. Try it if you want, but you are playing with fire. Big time.

  12. Neo,
    It’s not a question of “going by the laws”. You must think CP is right up there with any other sin. The big difference between CP and drinking, drugs, sex etc. is that you’re practicing an occult practice. CP is occult.

    I think of it more as answering the call of a Berean.

    Calling out, trying to warn — danger!

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