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Outside the Radar

"A New Age spirituality has infiltrated much of the Christian church, and an attempt to reorient evangelicalism is taking place outside the radar of most believers." -Ray Yungen

What if you were given the sinister job of redirecting the attention of someone away from something they desperately need to something else? And what if you decided to create this new alluring focus by partially mimicking what they need, not only for the purpose of distraction, but to deceptively secure their allegiance?

Satan is alive and well, and has been successfully infiltrating the ranks since the garden. His job hasn't changed. He is the father of lies, an expert at mixing truth with error. His main objective is to lure people away from the gospel, expose them to lies couched in truth, and point them to anything that will entice them into believing their deep needs will be satisfied–as long as it's away from Jesus Christ.

Add this to the lack of spiritual discernment in the church today because very few study their Bibles, and you'll find many have been deceived into listening to the wrong voices. People are craving spiritual experiences. They grasp on to unbiblical practices such as "holy yoga" (such an oxymoron!), contemplative prayer, lectio divina, mindfulness, and even ecumenicalism. (Read a previous blog post on "holy yoga" here.)

Be Still

If you know me very well, you know how much I cringe at walking into a Christian bookstore and seeing their t-shirts, mugs, jewelry, rugs, teapots, Bible covers, etc. adorned with the phrase "Be Still." My kids sure know how to tease me by showing me memes and pictures of various items that promote this, while 'threatening' to buy one for me for Christmas, haha. I always receive an elbow and a smile when we hear the verse mentioned anywhere, whether through a song or sermon. So what's the problem?

Well, Psalm 46:10 has been widely taken out of context, and has become the "mascot" verse for the contemplative movement, a common text that "contemplative Christians" use to support their unbiblical practices. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” They claim this as their "go to" verse to endorse the (New Age) meditation skill of ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to STILL the mind by putting it in a sort of "neutral." When this is employed, all free flow of thinking stops and this causes a shift in consciousness.

When you hear the words “go into the silence” or “be still” in the context of using meditation for health benefits (stress reduction, relaxation techniques) or for getting “closer” to God, this is actually a technique coming right out of Hinduism and/or Buddhism. This is unbiblical! Ever hear of “mindfulness”? This involves focussing on the breath to stop the normal flow of thought, and it acts like a mantra. And have you ever wondered what “mantra” means? The actual definition of “mantra” coming from Sanskrit is man, meaning to think — and tra, meaning “to be liberated from.” The literal meaning is “to escape from thought.”

Biblical meditation involves USING the mind, not pausing all thoughts. We are to think on God’s Word, not repeat biblical phrases as mantras over and over to numb our minds. When we use our mind to meditate on His Word, God speaks to us with His truth. There is no such discipline taught in Scripture that encourages us to shut down the mind in order to make contact with God. This is eastern mysticism, and a ploy Satan has used to lure our eyes away from Jesus Christ! Such an important difference that people need to understand.

And the "Be Still" verse (Psalm 46:10) has nothing to do with prayer when considering the context. The people were afraid, their world was falling apart; there was war and threatening invasion all around them. They needed to be reminded that God was in control. This text is not a biblical endorsement for a mystical practice of creating a “blank slate” in which personal communication from God can be received. “Be still” is not a call to cultivate ‘silent’ worship’ or ‘listening prayer.’

“In this explosive context, ‘be still’ is not an invitation to tranquil meditation but a command to allow God to be God, to do his work of abolishing the weapons of war.” Craig C. Broyles, Psalms p210.

Contemplative prayer advocates, while seeking an altered state of consciousness, may forget that God is the object and they are the subjects. “The history of mysticism only too clearly shows that he who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God.” Benjamin B. Warfield, Mysticism and Christianity, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 9, p661.

One of the authors at LightHouse Trails, who was heavily involved in the New Age religion wrote that many of the teachings and communications they received in the New Age were channeled during meditative and contemplative quiet times when they were absorbed in the silence. She recalled attending an Edgar Cayce conference where they began each day by meditating on Psalm 46:10 ("Be still, and know that I am God.”)

We were being "still" and we were quoting Scripture, but we were continually affirming that we were God by emphasizing the “I" as we repeated the phrase 'I am God' over and over again. We were “going within” to the “god within.” Be still and know that “I” am God. In our open and unguarded state of “being still” we were not being taught that God was God. We were being taught that “we” were God.

Have you heard of the DVD that came out in 2006 called "Be Still?" You know, the one that Richard Foster, Max Lucado and Beth Moore took part in? Great example of how big names have helped mysticism innocently skate into mainstream Christianity.

From the "Bible Study Guide" that accompanies the DVD, it says:

"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."

And then scoot to page 9 under the subheading “Contemplative Prayer” and you will find this: “The Bible speaks specifically about being quiet and still before the Lord.” And what verse do they use to back this up -- that Scripture is speaking about being “quiet and still” in preparation for Contemplative/Centering Prayer meditation? Psalm 46:10. Shocker.

Contemplative Prayer

"As the Word of God becomes less and less important, the rise in mystical experiences escalates, and these experiences are presented to convince the unsuspecting that Christianity is about feeling, touching, smelling, and seeing God. The postmodern mindset is the perfect environment for fostering Spiritual Formation. This term suggests there are various ways and means to get closer to God and to emulate him." -Roger Oakland

Contemplative Prayer is a dangerous, unscriptural form of prayer that is based on the techniques of eastern religions, and is being introduced into Bible-believing churches to non-discerning Christians who seek to experience God apart from His Word. Wrapped in Christian terminology and rooted in mysticism, Contemplative Prayer teaches that everyone has a divine center. With an inward, self-centered focus, it effectively attacks the sufficiency of Scripture by encouraging those who engage in it to be quiet and listen for God to speak, resulting in Scripture losing its position as the final, authoritative Word from God.

Richard Foster (listed above on the DVD) is considered to be the "father" of the Evangelical Spiritual Formation movement and has done much to promote contemplative prayer. He claims his mentor was Thomas Merton, a Buddhist, who also promoted this type of prayer. Quick note on Thomas Merton-- he denies the doctrine of original sin when he says at, “the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth.” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p158) I wonder if he ever read Jeremiah 17:9?? But I digress...

Foster even went as far as encouraging people to pray a “prayer of protection” before they practiced contemplative prayer! Quoting from his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home:

I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know… there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection… “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.”

Seriously? You have to ask for protection before starting contemplative prayer??? One of my favorite authors on this subject nails it by saying this: “I cannot find a single place in the Bible where we are instructed to pray a prayer of protection before we pray. The fact that Foster recognizes contemplative prayer can open the door to the fallen spirit world is very revealing.” -Ray Yungen

Ever hear of Henri Nouwen? This Dutch Catholic priest was deeply involved in contemplative mysticism, and strongly influenced by Merton, claiming that contemplative meditation is necessary for an intimacy with God. He said that mysticism and contemplative prayer can create ecumenical unity because Christian leaders learn to hear “the voice of love." If you ever hear a pastor mention him, quote him, or encourage you to read his work, then consider what he said here first:

“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).

I remember back in 2013 when I first heard of this type of prayer at a church leadership conference. Our church took all of the head leads of ministry up to a Christian conference ground in the Santa Cruz mountains for 4 days or so. The daughter church we had launched years prior in San Francisco was hosting this event, and introduced all of us to a type of prayer where you're to be quiet and "listen." Red flags went up in my head as I looked around the room, puzzled at what was happening.

When I got home, I did a ton of research and found it to be an unbiblical practice that comes out of eastern religions. Absolutely horrified that our church would partake in this, I talked to many around me who had no clue and really were not bothered by it. Found out my alma mater (Westmont College in SB) was actually promoting it, and had dedicated a whole building to Dallas Willard, another proponent of mysticism within evangelicalism. I scheduled a lunch appointment with the chaplain's secretary and found she was fully in agreement with everything the college was doing, even though she listened to all of my concerns. Months later I was asked to speak at a women's event at our church and decided that the topic should be "Becoming a Berean," for that was the source of the problem, in my estimation. There was a serious lack of spiritual discernment.

You see, the Bereans in scripture "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11 ) I encouraged these women to dig into their Bibles, to become spiritually discerning and carefully examine everything they're taught (1 Thess 5:21); to be on the alert, pay attention, be as watchmen earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 3); to be like the children of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what God would have them do (1 Chron 12:32). I explained the term 'contemplative prayer,' and described what I saw that was creeping into the church. Most of them seemed to have that dazed look of "I have no idea what you're talking about," but a few understood. And this is when I invited them to join my "Ruminators" group on Facebook, which encouraged people to read through the New Testament in a different sort of way-- a four year journey. You can read about it in a previous blog post here, or watch the 4 minute promo video here.

Church staff reacted to my voiced concerns with a form of patronization, disinterest, and a blanketed unwillingness to further discuss the issue. I sounded the alarm, but nobody really listened. We watched as our church slowly walked down the road of spiritual formation and mysticism, fully embraced by many on staff. The veil of deception runs far and wide, and sometimes you just need to walk away.


So if we take Satan's nefarious ploy of mixing truth with error and combine that with a lack of discernment and a craving for a 'spiritual experience,' we find the state of evangelicalism primed to advance even ecumenicalism in the latter days. You've seen it! Prominent church leaders and pastors are pushing this, which completely goes against the Bible. A one world religion sounds much more doable than it did twenty years ago, doesn't it? But Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The Bible is completely clear that there is only one way to God, and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Gotta keep our eyes on Him! Run away from those who tell you to go into the silence and be still, to put your brain in neutral and listen for voices inside of you!

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus* does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. 1 John 4:1-6

We must get back to studying our Bibles, for there we will find what we need to rightfully discern truth from error and recognize what is going on outside the radar.


I highly recommend reading this book for more information, as I just scratched the surface on this subject. I've read a bunch of books on this, but my favorite one of all is A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World's Religions by Ray Yungen. My book is worn, torn, and filled with highlights, notes, and many dog-eared pages. Excellent book. Can get it off of Amazon here.

Also check out my hashtag campaign from many years ago on X (Twitter). Search for #SayNoToContemplative

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