Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14, NASB)

Prayer Rooms And “Visual Aids” For What Kind Of Prayer?

The recent article in the Baptist Press quoted below tells us that at the “annual meeting” of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis this coming year prayer “is news”:

This year’s prayer emphasis at the Southern Baptist Convention has been boosted by the efforts of Indianapolis-area pastors who have caught a vision of what can happen when people spend more time praying.

At last year’s meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, a first-of-its-kind prayer room featured videos, maps and other visual aids along with Bible verses, specific requests and journals to facilitate prayer. The room was filled throughout the annual meeting, and the results were overwhelming, Dale Eakes, this year’s SBC prayer team coordinator, told Baptist Press. (Online source)

Apprising Ministries is quick to exhort Christians on to make use of the greatest weapon God has given His children—the prayers of faithful saints. And we certainly don’t frown on using certain kinds of media and/or methods to encourage people in prayer. That said however, there is great concern when we hear Eakes go on to tell us, “Churches are discovering more creative and innovative ways to incorporate prayer into their congregations,…”

The question you need to be asking at this point is: Exactly what types of “creative and innovative ways” are we talking about? That’s because we have observed the rapid infestation of neo-pagan methods such Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, which was not a part of Christ’s teachings or that of His Apostles, currently spreading like a cancer throughout the evangelical community.

Contemplative/Centering Prayer Was Not Taught By Christ Or His Apostles

It’s critical that you come to understand this Gnostic mysticism was not a part of the historic orthodox Christian faith but rather was actually culled from false Eastern religions and then flowered through the monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. Do you not think it’s a problem in the American Christian Church, then consider the following from the 2008 Zondervan National Pastors Conference (NPC).

Pastors who would attend were encouraged to avail themselves of a “special overnight retreat” where, with the help of “The Transforming Center leaders,” they could “experience God’s transforming presence” (Online source). Apparently this is something we second-rate Christians are simply unable to do without the help of these enlightened spiritual gurus and swamis.

And just who was the “featured speaker” and teacher among these Transforming Center Roshis? Ruth Haley Barton; who is:

a spiritual director, teacher and retreat leader trained through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Bethesda, Maryland). Educated at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Illinois) and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (Lombard, Illinois), Ruth has served on the pastoral staff of several churches, including Willow Creek Community Church. (Online source, emphasis mine)

The Shalem Institute is run by Tilden Edwards, who in his book Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction confirms to us where this Gnostic contemplative mysticism came from, as well as where it will take you. First though, as must all mystics, Edwards criticizes and attempts to undermine “scripturally informed faith” based in rational thought, which he laments “helped pave the way for the Reformation’s ‘justification by faith alone’ ” (18).

For you see, the practioners of contemplative mysticism know that the exclusivity of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ is one huge roadblock to their interspiritual meditation powwows. Then Edwards tells us that his:

mystical stream is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality (and to that of Sufi Moslems and some Hassidic Jews in the West as well). The Zen warning not to confuse the pointing finger…for the moon to which it points is a saying that a Christian mystic easily understands.

It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians. (19, emphasis mine)

Contemplative Mysticism Grew In Antibiblical Monasticism

Resisting the urge to wrestle with the serpent here and staying on the point of this piece—which is that quite often these “Prayer Rooms” are rooted in the so-called “spiritual disciplines” of contemplative “Christian” monks—here I will only point out that 1) these “monks,” such as Thomas Merton, were/are apostate. And 2), according to the “scripturally informed faith,” which mystics like Edwards try so hard to rid the world of, their contemplative “counterparts” in other religions do not worship God.

We know this with certainty because the Lord forbids His true children to have these interspiritual worship sessions and for very good reason. As it is written:

Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:19-21)

At this point you might be asking: What does this have to do with the Southern Baptist Convention? Plenty. In SBC Embraces Emergent Church and Contemplative Spirituality I have already showed you that this contemplative mysticism runs much deeper into the Slowly Becoming Catholic then many know. For example, as of this writing one can go to Lifeway Christian Stores (LCS)—a arm of the SBC that was once called the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention—and buy books by Spiritual Director Guru Ruth Haley Barton.

Say for instance, her book called Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence (ISS), which is published by InterVarsity Press, a financial supporter of Emergent Village. You’ll recognize that this was also the theme of the pastor’s retreat at NPC 2008 that I was drawing to your attention above. ISS also happens to have a foreword from Dallas Willard, who is a close associate of the Head Guru of Contemplation himself, Living Spiritual Teacher Richard Foster.

Although the blurb below is cut off on their website LCS informs us:

Ruth Haley Barton invites you to meet God deeply and fully outside the demands and noise of daily life. She leads you on a journey toward freedom and authenticity, toward beco [sic] (Online source)

Here’s the rest of the “Book Description” at, which LCS is quoting from: “…ming the person God created you to be” (Online source). Now it’s pretty safe to say we are dealing with a positive recommendation when you are being told that this book facilitates your “becoming the person God created you to be.”

Silence And Solitude Refers To Neo-Pagan Meditation in Christian Terms

As you can also see there is no warning whatsoever from LCS about the aberrational and heretical theology within Barton’s ISS. From my personal copy of this book by Roshi Barton I can tell you that it’s chock full of the contemplative mysticism discussed above and which I also cover in my piece Meditating on Contemplative/Centering Prayer. And with titles by many contemplative authors available at LCS we have clear evidence that Gnostic mysticism is indeed already easily found within this arm of the rapidly apostatizing SBC.

In her chapter of ISS entitled “Rest for the Mind” [read: shutting off the mind] Barton tells us in that in “silence,” which is how mystics often refer to their meditation:

we begin to recognize that a lot of our God-talk is like the finger that points to the moon. The finger that points to the moon is not the moon. Pointing to the moon, talking about the moon, involving ourselves in study and explanation about how the light of the moon is generated is not the same thing as sitting in the moonlight,… (74,75).

Do you remember Tilden Edwards talking about this above; although Barton doesn’t mention him here as the source of this particular bit of mystic “wisdom.” However, in the notes to this chapter she tells us that contemplative teacher and apostate Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr. “introduced this metaphor of the moon and the finger pointing to it in his book Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” (141).

Interestingly enough, another teacher beginning to make some serious inroads into the SBC through his Nooma videos, often shown at Youth Groups, is Emergent Church icon Rob Bell. And as I show you in Rob Bell In A Nutshell: Contemplative Mysticism he is also a practitioner and teacher of these same so-called “disciplines.” And you’ll see within the above piece that Bell also recommends this very book of Rohr’s mystic musings to one of his disciples.

And finally, as it pertains to why we have very good reason to seriously question what type of prayer is being encouraged in these “prayer rooms,” I point you to the AM article Spiritual Formation Survey and Contemplative Prayer in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (SBC). Therein you will see that this SBC Baptist State Convention of North Carolina makes no effort at all to hide their out and out endorsement of this antibiblical contemplative mystic mumbo jumbo.

I have also personally been in contact with a number of SBC pastors and ministers who have seen this same Spiritual Formation in their own seminary courses. And often this contemplative mystical approach to the Christian faith is couched under the name “Spiritual Formation.” But as soon as you check the sources as to whose teachings are being used suddenly up pops the usual suspects of this spiritual cyanide: Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton.

And these above are only the ones referenced in Barton’s book ISS alone, which I just showed you is recommended to Southern Baptists by Lifeway of the allegedly “Protestant” Southern Baptist Convention as a legitimate way to “meet God deeply and fully outside the demands and noise of daily life…on a journey toward freedom and authenticity”. When in reality, steeped as it is in religious bondage from the fertile imaginations of apostate and unbelieving Roman Catholic mystics, this neo-pagan contemplative mysticism only leads people right back into beliefs and practices which would become the very cause of the Reformation in the first place.

All the more reason you need to ask: What kind of prayer is being encouraged in these SBC “prayer rooms”?