- expressing or involving prolonged thought.
"she regarded me with a contemplative eye"
synonyms:thoughtful, pensive, reflective, meditative, musing, ruminative,introspective, brooding, deep/lost in thought, in a brown study"a peaceful, contemplative mood"
- a person whose life is devoted primarily to prayer, especially in a monastery or convent.
The adjective definition is what I consider contemplative to mean traditionally, but the noun definition is interesting. A contemplative is a person, a description of a certain kind of person. What kind of person is associated with being a contemplative? Members of gender exclusive celibate religious orders, or disciplines. In other words, monks, and nuns. Monks and Nuns pray the rosary, which is mindless repetition. As a Christian, in all honesty, Catholicism, the most familiar religion that has monks and nuns (because Buddhism also has monks and nuns), is not Christianity, but rather Babylonian mystery religion veiled in Christian terms. So far, based on the secular definition alone, this method of prayer isn't starting off on the right foot. But let's continue.
Again, the traditional English definition is what I expected. Prayer is a mindful petition, not a mindless repetition like we see with rosary "prayers." So when we combine the expected and traditional definitions of these words, they seem correct, that I will "think" about how and what I will petition the Lord for and about. But as with all definitions, there is usually more than one meaning, and so clarification must be sought, not taken for granted, before one accepts a religious practice. Now lets consider what the Bible has to say about contemplative prayer, if anything at all.
All of these types biblical prayers are to be done with our minds full to the brim with and engaged in active thought. Prayer is for us to make petitions to God, it is not to be used as a medium of connection, where we "feel" his presence. Jesus taught us how to pray, and he didn't mention anything about breathing techniques, or selecting a special word, or phrase to repeat over and over. Contemplative prayers mimic eastern meditative chanting, which are limited in thought, as they focus on one word or phrase repeated.
Dear reader, again, Jesus told us how to pray, and he specifically banned this type of repetitive prayer. It is vain in its repetition, and needless as God already knows what he need. Never have I seen an endorsement for vain or mindless repetitive prayer in the hope to experience the presence of God. We are never told that God will always communicate his presence to us through practicing his presence, or that we will have a warm fuzzy feeling. And I'm sorry, but I rarely "feel" God's presence when I pray, I just go by faith which says, Jesus will never leave or forsake me, and he hears my prayers. Answers to my prayers are also good indicators that they were heard. God more often speaks to us through his more sure word, while we speak to him through prayer. That's the way it works, dear reader, and if you don't like it, well tough cookies! If you think God's way of communicating to us is dry, dull, boring, insipid, stale, or unfulfilling, then you need to be saved!
Let Us Reason
"They invited to the abbey ecumenically oriented Catholic theologians, an Eastern Zen master, Joshu Roshi Sasaki, who offered week long retreats on Buddhist meditation, and a former Trappist, Paul Marechal, who taught transcendental meditation. The interaction between these Christian monks and practitioners of Eastern meditation helped distill the practice of Christian contemplative prayer into a form that could be easily practiced by a diverse array of "non-monastic" believers: priests, nuns, brothers and lay men and women." by Joseph G. Sandman (America Magazine 9/9/00)
Pantheism is the basis of some false religions ideas, and comes to us from eastern mysticism. The belief of pantheism is the way our senses and our emotions force us to respond to the overwhelming mystery and power that surrounds us. Nature is revered, not as a supernatural being per se, with the natural senses. Even though I admit that the sight of billions of stars in the night sky, and the powerful crashing waves of a roaring sea are awe inspiring, it seems a little illogical to worship them. I mean, common sense dictates that creation has a creator. And so, for those outside of pantheism, it isn't that big of a leap to say that pantheism's god IS nature and even, the universe. In Pantheism, the goal is to become one with the universe from which one came, through the process of enlightenment, there is no concept of sin .
Meanwhile, monotheism states that there is only one divine God, a spiritual being with a personality, and he is above and separate from his creation. And he, as creator, is the only God to be worshiped, as he dictates. So when you combine these two diametrically opposed religious views, you get the unholy compromise known as panentheism, which teaches that God physically transcends his creation, but his creation is also IN his mind. Whatever that means. Like I said, it's confusing!
Yes dear reader, panentheism is very challenging to understand! The panentheist sees God in the everyday world, yet God is incomprehensible to the mind, in a way, he is hidden. Another way to look at it is that our outer personality is not God, but God is still in you as your "true identity." This explains why mystics say, "all is one." At the mystical level, they experience this God-force that seems to flow through everything and everybody. Think Star Wars. We learned about The Force through the Jedi knights that this impersonal power permeates and surrounds all things, and you can learn to control it, and the weak minds of others, with it. You can even see the future in visions, but there is a caution about that for the "good guys."
Do you see how they teach that all creation has "God" in it as a living, or vital presence, and it is accessed and experienced with the intuitive mind? It is hidden, you don't know you have it, and some are more gifted than others in using that vital presence. But as Christians we should know that things that are hidden are of the occult, and that's not good. Alarm bells should be going off in the Christian's mind, or a check in the gut should help you see there is something wrong. But because accepting this hybrid of pantheism and monotheism is vital for the contemplative prayer movement to be palatable to western Christians, the easiest victims are the ones who don't spend time in the word of God and in biblical prayer. Here is a sample of their confusing rhetoric:
Ken Kaisch, an Episcopal priest and a teacher of mystical prayer, made this very clear in his book, Finding God, where he noted:
"Meditation is a process through which we quiet the mind and the emotions and enter directly into the experience of the Divine…. there is a deep connection between us … God is in each of us."
However, the Bible teaches us a very different theology. According to Scripture, the truth is that we are all sinners, and everyone of us deserves to experience eternal hell. But by God's mercy and grace, he came to earth born of a virgin, to die in our place. That is our connection, faith in him, and his work, not through meditation. And when we accept his salvation on his terms, we will experience eternal life, not because we are divine, but because he is. We must acknowledge that we are in need of saving; that we are not divine in any way, and therefore unable to save ourselves from sin. We must also rely on him to dispense his Spirit during any encounters as he sees fit, we are not to seek or demand special manifestations from him trough prayer, or any other means. The Bible also teaches that we are to test any and all spirits, to see if they are on the up and up. And we are also told that Satan comes as an angel of light to deceive. We do not have any really good excuses for being deceived, dear reader.
You Will Know Them By Their Fruit
As for God showing his legitimate might to one of his prophets, I think of the anti-climactic event when Elijah went to Horeb seeking God after his huge victory over head witch, Queen Jezebel and her false god Baal. After his epic showdown, Elijah was threatened with death by Jezebel, so he ran and hid, and wanted to die. After the Lord took care of him and nursed him back to physical health, Elijah went on a search for God.
Elijah was shown that the Almighty was not in any powerful experiences of the earthquake, wind, and fire. They were empty of his power and presence even though he was there, and caused these things to happen. But when he spoke in a still small voice, that's when Elijah covered his head in reverence. Now keep in mind that all this time, Elijah did not approach the LORD in contemplative prayer, so why did he hear the LORD's voice? It was because Elijah was pouting, and God needed him to snap out of it and get to work. He was, and is not, like other gods, he is not at our beck and call, we are to be at his beck and call!
The people who brought contemplative prayer to the Church are mystics of monastic orders, not biblical Christians, which forbid marriage, and certain foods to be eaten, two fruits that we are warned about regarding false teachings. Would the Lord allow false teachers to bring legitimate spiritual guidance to his lambs from such people? No! The choice, as always, is yours to make. Will you listen to your flesh and embrace this mystical practice, or will you listen to the Lord and pray as he taught us to pray? Contemplative prayer is a way for the untaught and unskilled in righteousness to connect little stray lambs into communication with demons. This method is not how God communicates and connects with his faithful sheep. Be wise, or be deceived. Amen!