Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer have promoted it. So have Tim Keller, Mike Bickle, Bill and Beni Johnson, and Rick Warren.
Contemplative prayer is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation, but disguised with “Christianese” terminology. Those who participate and enter the silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.
As Ray Yungen has explained, our minds are like rushing rivers. Our thoughts go here, go there, our thought process is active and continuous. In contemplative prayer, Eastern meditation, and New Age meditation, all thought is stilled. The active river of our minds is dammed up–the rushing river is now a still pool of water. This can be done by repeating a word or phrase over and over until thought ceases and one enters the silence.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)
Contemplative teachers in the Christian camp will not advise believers to focus on a repetitive Eastern style mantra like “Ommm” (for example), but rather on a word or phrase like “Jesus” or “Abba Father,” or a scripture verse. In this way, the contemplative prayer appears “Christian” but nevertheless serves as entrance to the silence.
The silence of contemplative prayer is rich ground for false visions, lying “Christs,” and supernatural experiences. This practice can addle or alter theology, and often seems to lead to an inability to distinguish between Catholic teaching on Salvation and the Truth of the Bible. It has also served as a road to interspirituality.
There is a biblical meditation, and we read of it in the Bible. In fact, we are instructed to do this. (Joshua 1:8) In biblical meditation, the Word is pondered and the mind is active and thinking. This can be a wonderful experience with our God.
I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes. (Psalm 119:48)
Some years ago, the contemplatives came up with a brilliant answer to Christians who saw the similarity between contemplative prayer and Eastern and New Age meditation. It was explained that New Age and Eastern practitioners strive to empty the mind whereas Christian contemplatives, on the other hand, seek to fill the mind with God.
This clever marketing ploy has drawn many into the deception of contemplative prayer–which is really not prayer at all.