“Take a little word, and repeat it.”

As we have seen in this month’s posts, Mennonites are being taught a silent prayer practice that involves finding a quiet place to sit comfortably, choose a meaningful word/phrase that helps them focus on God, and be absolutely still and quiet while letting thoughts go and mentally reciting their word/phrase for 20 minutes.

This month, Menno-lite has been shining a light on such contemplative practices endorsed by the Mennonites. This article by Ray Yungen flows along the same lines…

The Cloud of Unknowing – “Take a little word, and repeat it.”

The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous monk, has passed under the radar of many church libraries, Christian bookstores, and theological seminaries and colleges. But this book is a primer on mystical contemplative spirituality. Check your church library and see if this book is sitting on the shelves.

by Ray Yungen

To my dismay, I discovered ‘mystical silence’ is accomplished by the same methods used by New Agers to achieve their silence–the mantra and the breath! Contemplative prayer is the repetition of what is referred to as a prayer word or sacred word until one reaches a state where the soul, rather than the mind, contemplates God. Contemplative prayer teacher and Zen master Willigis Jager brought this out when he postulated:

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply”sound” the word silently, letting go of all feelings and thoughts.( Jager, Contemplation, p. 31)

Read more of this enlightening excerpt from A Time of Departing, here:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=5656

UPDATE: In light of this, also see:

Centering Prayer Method – True Prayer or Muddy Delusion?

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Contemplative Teachings

The spiritual techniques which we are now seeing in the church, and labeled as Christian, originated in the religions of the east but were not made popular until the 60’s.

The 1960s did not penetrate very deeply into the small towns of the Quaboag Valley of central Massachusetts. Even so, Father Thomas Keating, the abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey, couldn’t help noticing the attraction that the exotic religious practices of the East held for many young Roman Catholics. To him, as a Trappist monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought, there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple but powerful spiritual techniques available to laypeople. His Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in 1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative meditation, “The Cloud of Unknowing.” Drawing on that work, as well as the writings of the contemplatives Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila, the two monks began teaching a form of Christian meditation that grew into the worldwide phenomenon known as centering prayer. Twice a day for 20 minutes, practitioners find a quiet place to sit with their eyes closed and surrender their minds to God. In more than a dozen books and in speeches and retreats that have attracted tens of thousands, Keating has spread the word to a world of “hungry people, looking for a deeper relationship with God.”

SOURCE:
In Search of the Spiritual
www.newsweek.com/2005/08/28/in-search-of-the-spiritual.html

If you have been taught to practice contemplative prayer in your Mennonite church, school, seminary, or retreat centre, you may be familiar with many of the names and methods mentioned in the above article. It is important to know the roots of this movement, and why it has no place in true Christianity. The following article explains more:

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER

In the 1970’s, three mystic Roman Catholic monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating (head monk) labeled Centering Prayer as a “method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer”. It is “…the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God… whom we know by faith is within us… Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence…” 3

The Contemplative Outreach Ltd. website featuring Thomas Keating’s teachings, provides further insight into the method of Contemplative Prayer and lists the guidelines to practice it. It states:

“This method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.” “The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to Contemplative Prayer, is the indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “ “It is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage including John Cassian, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton.” Emphasis Added

Contemplative Prayer “Guidelines include:

1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.

2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

3. When engaged with your thoughts*, return ever-so gently to the sacred word.

4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

*Thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections.” 4 Emphasis Added

In my research, it became clear that these Roman Catholic monks were influenced by pagan Eastern Religions. “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.” 5

SOURCE:
Contemplative Prayer: Seducing Spirits and a Doctrine of Devils
By Christine A. Narloch
http://www.earnestlycontend.com/cp.html

The following are some more names that you will eventually be introduced to if you are being trained in unbiblical contemplative spirituality. Click on them to find out who they are, so that when you hear or read these names in your Mennonite church, school, seminary, small group, or retreat centre, you will be able to speak the truth to your deceived teachers:

Desert Fathers
St. Teresa of Avila
Madam Guyon
St. John of the Cross
Brother Lawrence
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Thomas Merton
Evelyn Underhill
Julian of Norwich
Thomas Keating
Henry Nouwen

The time has come when the Mennonites will not endure sound doctrine, but are gathering to themselves teachers, Buddhists, Roman Catholic monks, nuns, demonically inspired mystics and occultists, who instruct them in ways to hear what their ears want to hear.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 2 Timothy 4:3

Related:

Dear “Contemplative Christian”: Are you the victim of seducing spirits?

by Ray Yungen
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1652

Lectio Divina vs. Context

Whatever happened to context? You know, that old fashioned idea of studying a Bible verse in the light of what surrounds it…that out dated method that was good enough for your old Mennonite grandfather, the one whose feet were always firmly planted on the Rock no matter which way the winds of adversity were blowing…

PRINCIPLE: Context always rules in interpretation, whether you are studying a single word, one verse or a larger section of Scripture. Always check to see who the “neighbors” are!

Context is the setting in which something “dwells”. If you take a fish out of water, it doesn’t function well! This principle holds for any passage of Scripture which is taken out of context.

In simple terms, context is that which goes with the text, the “neighbors” so to speak — that which comes before and after.

Webster says that “context” is “the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning”.

The English word context is derived from com = with and texere = to weave or braid, and thus means to weave together! (…)

Any time we break into the middle of a book, a chapter or a paragraph, we need to look at the surrounding context. When you interpret Scripture, whether it is a single word, a verse or a paragraph, you must always consider the Scripture in light of the surrounding verses, chapters and book in which it is found and finally in the context of the entire Bible. Your interpretation should never contradict the context of the book, chapter or paragraph you are studying. If you ignore context, the accuracy of your interpretation will suffer. Remember that a text taken out of context potentially can become a pretext (a fictitious reason given in order to conceal the real one – Example = “He gave plausible reasons for his conduct, but these were only a pretext to conceal his real motives.”) which is how many of the cults have originated (click example).

One of the early reformed theologians Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) emphasized the importance of context, declaring that pulling a passage from its context “is like breaking off a flower from its roots.”

SOURCE: KEEP CONTEXT KING

Many Christian training and retreat centers today are forgetting that a biblical passage is only fully understood and applied when studied in the light of its context. Instead of using this biblical method of meditating, studying the scriptures, and applying God’s Word, they are tossing out context and using the method of Lectio Divina. As mentioned last week, here is one such example from the Mark Centre:

Lectio Divina

Receiving and Savoring the Word

Invitations from God

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (I Sam 3:10)
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:9)
“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:2)
Purpose

• This prayerful reading of Scripture is complimentary to Bible Study, but meant to be an experience of receiving words from God in the here and now.
• Lectio Divina has been compared to “Feasting on the Word.”
• Practicing this regularly can help “the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col 3:16)

Practice

• In a quiet setting READ the PASSAGE out loud at least twice.
• PAY ATTENTION to the word or phrase that grabs you.
• In silence, allow God to use that word or phrase to speak to your heart.
• Don’t try to figure out the whole passage, enjoy and savor what God is saying to you.
• What is the word or phrase stirring up in your heart? Write down your ideas.
• Read the passage out loud again. Pause for another minute of silence while you ponder the question: “If what I have been meditating on is true, then what?” “What is my response?”
• If you are in a group, give opportunity to talk to each other about what God is saying to each of you.

http://www.markcentre.org/ListeningTools/LectioDivina.html

They may not even realize it because it can seem new, easy and exciting, but those who practice this ‘ancient’ method of ‘holy reading’ are actually throwing context out of the window in favor of a mystical experience called “inner knowledge.”

Those who take this supernatural approach to the text can disconnect it from its context and natural meaning and use it in a subjective, individualistic, experiential, even name-it-and-claim-it way for which it was never intended. Here is where lectio and gnosticism dovetail into one. Christian gnosticism is the belief that one must have a “gnosis” (from Greek Gnosko, “to know”) or mystical, inner knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge, limiting the number of those “in the know.” Naturally, the idea of having inside information is very appealing and makes the “knower” feel important, special and unique in that he/she has a special experience with God that no one else has. The “knower” believes that the masses are not in possession of spiritual knowledge and only the truly “enlightened” can experience God. Thus, the reintroduction of contemplative, or centering, prayer—a meditative practice where the focus is on having a mystical experience with God—into the Church. Contemplative prayer is similar to the meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults and has no basis whatsoever in the Bible, although the contemplative pray-ers do use the Bible as a starting point.

Further, the dangers inherent in opening our minds and listening for voices should be obvious. The contemplative pray-ers are so eager to hear something—anything—that they can lose the objectivity needed to discern between God’s voice, their own thoughts, and the infiltration of demons into their minds.

What is Lectio Divina?
http://www.gotquestions.org/lectio-divina.html

This is dangerous ground, as false teachings and heresies in the church always begin with the practice of taking verses out of context and perverting the doctrines of the Bible. That’s why Context always trumps Lectio Divina. If you truly want to discern what God is saying to you through His Holy Word, try prayerfully studying using the context approach, not the experiential so called ‘holy reading’ approach of the contemplative mystics. The ‘spiritual directors’ and trained ‘mentors’ in contemplative spirituality might tell you otherwise, but in order to hear God’s voice, you do NOT need a repetitious, ‘ancient,’ ‘holy reading’ method called Lectio Divina, you just need to regularly read the ancient book called the Holy Bible. All of it.

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
Acts 20:26,27

Related:

Why is it important to study the Bible in context?
http://www.gotquestions.org/context-Bible.html

What is inductive Bible study?
http://www.gotquestions.org/inductive-Bible-study.html

The Whole Counsel of God
We must teach what Christ commanded to be taught; not what people consider “relevant”
by Bob DeWaay
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue57.htm

Also see:

Centering Prayer Method – True Prayer?

Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8368

Can you Practice the Presence of God?

The Holy Spirit as Personal Comforter

The idea of “practicing the presence of God” is meaningless. Do we also practice the omniscience of God; or perhaps, we need to practice His omnipotence?
– Pastor Ken Silva [1]

The point in this quote above is well said. As various forms of mysticism invade the evangelical church today, heresies about the nature of the Holy Spirit and His actions, are running rampant. Evangelicals are being told that in order to connect with the divine, they must meditate, contemplate and practice various new/old forms of mysticism. This has no biblical foundation, but rather more closely approximates the views and practices of eastern meditation. In fact, those of us who formerly practiced Transcendental Meditation in its many manifestations easily recognize this heresy — and the dangers of connecting with the spirit world. But our prior experience in this realm doesn’t mean that the warnings we issue will be heeded.

More here:

Not Prana
http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/01/not-prana.html

Should Christians Repeat a Mantra?

Is it okay for Christians to use the name of Jesus Christ as a Mantra in meditation? What is the subconscious purpose of repeating any Mantra? Read what this meditation guide says and then decide if this is a biblical method to practice:

STEP TWO: Repetition of Mantra

The second part of meditation, which is an aspect of internal dharana (concentration), consists of japa or repetition of a mantra, and can be combined with dhyana (contemplation). A mantra is a sound-form representing a basic spiritual ideal, such as uniting with the infinite spirit (Om), or transcendental truth, knowledge, infinity (satyam, gyanam, anantam), or a personal deity like Shiva or Vishnu or Buddha or Christ. A mantra can also be an affirmation of an ideal, such as Soham (I am one with the infinite) or Hari Om Tat Sat (the Lord is the infinite spirit, that is the truth). The two well-known Hebrew mantras are Adonai (my Lord) and Elohim (the all-powerful Lord of all).

A mantra should not be considered a magic formula, for there is no magic in Yoga. Continuous repetition of a sound-form helps to tap mental energy and focus it into the subconscious in order to plant and stimulate a spiritual ideal therein. This is the basic purpose of japa. To call it transcendental meditation is to indulge in hyperbole. There are various kinds of mantra but for japa its shorter forms are recommended, such as Om, or Soham, or a slightly larger form as Hari Om or Hari Om Tat Sat.

According to the voluminous Sanskrit-English dictionary by Sir Monier-Williams (Oxford University Press), the word mantra means, among other definitions, “to concentrate with”, drawing its roots man from manas or mind (more specifically, the conscious aspect of the mind) and tra from possibly trada (see under tra) or that which pierces or as per my inference that which engraves. Thus, mantra is a sound-form to consciously engrave in the subconscious a spiritual ideal of identity. Trada also means that which opens up, thus inferentially one’s spiritual consciousness. Remotely, the root tra can also be traced to tras (see under tra) which means to shine, thus inferentially the spirit within.

The mind is a field of energy. Energy pulsates through a principle or structure of movement. The mind moves by the pulsation of memory, latching on to one and then to another. Thus, the energy of the mind is dispersed. The purpose of repeating a sound-form continuously is to make the mind move in a tight circle, thus tapping its energy. Simultaneously, the sentiment of love for the spiritual ideal behind should be focused deeply within.

One may begin the second part of meditation by refocusing the mind in the breath, trying to be absorbed in it, as before, for a minute or two. Then start the mental intonation of the mantra Om, slowly and concentrating deeply, along with the inflowing breath, feeling its coolness, and again with the outflowing, feeling the warmth. The process should be continuous for several minutes. Then have a short pause, detaching the mind and experiencing an inner silence, and after which repeat the practice. Continue for a total of 10 minutes in the first month and then extend by another five minutes or so.

The psychological counterpart of this exercise, to be contemplated alternately, consists in feeling a subtle, sacred presence within: in the body giving it health or physical well-being, in the mind enlightening it with understanding and wiping out the shadows of negativity, in the heart or the soul awakening spiritual aspiration. The last means loving “God with all your heart and with all your soul” in the words of Jesus. These guiding sentiments are relative to the repetition of Om, which can be directed in between japa.

If the mantra is Soham, the sound So (infinite spirit) should be mentally intoned with the inflowing breath and ham (I am one with) with the outflowing, in the same way as with Om. The sentiment or the contemplative part may be based on the affirmation: “I am one with the eternal, infinite spirit within and around. The self in me is of the spiritual nature of my soul, rather than a product of physical instincts and personality traits. The self in me is purified by this communion with my soul, the essence of which is the same as the infinite, transcendental spirit of God.”

For a devout Christian the mantra can be Jesus Christ. Although it is not essential to synchronise the repetition of a mantra with the breath, the feeling of a harmonious rhythm can be developed by doing so, as if the mantra is floating in and out, permeating and enveloping oneself. Examples: repeat Hari Om inhaling and Tat Sat exhaling; or Jesus inhaling, Christ exhaling; or for those of the Jewish faith, Adonai inhaling, Elohim exhaling. While doing japa the mind should be deeply concentrated in intoning silently the mantra with a feeling of love for the ideal. Combining this dharana (concentration) with dhyana (contemplation relative to the mantra) is done in the following way:

If the mantra is Jesus Christ, or Adonai-Elohim, repeat the words for five minutes, then unfocus the mind breathing spontaneously for a minute or two, and begin the contemplative part for five minutes or so. This is done with the help of three phrases. In the case of Jesus Christ or a Vishnu mantra like Om Namo Narayanaya, the image of the deity may be visualised in the mind, or in the case of Adonai-Elohim a sphere of light as a symbol, but it is not easy and can be considered optional.

Repeat about half-a-dozen times each of the three following phrases very slowly and with deep feeling: “My body is your temple”, then pause and feel for a couple of minutes a flow of harmony coursing through the entire body, the spirit of God purifying it, giving it health. Then repeat in the same way “My mind is your altar”, pausing again to feel a profound peace permeating it, cleansing and liberating it from all that is unwholesome. Then “My soul is your abode”, followed by a feeling of pure love filling your heart.

This combined form of dharana and dhyana may be practised for five minutes each and then extended to an equal amount of time or a total of 20 minutes, or as long as one wishes.

A Guide to Meditation
by Swami Shivapremananda
http://www.positivehealth.com/articles/meditation/2169

Can the practices of Eastern religion and Christianity be combined? Is it okay for Christian pastors, missionaries and students be choosing a meaningful word/phrase that helps them focus on God, such as ABBA, Father, Creator, Jesus or Maranatha, and mentally recite this word/phrase?

“…one must remember that integrating any form of paganism into Christian spirituality is a form of evil and considered by God an abomination. Simply relabeling or redefining pagan spirituality for Christians does not make it Christian or Biblical. Call it “centering prayer”, Christian yoga”, Christian mantra’s”, Visualizing Jesus” “Eucharistic adoration”, etc., it is simply pagan spirituality lightly sprayed with Christian terminology. People too often forget that one of Satan’s goals is to bring mysticism and occultism into the church and deceive people into thinking they are “communing with the Divine”.”

-DEFINING DECEPTION: WHAT IS YOGA, MYSTICISM, NEW AGE AND THE OCCULT?
By Chris Lawson
http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/definingdeceptionyogamysticism.html

More reasons why using a repetitive word or phrase is not a biblical means to approach God can be found here:

Contemplating The Alternative
http://www.inplainsite.org/html/contemplating_the_alternative.html#3Uni

RELATED:

What is Mantra Meditation?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/meditationexcerptbyray.htm

Meditation
Finding the god within

http://www.letusreason.org/NAM27.htm

NEW AGE Pathways in the church
http://www.letusreason.org/current86.htm

More Mennonite Meditation Comparisons and Questions

Please use discernment while reading the following three meditations, and then compare them with the fourth one.

MEDITATION #1

Calming Minds [http://www.calmingminds.com] is a counseling practice in the UK that offers psychotherapy, Reiki, hypnotherapy, and spirituality. Their essence of spirituality is the search to ‘know our true selves,’ and to ‘discover the real nature of consciousness,’ the foundation of all great spiritual teachings, and goal of all great mystics being: “To know thy self, is to know the Divine.” At Calming Minds, the belief is that Divinity is the essence of every creature, and every person, hence the search to discover Divine truth in one’s own innermost essence. Since “Inner joy is your rightful state,” the website says, one can always trust one’s inner self and true inner guide. The following is one of the meditation methods from Calming Minds:

Autogenic relaxation
Autogenic means something that comes from within you. During this type of relaxation, you repeat words or suggestions in your mind to help you relax and reduce the tension in your muscles. Find a peaceful place where you’ll be free of interruptions. Then follow these steps:
1. Choose a focus word, mantra, or image you find relaxing. (Examples include ‘peace’ or “I am peaceful”.)
2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Relax your muscles, starting at your head, working down your body to your feet.
5. Breathe slowly and naturally, focusing on your word, phrase or image.
6. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. If your mind wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing and the word, mantra or image you selected.
7. After time is up, sit quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Open your eyes and sit in silence for a few more minutes.

SOURCE:
http://www.calmingminds.com/relaxation.html

MEDITATION #2

The Guided Meditation Site says Guided meditations help one “achieve a state of deep inner stillness, so that your mind can be cleared of clutter and unwanted thoughts, and then filled with vivid visualization experiences that effect positive personal changes.” Well crafted visualizations help one have an inner experience and realization of outer changes.

Why is this so important? Let’s allow The Buddha to answer that question for us:
“The mind is everything.
What you think you become.”

Easy Meditation Techniques
Create a space to meditate
Find a quiet place where you wont be disturbed for at least 20 minutes and make sure that you are … comfortable…
Take a seat
…Sit up, but make sure you are comfortable…
How long?
Take a few deep breaths while you settle and prepare to sit still for the next 20 minutes. If you are new to meditation, 20 minutes can seem like a long time, but make it your intention to stick with it, and promise yourself that you will continue to sit silently until the 20 minutes has passed.
Observe your breathing
Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. ..for the next 20 minutes – just sit quietly. Don’t try to stop your thoughts, just notice them, and then let go of them. It’s important that you keep this in mind while you learn how to do transcendental meditation, because it’s inevitable that your mind will entertain thoughts during your meditation. This is completely normal. Each time you notice that you are caught up in thinking, pause to let go of the thoughts and return your attention to your breathing. In and out, in and out.
Repeat a mantra
As an alternative to focusing on your breathing, you may choose to focus your attention on a “mantra” – a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself mentally. For example, you might choose to mentally repeat the word “relax” or the phrase “I am silent”. Think of something that you find easy to repeat and that feels soothing and natural to you. Repeat the mantra slowly and quietly in your mind and if you find that you have become distracted by other thoughts, just notice them and return to the mantra…
Integration time – ending a meditation
When your meditation is over, don’t get up immediately and start running around. Lie down for at least a few minutes afterwards to allow your body and mind to gradually return to a normal waking state before you get up and resume your normal activities.

SOURCE:
http://www.the-guided-meditation-site.com/easy-meditation-techniques.html

MEDITATION #3

How To Become A Witch
Why Meditation Is Your Key To Becoming A Witch (And How To Do It For Recharging Magick Energy)
Meditation is one of the most importance activities you can do to increase your focus and control of the energies around you – and most importanty – “become” a witch. You should always do some meditation as a daily devotional. (I’ll tell you all about the daily devotionals a bit later)
Meditation uses visualization, focus, belief, and will to heighten your awareness and connection with the Magick energies you were born with. It will also heighten your psychic awareness for help in the divinations you will be doing.
The key to using meditation to increase your overall Magick power is consistency. Work with it on a daily basis. And it is quite simple.
Here are some quick steps you can start with to try out some meditation – so you can begin your path of becoming a witch.
Step 1:
First, find a quiet place where you know you’ll have at least 15 – 20 minutes of time without any interruptions.
Step 2:
Get comfortable – whatever position is most comfortable for you. I like to sit on a cushion on the floor, with my back against a wall…Make sure you keep your spine straight throughout this process…
Step 3:
Close your eyes…Relax. Take a deep breath in, hold, and breath out.
Step 4:
Focus on your breathing…
Step 5:
Gradually slow your breathing down…Visualize breathing in light and love, and breathing out negativity and fear.

SOURCE:
http://www.askroseariadne.com/how-to-become-a-witch-2.html

Now compare these meditations with the following Silent Prayer method taught to Mennonite/Christian pastors, students and now even missionaries at the Mark Centre (retreat centre affiliated with the BC Mennonite Brethren Conference which is also promoted in the MB Herald):

MEDITATION #4

Practice

• Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.
• Review scriptures that invite you to silence before God.
• Choose a meaningful word/phrase that helps you focus on God. (For example, “ABBA Father” or “Creator”)
• Be absolutely still and quiet, focusing on the presence of God.
• As thoughts and concerns come to mind, let them go by mentally reciting your word/phrase.
• Perhaps picture the thoughts/concerns floating by like boats in a river. As they go by, you don’t stop them and analyze them, you simply release them to keep floating down the river.
• Continue this process for about 20 minutes. End with a prayer.

SOURCE: http://www.markcentre.org/ListeningTools/SilentPrayer.html

Now compare these four meditations, weighing these teachings with God’s Word to see if they measure up with what God says about meditation, prayer and hearing His voice. If you don’t know how to do that, the following guide may be helpful.

GUIDED QUESTIONS and HOMEWORK:

Can you see any similarities between the steps in these methods?
Can you find anywhere in the Bible where Christians are instructed to practice this method of guided mantra meditation and visualization?
Can you find anywhere in the Bible where Christians are instructed not to worship or pray repetitively like the pagans?
Are there any warnings in the Bible about participating in the ways of darkness?
Why is the BC MB Conference, and the MB Herald, condoning these practices which are similar, if not identical, to those used in New Age and eastern religions, Wicca, and Transcendental Meditation?
Is anyone else remotely concerned, besides a few ignored bloggers, that Mennonite Brethren pastors, students, church leaders and now even missionaries are being taught these methods of mantra repetition, relaxation, and visualization?
Is anyone concerned that these practices may be (and are being) taught in MB churches by Christian leaders who attend contemplative retreats?
Will anyone else ask these questions?
Will anyone answer these questions?

Note: Also helpful to use is a Bible search engine, such as this one, as a study aid (for example, type “repetition” into the search box and click on the “Search for keyword or phrase” button on the bottom of the page).

Also see:

Mennonite Meditation Comparison
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/meditation-comparison/

Why are Mennonite pastors, students and missionaries being taught to sit comfortably repeating a word quietly for 20 minutes?
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/why-are-mennonite-pastors-students-and-missionaries-being-taught-to-sit-comfortably-repeating-a-word-quietly-for-20-minutes/

MB Herald Promotes the Spread of Contemplative Spirituality through Missions
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/mb-herald-promotes-the-spread-of-contemplative-spirituality-through-missions/

Also see this well researched blog:

ARCHIVE OF MENNONITE BRETHREN CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY
http://mbcontemplativearchive.blogspot.com/

WHY IS THE MB HERALD FEATURING “A RADICAL PRAYER GATHERING” LED BY RACHEL TWIGG-BOYCE?

WHY IS THE MB HERALD FEATURING “A RADICAL PRAYER GATHERING” LED BY RACHEL TWIGG-BOYCE?

MB Herald January 2011 prints an article entitled, “Ministry hosts radical prayer gathering” which contains the following information:

“Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals “makes it easier for us to truly live into what it means to be a priesthood of believers,” says Rachel Twigg-Boyce of HouseBlend ministries. With corporate and individual prayer as a core value of the Winnipeg-based MB ministry for the transformation of community, she jumped at the chance to host a launch party for the book, putting her emerging ministry on the leading edge of a worldwide network of gatherings…When registration on Common Prayer’s website exceeded what the house could comfortably accommodate, Twigg-Boyce decided to hold 2 parties, rather than cut off attendance or move to a less personal venue…At both events, guests read through selected prayers together, sang, and prayed for personal concerns…That evening included a Skype conversation with co-author Shane Claiborne, who said a group of Protestants and Catholics united over the book in Ireland that day as well. Dec. 1, more than 25 people attended a casual evening of learning about the book, HouseBlend, and each other. ” 1.

Obviously this is a book which was published to foster unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants and/or evangelicals, a phenomenon which I have been concerned about for the past 4 years or so.

Incidentally, for the MB Herald readers who may never have heard of the host of this “radical prayer gathering”, Rachel Twigg-Boyce is the director of House Blend Ministries, an initiative of Mennonite Brethren Church in Manitoba. Twigg-Boyce is also in the process of completing her training as a spiritual director at the very contemplative and Roman Catholic retreat in Winnipeg called St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Centre, where she appears on their 2010-2011 schedule of “Spirituality Programs”. She appears in a photo on their web-schedule with three Roman Catholic Benedictine Sisters as a part of their “Spirituality Team”. The Retreat and Conference Centre provides events which include taize, centering prayer (based on the teachings of Fr. Thomas Keating), lectio divina, the enneagram, implementing the psychology of occultist Carl Jung, participating in the Eucharist, and focusing on the “monastic life” in general.

Please read more of this well researched article here:

http://mbcontemplativearchive.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-is-mb-herald-featuring-radical.html

*Read more posts on Menno-lite about Shane Claiborne and the Mennonites by using the search box or by simply clicking HERE.