For those unfamiliar with Spiritual Formation, here’s the scoop. Spiritual Formation was introduced by Quaker “mystic” Richard Foster with his bestselling 1978 book Celebration of Discipline. Here are the basics: Spiritual Formation consists of various spiritual disciplines. The most dangerous aspect of Spiritual Formation is the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer (also called contemplative spirituality). (We’ll refer to this as CP/CS.)
CP/CS practices form the very core of Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to “practice” Spiritual Formation without including CP/CS. And CP/CS is rotten – it comes straight from the pits of Hell. Why do I say this? Because it incorporates many mystic/occult practices. These practices are drawn, as Richard Foster puts it, “from other faith traditions.” What are the these “other faith traditions?” Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the New Age movement, and other nonbibical, anti-Christian world views!
I am particularly appalled by the “heaviest” contemplative practices among many evangelicals in Spiritual Formation currently: breath prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina – and yes – labyrinth “prayer”! If so-called Christians do not repent of ALL contemplative practices, I believe the following saying will apply: “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
To see where evangelical students of Spiritual Formation (SF) are headed in contemplative practices, watch carefully the Mainline/liberal SF programs and Catholic SF programs. Their contemplative practices have gone way beyond the contemplative practices of most evangelical SF programs. If evangelicals do not leave this downward path, I believe they will end up “doing” all the contemplative practices of mainline/ liberals, Catholics, and worse. As mentioned above, many gullible evangelicals are already using the New Age practice of walking the labyrinth.
Now for a list. These are a few of the many CP/CS practices to watch out for in your church or denomination – there are probably hundreds of more practices.
Art as Prayer
Blessing (The Blessing)
Care of the Earth
Dance (Body Prayer)
The Jesus Prayer
Lectio Divina (Scripture Meditation)
Listening to Wisdom
Meditation on the Heart’s Longing
Music as Prayer
Practicing the Presence
Prayer of Recollection
Praying in Color
Praying the Psalms (repetitively)
Praying the Scriptures (repetitively)
Praying with Beads
Praying with Icons
Praying with the Body
Praying with the Mystics
Rule for Life
Saints (Praying with the Saints)
Scriptio Divina (Sacred Writing)
The Sign of the Cross
Stages of the Journey
Stations of the Cross
Walking Meditation in Nature
Writing as Prayer
Yoga (Sacred Yoga)
Note – some of the practices in the above list came from these sources:
[For more info on any of the above terms, try Googling them.]
And the list goes on… and on… and on… Often, perfectly sounding practices (such as “Devotional Reading” and “Praying the Psalms” ) can be twisted into mystic CP/CS practices.
For longer lists of CP/CS practices, see the following resources. IN NO WAY do I recommend these – these are simply resources to help you determine whether CP/CS is going on in your church:
1) Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
This is very insightful book listing contemplative practices – and explaining in detail how to “do” them. What’s really shocking about this handbook, is, this book is put out by an historically evangelical publisher (IVP):
To see the Table of Contents (which lists the contemplative practices) via Amazon.com, click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.
2) 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times, by Teresa A. Blythe (from Abingdon, a mainline Protestant publisher)
Examine this book closely. This is just one of many non-evangelical “Christian” books listing various contemplative practices.
To see the Table of Contents which lists the 50 ways to “pray,” click on the “Read Inside” caption above the book’s cover photo.
3) The Contemplative Mind Tree (on a New Age website)
This New Age diagram also provides an online list of CP/CS practices.
And click here for a long list of Spiritual Formation individuals to watch out for. There are hundreds more not listed here.
Note – make sure you know what your children are being taught. Believe it or not, there are church groups teaching teens various CP/CS practices without informing the parents. In some churches, pre-teens and children even younger are being taught these practices.
If you see any of these practices in your church, confront your pastor about them. If your pastor does not realize these practices are mystic/occult, try to share resources with him about the dangers of these practices. If he still refuses to believe and/or acknowledge that these practices are mystic/occult, take your family and leave the church!
Here are a few more Christian articles exposing Contemplative Prayer/ Contemplative Spirituality:
“Contemplative/Centering Prayer“, by Ken Silva
Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church, by Ray Yungen