Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Theological Fog

While perusing another blog* recently, I encountered a topic I hadn't really heard much about. It was something called "centering prayer". From what I could glean, I guess it's an attempt by some to bring New Age-type practices into the realm of Christianity. It's a practice of clearing one's mind of all outside distractions, and focusing in on self. It's supposedly a way to prepare for prayer. I read enough of the links she provided to get a little better understanding of "centering prayer." But then she took a U-turn on me.

She began interchanging the terms "centering prayer" and "contemplative prayer". Something didn't ring true with this. I talked to my husband about it some, because he is more familiar with theological terms. I also asked another blogger, who blogs about theological matters, if he could do a post on contemplative prayer. Upon seeing my request, yet another blogging buddy (Hidden One) suggested an article on contemplative prayer. That article helped me understand it all a bit more clearly.

Contemplative prayer has been a practice since the early days of Christianity. In contrast to "centering" prayer, though, contemplative prayer focuses on God, His Word, and shutting ourselves in with Him, as He reveals Himself and our own hearts to us (see Matthew 6:6; Psalm 139--especially vs. 23, 24; Psalm 26:2). Holy men and women of God throughout the ages have known that a time of meditating on God's Word, praying for His Spirit to search them, and being in a place of quiet were imperative when it came to truly drawing nearer to God.

The first blogger I mentioned went on to post later that prayer is simply us talking to God. We cannot expect God to speak to us, other than that He speaks through His Word. According to her belief, He speaks no more. I was not the only one who questioned this line of thinking, as even Scripture indicates that we are to seek God's direction in prayer. It also made me wonder how the early Christians had direction from God, since the Bible was not canonized for quite some time. They had to rely on the scriptures of the Old Testament, the teachings of the Apostles, and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

I finally had to make the decision to stay out of the fray. Any comments I left were either ignored or seen as being critical of her stand. (The link I provided to the aforementioned article was seen as "too Catholic". Sorry about that. I AM Catholic! :o) ) Truly, though, any posts I left were typed out of concern. It bothered me that this dear woman thought that she cannot hear from God, other than what she reads in her Bible. So does this mean we hear nothing from a sermon? We hear no words of wisdom from other believers? We are not to be led by the voice of God's Holy Spirit, whom Jesus left for us (to guide us into all truth)? Of course, anything must be tested by Scripture. God would never direct us in a way that contradicts His Word.

I guess this has all just left me in a bit of a haze...a theological fog, if you will.

I appreciate all thoughts and insights. I certainly did not want to antagonize this blogger. But it made me wonder what others might have to say on the issue? So, feel free to chime in!

*I have purposely chosen not to reveal the blog or blogger here. I felt this was best.

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