Rick Warren and Contemplative Prayer

by Mike Ratliff

And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jeremiah 14:14 ESV)

On September 21st, I posted “Is Contemplative Prayer Christian?”. The rest of the discernment team at CRN have been researching and posting on CSM and Contemplative/Centering Prayer or CCP as well. I was listening to an interview on The White Horse Inn the other day done by Michael Horton with Mark Galli who is the senior managing editor of Christianity Today. Most of the interview went well, but right at the end he started talking about Spiritual Formation as if it was something positive. Of course, as he used examples, it was obvious that his understanding of it was nothing like that of someone like Tim Keller whose version is total CSM. I was a bit nonplused I must say because he was so right on with his decrying moral therapeutic deism and the spiritual monstrosities that mega-churches become. Of course, as I thought through that, I think he may have been using the term with a genuine Christian meaning rather than a pseudo-christian meaning like those wolves in sheep’s clothing who are peddling CSM using Christian terminology within it so the gullible will buy into it. Of course, we shall see won’t we? 

Today I got an email from Ken Silva with a link to a post he had just put up titled “Rick Warren Ministry Recommends Mantra Centering Prayer.” You need to read the whole thing and especially watch the video at the end.

Another friend and member of our discernment team at CRN, Cathy Matthews, commented on Pastors.com in regard to Rick Warren’s tweet and his leading into using that mantra/Centering Prayer technique. Here is her comment:

“I used to do this kind of meditation when I was a pagan in the New Age- I felt close to “god” then- but I was dead in my sins. Why are you deceiving people and putting them under bondage by teaching them pagan prayer techniques cloaked in Christian terminology? Any one who is reading this- I urge you to weigh this against scripture. The only way we come into the presence of God is through the blood of Jesus Christ- the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus- by repenting of our own ideas of who God is and how to know Him- and putting your faith in God’s revealed way to know Him. Mystics have to try to use all kinds of techniques because they are blind, they are lost- they either do not know or have rejected the “Way” – the only way to God- which is through Jesus. Look at the way Jesus Himself taught the disciples to pray- he even warned them specifically not to babble (speak words repetitively) like the pagans. Please look into this.” 

I asked Cathy for permission to post her comment and when she gave it she told me that her comment had had still not been posted by whoever moderates their comments. None of us are surprised about that are we?

My brethren, CSM is divination. Our dear brother Bob DeWaay, when he was still pastor at Twin City Fellowship, wrote a great article on this titled The Dangers of Divination. Please take the time to read it. He closed that article, which was written in 2004, with the following:

Divination is forbidden not because it does not work, but because it does. It works to put people in touch with spiritual forces and secret knowledge. The spiritual beings thus accessed have factual information at their disposal that could not be gained through the means God gave us to know spiritual or secret things. This information could make someone very wealthy, or it could destroy them. The evil spirits who dispense this information intend to keep people from coming to God through Messiah. They also seek to deceive Christians into thinking that what has been provided through Christ is insufficient. They are very good at what they do.

Fifteen years ago I was hosting a pastor’s meeting, hoping to appeal to pastors to preach and teach the Bible accurately. A pastor came to the meeting who had recently been to see the Kansas City prophets. I asked him what happened there. His reply was that a prophet had been able to correctly identify his ministry though he had no natural source of this information. I asked how he did so. The answer was that the prophet had the man hold up his hand with his fingers spread. The prophet saw colors emanating from the hand that revealed which of the “five-fold” ministries he had. I said to him, “That is aura reading which is from the occult.” He answered, “God can use anything and besides he was right.”

What was so very wrong about that was that the secret information did nothing other than convince the pastor that Christian aura reading was allowed and that he had met a true prophet. The pastor knew he was a pastor before he went to the prophet, he did not need secret knowledge to show what was known by ordinary means. This is the same sort of procedure that many practitioners of divination use to convince their victims that they have legitimate powers. There are dozens of “Christian” versions of divination being practiced in the church today. The next issue will expose several of them.

What we must do is forsake the lust for secret knowledge and put ourselves under God’s ordained means of grace. God will use His ordained means to give us all the healing and help we are going to get in this life. By submitting to the gospel through faith we are assured of the future resurrection unto eternal life.

We have some very good discussions here at Possessing the Treasure and I have some in my email box as well with other friends about these things and aren’t we often amazed at what is going on? What we are witnessing is supernatural. However, we must not despair. We are in Christ and have the Holy Spirit. As we abide in Christ, we can do the Father’s will. Romans 12:1,2 tells that as we mature in Christ being living sacrifices, being transformed through the renewing of our minds, we will know the will of God and that means we can know what to do. There is no reason to fear. God is Sovereign. It may look like evil is taking over, but I assure you, God has everything totally under control.

Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “Rick Warren and Contemplative Prayer

  1. “Most of the interview went well, but right at the end he started talking about Spiritual Formation as if it was something positive. Of course, as he used examples, it was obvious that his understanding of it was nothing like that of someone like Tim Keller whose version is total CSM. I was a bit nonplused I must say…”

    This is why these terms shouldn’t even be used. You do not find any talk about “spiritual formation” as such in Protestantism until Richard Foster in 1978. This only sows confusion because we cannot “Protestantize” Roman Catholic terms and practices.

    It originated in the RCC so THEY get to define what it is, not Protestants. And how’d that spiritual formation turn out for the RCC, eh. Galli’s squishy anyway, but Dr. Horton should know better.


  2. Pingback: Rick Warren and Contemplative Prayer « Possessing the Treasure | Nail It To The Cross

  3. Required reading in 90+% of “christian colleges” today. Usually starting with Foster’s Celebration of Discipline required for the freshman class. If you are parents of college students, don’t take my word for it, simply go to the campus book store and see for yourself. They don’t hide them at all, and you are paying big bucks for your children to learn this garbage. Raise a stink and your child will be…um…stigamtized!
    What was the percentage of high school seniors who walked away from “church” thanks to this generation of buddies/youth pastors/satanic wedges…and you were able to get them past that so they could go to college at a safe “christian” school costing $30,000 a year, leaving them $50,000 in debt to the Federal Government at 7% interest and a variable rate which will only go up. Oh and did I mention there is now cap rate on these loans which cannot be cleared by bankrupcy? All this while the professors finish off the destruction of their faith which the youth pastor/social change agent didn’t corrupt. Oh, and it is year round thanks to the college and career group they come back to…IF they come back.
    Thankfully they said a sinners prayer and signed a card in “children’s church.”
    Your comfort will come in the verse “train them up in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.” But who did we contract out the “training” to?!?!
    We got a LOT of ground to take back from the enemy now don’t we!?!? Time to humble ourselves, repent, and turn from our wicked way of “doing church.”


  4. I really appreciate you bringing out this information. The body of Christ is in desperate need of Truth. I am sure you have been under attack for exposing error and false/demonic teachings, but please hang in there. I am praying for you. My husband recently preached on election and God choosing us and now he is not allowed to preach at our current church. Heartbreaking, but at least now we know how to pray. The enemy is working overtime. I am getting more informed on issues that I was not aware of. I am a pray-er and when I read these articles about contemplative prayer it is very concerning. When did people start moving away from Gods word and to man for thier guidance and for Truth. God is still on the throne and He is fullfilling His word. Stand firm and waiver not.

    Praying for you
    Your Sis in Christ


  5. You are welcome Leigh. Thanks for your prayers and for sharing that.

    Yes, what began my ostracizing at our old church that eventually led to no one listening to me when I stood against them going Purpose Driven was exactly what your husband did except I did it in my Bible Study class. I was asked a question about election and tried to answer it. I spent the next hour in a heated debate with two guys who did all they could to talk so loud no one could hear me. Isn’t that demonic? In any case, afterward, my pastor and the rest of the leadership wanted me to back off of that position, but how can you back off of what the BIble clearly teaches? During that “debate” all I did was read scripture. I inserted no commentary whatsoever.


  6. Words have meanings and Christians have an obligation before God to speak Truth – to one another and the world. When we decline to explain theological terms that are the most accurate way to describe justification, for example, we do a disservice to sheep and God. When we use phrases from the occult to describe Christian doctrine, we confuse people and lead them to explore those phrases without being put on guard – being therefore all the more susceptible to deception and the danger of grave consequences.

    In my previous church, a “pastor” flatly declared that that church was and always would be “seeker sensitive”. As I pressed him on this point, he defined “seeker sensitive” in a way that would case nobody much alarm – completely different from its common usage. He said he wanted us to be welcoming to folks who are not Christians when they come to church. But everything he and the church did reflected the common use and application of this phrase.

    Truth – simple and unsophisticated – guards the speaker and the hearer.


  7. Mike – I concluded it was a lowest common denominator, period. Not convinced it was Christianity at all – merely an adoration of man clothed in Christian-speak.


  8. So the devil and his minions masquarade as angels of light. If our Father doesn’t shorten the time even the elect would be deceived (if possible). …The patience of the saints…Perservere to the end will be saved…Setting himself up to be worshipped as god…The Ekklesia clearly being shown as those called of God from the foundation of the earth, placed there by His Work through the Holy Spirit. The Way the Truth and the Life being the “narrow road.” Few find…yet there is a broad road to destruction that MANY enter in by…Can we not see this for what it is, a beast religion decoying the weak minded self rightious own works masses, to a man centered man made perfect world orchestrated by Satan. This leaves the little flock called of God to always be on the defensive against the accuser of the elect. Which Jesus, and the disciples called the persecution which they told us would be for our cleansing. Here is just one more example of the Trojan Horse known as Emerging Church! http://herescope.blogspot.com/ C.Peter Wagner.
    Their god is money, which is a tool or a master, yet it is a creation of this world, and this world is under the sway of the evil one. The evil one has lots of it at his disposal, and there are lots of people who can be bought and sold for a price.
    As long as we look at systems as “the church” instead of the biblical Ekklesia where the greatest are humble and meek enough to be servants of all as they elder/shepherd/guide the new in the faith, we will be sleeping virgins foolish enough to have our focus on the earthly, and off of the heavenly. Even the wise virgins were asleep, as the Watchman announced Behold, the Bridegroom commeth! Again, wheat/tares, good/wicked servants, sheep/goats, wise/foolish virgins, servants who lead by serving/top of the pyramid nicolaitan preacher/elder/bishop/evangelist/prophet for profits. It is time to gut the profit centers of their deceptive gains by defunding them. God put His resources in your hands for a reason, and we will be held accountable for what we did or did not do. Study the “tithe” for yourselves…ask for the key to the storehouse so you can see for yourselves how poor we really are. It is skinny cow times folks, and you and I are accountable!


  9. Mike, not to take away from the discussion, but it is so true, scripture is so clear. My hubby just preached the word and people got very angry. We couldnt get over the hostility. The pastor wanted him to get in front of the church and retract what he preached about God choosing us and election. My husband got in front of the church but did not retract. He told the congretation he was preaching the word and if they had issue to come to him. So my husband no longer preaches there. He is currently in seminary and his Greek professor affirmed him and told him that he preached Gods word exactly right. That he would probably be in the minority and to just stand firm. This is why I so appreciate you and your ministry. You are uncompromising with the Truth and do not turn to the right or to the left. You keep you eyes focused on the Lord and His word. I know in the days in which we live it is getting harder but the reward will be great. God is well pleased with you.

    Once again thank you so much for standing firm in Gods word.


  10. Thanks for sharing that Leigh. Yes, when you get into the Greek and you refuse to compromise there is nowhere to go but the way your husband went and I rejoiced when I read that. There is a reward for those who stand firm in face of those hate the truth, but preach it anyway. Be blessed in the Lord my sister!


  11. Leigh;
    Northwestern Pa. has 4 beautiful seasons and no preacher who won’t compromise. The downside is there are few folks who will endure sound doctrine either. Let me know if you are lead to plant a part of the body Jesus is building in this neck of the wilderness. I know of a few good families who are waiting patiently for the Lord’s man for here.
    Mickey Merrie


  12. Amen, when we are called to the Lord it must be spiritually and as he is in reality, not as he is in these imagined new age zen Buddhist practises from within oursleves but externally. The lord is not there but the devils are. We only need the Bible, the Gospel, the Evangel and the Apostles doctrine with no add ons.


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