“Like lambs led to the slaughter, the people are being blinded by blind leaders.”
In the good old days, Nazarenes focused on bringing the Gospel to the Roman Catholics and introducing them to the real Jesus. My dad, a former Roman Catholic, used to travel on muleback through the mountains of Cape Verde, to preach the Gospel to Catholics. Now, the Church of the Nazarene is focused on incorporating the practices, rituals and traditions of a false religion, and calling them our brothers and sisters to boot! It’s quite amazing to watch.
One of the many cancers afflicting the Church of the Nazarene is the fascination with Roman Catholic and Eastern mysticism practices. The denomination is getting so wrapped up in feel good and legalistic ritualism at the expense of focusing on biblical preaching and teaching, that in a great number of churches now you might think you are at a Catholic mass. And yet at times, a Nazarene church will even go beyond what most Catholic churches are doing.
The College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe KS, as an example of many, is doing just that. Breath prayers are now the order of the day, and it is the norm at many Nazarene churches now. What are breath prayers, you may ask? They are simply a type of many kinds of contemplative mystical practices, or what is also called Christianized transcendental meditation. Below is their announcement on their site. Note the detailed instructions on the right as to when to inhale and exhale and then repeat a specific phrase.
Rick Warren popularized breath prayers, in his book Purpose Driven Life, a book that ought to be thrown in the garbage heap of false teaching. It is a book that, I confess, roped me in for a while, but by the grace of God, he opened my eyes to all this nonsense. It was a book that was used for small group study, and I was one of the leaders in these groups, and the more I read it, the more I realized something was not right. And one of the things he promotes in the book is breath prayers.
As explained at Lighthouse Trails Research:
Breath Prayers and Rick Warren
Are “breath prayers” a method by which we can become best friends with God? To direct people on a spiritual journey for 40 days, Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life. The best selling book has impacted millions of persons. Some of Pastor Warren’s purpose involves his recommendations for “Becoming Best Friends with God.” The author shares six secrets to become God’s friends, one of which is practicing God’s presence by being in “constant conversation” with him. After quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray without ceasing”), Warren asks how a Christian can practice unceasing prayer to which he answers, “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath.”
Then after providing ten examples of prayers, short biblical phrases that could work as breath prayers, Warren advises “Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart.” In this context Warren also cites the book of Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, who advocated experiencing the presence of God in the most menial of circumstances, by praying short conversational prayers throughout the day. The Roman Catholic practice of praying the rosary is also akin to breath prayers.
Though breath praying is not found in the Bible, advocates of the practice recommend repeating a short phrase, the phrase can be biblical, in prayer throughout the day. For example, in the parable of The Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus portrayed a tax collector who in repentance and humility, cried out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'” Out of this The Desert Fathers, a monastic group in Egypt during 3rd and 4th centuries, created the “Kyrie Eleison” (“Lord have mercy.”) prayer which later became known as the “Jesus Prayer.” The prayer became a favorite of these fathers who later expanded it to be, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
(For the entire article, read here).
Breath prayers are not biblical. But this is what College Church is doing now, and I am sure, many others as well. At first, my thought was that “they don’t even try to hide this stuff anymore.” But then I realized that they probably are not trying to hide it, because they see nothing wrong with it! The pastors of this church are certainly deceived and lack biblical discernment, and when they introduce this kind of nonsense to the congregation, they propagate the deception to many sheep in the pews who also lack biblical discernment. Fortunately, there have been some who have escaped this church, which is a sad example of a denomination that is becoming more and more apostate.
Joining the apostasy bandwagon of all this nonsense are many other denominations and organizations. The United Methodist Church teaches that you can “re-energize your life with a new practice.” They say that “breath prayers are another way to become more aware of God’s presence.” Guideposts, the Christian magazine, promotes breath prayers. Breath prayers are just part of the Roman Catholic and contemplative spirituality practices that have swept the Nazarene denomination and most other mainline denominations. Prayer labyrinths, prayer stations, ashes to the forehead and the observance of Lent, the “Eucharist”, and practicing the silence are all part of the “Roman Catholization” of the Church of the Nazarene.
It is obvious that mysticism and Roman Catholic practices are acceptable to most of the denomination now, and certainly its leaders have no problem with it. There is a retreat planned just before General Assembly, to be held at a Roman Catholic site, the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center, and that is no coincidence. These types of retreats have been going on for years. This center promotes the use of “spiritual directors.” Doug Hardy, a “spiritual director” who teaches at Nazarene Theological Seminary, is also part of this retreat, and you can be assured he will promote his spiritual direction foolishness at this event, and the sheep will eat it up. No one seems to care one bit that Doug Hardy is one of the leading promoters of contemplative mysticism in the world, and yet he indoctrinates future Nazarene pastors at the seminary with this nonsense.
Like lambs led to the slaughter, the people are being blinded by blind leaders. This is nothing new. It has been going on for years, and part of the blame falls right in the laps of the General Superintendents, who have totally abdicated any responsibility as the designated spiritual leaders of the denomination. But it’s not too late to repent from their dereliction of duty. And perhaps it’s not too late for the Nazarenes to bring the church back from the precipice of apostasy.