Updated October 22nd, 2021- I’ve added a clarification from Marcia Montenegro about the phrase “emptying the mind.” Since this clarification, I’ve added a little more explanation when I say “emptying the mind” like detaching the self and silencing the mind. THANK YOU, MARCIA!
Is it okay to empty our minds (reaching a state of nothingness) in order to hear the still, small voice from God? What is Christian mysticism and why is it a problem? How does Eastern religion influence these “Christian practices?”
If you’re like me, you might be familiar with some of the practices more than the terms. You might know the phrase, “still, small voice,” but unfamiliar with the context. You might be confused, “Wait, what is emotionalism, Christian mysticism, and these other terms? Why aren’t you focusing on the Gospel and Christ?”
Some Things To Consider
Last week, I covered emotionalism and its dangers for Christians. See: Should We Use Our Emotions As Truth? Basically, emotionalism means we use our emotions to discern what is true over the Bible. The reason why I am covering these topics is because these deceptions distort the Gospel and Christ. They sink into the church unknown, just as scripture warns.
(ESV) Acts 20:29, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
Wolves are blending in as sheep. Their teachings will not appear as toxic unless you know what to look for. This is why we need to know our Bibles and we need to know the context of scripture.
Unfortunately, Christian mysticism is anything but what the Bible tells us to do. It is all about using our emotions and experiences as truth over what the Bible says. Which is why I began this series.
It’s really important to understand how emotionalism has a role in Contemplative Prayer and Christian mysticism, in general. So, if you haven’t read my post, and you are unfamiliar with emotionalism, I highly recommend checking out the emotionalism post first.
Some points I want to answer in today’s post.
-How do emotional problems relate to Contemplative Prayer?
-What is Contemplative Spirituality?
–What is Contemplative Prayer?
–What are the roots of Contemplative Prayer?
-How do these two relate to Christian mysticism?
–What is Christian mysticism by definition?
-What are the problems in emptying your mind?
–What are gnosticism and listening prayers?
-How should we pray? What should our prayer life involve?
HEADS UP! This topic can go really deep. The resources I use I HIGHLY recommend, especially Marcia Montenegro’s posts. I will not go as deep regarding founding fathers of Contemplative Prayer, the state of consciousness people try to achieve in CP, and some other techniques. My post is to try to introduce you on a lighter level, if you are completely new to the topic. But all resources I use, or even briefly looked at, will be available for you to check out.
I tried to use a ton of headers to help you out. I hope this is useful. 🙂
I recommend checking out these videos by Melissa Dougherty:
– The Secret Sin Invading Christianity
– Spiritual Damage from Spiritual Encounters
What Is Contemplative Spirituality?
First, let’s cover Contemplative Spirituality because this is the goal of Contemplative Prayer.
Contemplative Spirituality is to seek God through meditation (not Biblical meditation, but Eastern meditation, I’ll explain). The goal of Contemplative Spirituality is to experience God. This is typically encouraged in the emergent church movement. This deals with post-modernism, which focuses on experience over logic. Subjective over objective truth. Again, please see my post on emotionalism for a deeper explaination.
Got Questions covered both Contemplative Spirituality & Prayer. In their article covering Contemplative Spirituality, they give a great definition explaining mysticism.
“Mysticism is the belief that knowledge of God, spiritual truth, and ultimate reality can be gained through subjective experience. This emphasis on experiential knowledge erodes the authority of Scripture.”What is contemplative spirituality? (2006, July 19). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-spirituality.html
What Is Contemplative Prayer
Contemplative Prayer is to detach the self, through silencing the mind, and basically wiping our identity, in order to experience God, be filled by the Spirit, and to obtain new knowledge.
Contemplative Prayer involves (but this is not limited to):
- Breath prayers – using a word or phrase in a breath and repeat to center or relax the self- See this article by Marcia Montenegro, under the heading “Beyond Natural: Special Spiritual Techniques”– more resources below
- Centering self – see Got Questions Centering Prayer – the goal is to focus on being relaxed
- Holding particular postures
- Breathing techniques
- Emptying self, silencing the mind and detaching self – to be blank, have no thoughts
The overall goal of Contemplative Prayer is to experience God and to receive knowledge from God. Contemplative prayer experiences God through emptying the mind or detaching yourself from regular thoughts, and listening in silence in order to reach a state of nothingness. No Bible reading. No actual prayers. Pure experience and emotional discernment.
Does this sound like yoga to anyone? It should because it is rooted in Eastern religion, NOT the Bible.
Roots of Contemplative Prayer
Marcia Montenegro has a great article on Contemplative Prayer over at Christian Answers for the New Age (great blog, check it out). She digs into the roots of what she calls CP, and what I will refer to as “CP” from now on.
In her article on Contemplative Prayer, Marcia explains how CP stems from Buddhism and Hinduism. It focuses on words like detachment, emptiness, and awakening. There is no focus on words, but rather silence. When single words are used, like mantras, they are not used to pray to God, but moreso to empty the mind and relax the self. Similar to when people make sounds while doing yoga, the goal is to empty the mind, to reach a hypnotic state in order to receive knowledge. Mantras are used to self-purify.
*Clarification – Marcia’s Explanation About Emptying The Mind: I spoke to Marcia and she explains she does not like using the pharse, “Emptying of the mind.” She shared this with me, “I do not use the term “emptying the mind” to describe Eastern meditation because it is not really accurate. I usually say it suspends thinking or stops thoughts which is really the goal as Buddhism puts it (though not always in those words). The actual goal of doing that is to dissociate from one’s thoughts so that one sees those thoughts are not yours and not who you are. Then it goes on from there to other realizations.” So, emptying the mind, is definitely more of how I’ve come to understand CP, but it’s really about detaching the self from thoughts, to reach a state of nothingness. I’ve since added some edits to help clarify this.
And speaking of self-purifying and reaching a state of nothingness.
As Marcia shares, Zen Buddhists teach that truth is reached through a deep meditation – reaching a state of nothingness in the mind to transcend rational thinking.
Friends, did you catch that?
“Transcend rational thinking.” – This is really important to CP.
The founding teachers of CP believe that we need to tap in our “true-self” which is found in an altered conscious state. The current state, our rational thinking state, is not our true self, and therefore we need to rid ourselves of it.
Please note, the Bible does not support this, at all. We are made in the image of God and we were made to USE, not detach and silence our minds.
Danger Of Silencing & Detaching The Mind
Marcia explains this mindset in the second page of her article and also in a separate article where she covers Thomas Keating’s teaching more in-depth. Keating is part of the founding teachers regarding CP. Marcia shares in her article, covering a session of Keating, the danger of what it means to silence your mind.
“Allowing one’s mind to go into this state of not thinking (which is not the same state as daydreaming or sleeping) is a form of mild hypnosis. In such a state, one is very suggestible; critical thinking skills and judgment are suspended in this state.”Thomas Keating Lecture. (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_KeatingLecture.html
When we pass over what is rational thinking, we become very vulnerable in our mind. This is why when Doreen interviewed Pastor Chris Quintana about Contemplative Prayer, he said people are often encouraged to say a prayer of protection before they begin. People are not only in danger of being taken advantage of and manipulated by others, but also by engaging with other spirits, who could do much worse. Marcia also agrees, as she shares Keating does discuss how during this state of “pure-consciousness ” people can experience levitation and other psychic things.
In discussing Richard Foster, Marcia shares a similar concern as Pastor Chris.
“Foster even warns about silent CP, saying that it is for more mature believers, that “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” where we may encounter “spiritual beings” who are not on God’s side. He suggests a prayer of protection in which one surrounds himself with “the light of Christ,” saying “all dark and evil spirits must now leave,” and other words to keep evil ones at bay.”Contemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 1 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html
God never tells us to enter the spiritual realm in prayer. We never see scripture tell us to pray for protection before we begin to “pray.” The reason is simply… we do not have to. God does not require us to do all of this “work” to get closer to Him. But CP teaches you have to do all of this work.
The reason why this blank hypnotic state is so dangerous is because the goal is to reach alpha-brain waves, which is similar to a state of drunkenness, as Doreen described it.
Emptying the mind (silencing and detaching self-thinking) leads to:
-not being able to guard yourself, which scripture tells us TO guard our heart. (Proverbs 4:23)
-a drunk-like state
-no critical skills for thinking
-experiencing the psychic realm and not being able to discern logically, only through emotions
Seeking Special Knowledge From God
Now, I haven’t really touched on this yet, but you might recall part of the goal of Contemplative Prayer is to receive knowledge from God. If this sounds like secret knowledge, it is because this knowledge is not found in scripture, but outside of scripture from an experience.
Similarly, Gnosticism is about secret knowledge that is found on a higher level, usually through meditation. I recommend this article on Gnosticism by Got Questions. They break down how it isn’t Christian and the heresy of Gnosticism that the early Church faced.
I would say there is another type of prayer in which Christians can try to receive knowledge from God, and we might not think it’s related to Gnosticism, but it is a type of “secret knowledge.” I admit, I fully did this in the past.
Commonly today, many people listen to the voice in their mind and they dub it as “God.” These types of prayers are referred to as “listening prayers” in which we speak, and then God speaks in our mind or in the world around us. I used to do this. Beth Moore is well known for doing this, but of course, she is not the only one. It’s really easy to fall into this way of thinking, but it isn’t Biblical.
Got Questions explains why these types of listening prayers are problematic.
“But the “nudges,” “feelings,” intuitions, and random thoughts a person has while meditating cannot be put on the same level as Scripture. To assume that the voice a person hears in his mind is the voice of God is to leave the door wide open for self-delusion and even demonic deception.”What is listening prayer? (2015, November 14). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/listening-prayer.html
The argument that I used to use and many people still use today is, “Well, I’m not saying that this (experience) of what God has said or shown me is the same as scripture.”
The problem is that God’s authority, His word, is NEVER lowered. If God speaks, it’s the same as scripture. No arguments.
These Types of Prayers Hinder Us From Drawing Close To Christ
We don’t have to necessarily follow all of the steps of Contemplative Prayer in order to follow deceiving practices, like listening prayers. But the reality is more and more proclaimed Christians believe these practices are okay, Christian in nature, and they draw us to Jesus Christ. However, these prayers do the complete opposite.
Contemplative Prayers & The Like:
– have us trust our emotions and experiences, which are subjective, over objective truth
– these prayers do not line up with scripture, and therefore God will not draw close to us
– these prayers are from Eastern religions, not the Church
– these prayers are focused on making US feel good about ourselves
– these prayers seek out affirmations about our salvation through emotions and experiences over what scripture says we should look for – example, I believe since I “receive messages from God” and “feel” connected to Him, then I must be saved.
– these prayers can experience influencing spirits and we are not to partake of divination (Deuteronomy 18:14)
God tells us in His word that one of the ways we love Him is with all of our mind. But this practice completely throws that in God’s face. Instead, it says to silence what God gave us. It says to trust ourselves and random spirits, as long as we have a protection prayer.
How can we trust anything of ourselves when the goal is to reach a hypnotic state that transcends rational thinking? This is a practice that loves self more than Christ. The individual may not intend that, but this practice encourages pride, lack of self-control, has no genuine respect for God and how Christ teaches us how to pray.
A genuine prayer life:
- involves Bible reading, a meditation of chewing on what the scripture says, actively thinking about God’s word
- praising God for being God, give Him the glory
- praying for others, for the world, for self, self-examination
- thanking the Lord for all of the kind blessings He gives everyday
- involves words, words, and more words
- involves critical thinking
- involves active thought about what God is doing in our life, what His word says, where we fall short, what the Gospel message is about and how much we need Jesus every second
- involves repenting of sin, acknowledging sin, asking for help with our sins and short-comings, and THANKING Him for the cross
- asks for help against temptations, and to receive convictions from the Holy Spirit
- praying for people who have sinned against us, their salvation, and prayer of exposing potential seeds of our own darkness we might be sowing because of these issues.
- some prayers may be longer than others, some may be shorter. Prayer is not meant to be as ritualistic as some of the prayers you’ve read about today.
- we can repeat the same requests, but not in a robotic manner, not for the purpose to soothe ourselves. If you think of a situation, a person, or something you’re struggling through, lift it up to Jesus and pray about it, and do this throughout the day, if you can. Prayer is important. It’s okay to give God the same requests if you or someone else is going through something.
The focus of prayer is Jesus Christ. It’s not about us gaining anything. We already have gained everything through the One who died on the cross and resurrected, imputing His righteousness to us, and adopting us as His own children, for all who put their faith in Him.
Our walk with Jesus is active, not empty. There will always be something we can pray for. Always.
See: Matthew 6:09-13 (The Lord’s prayer) Matthew 6:05-08 (When you pray) Ephesians 6:18 & Philippians 4:06 (Pray always, with all kinds of prayers and petitions) Mark 12:30 (We love the Lord with all of our mind, heart, soul, and strength)
This is a great quote to sum up Contemplative Prayer by Marcia Montenegro.
“Creating a whole theology of prayer apart from the Bible is dangerous, precisely because we are entering an area fraught with subjectivism, truth based on experience, and therefore, an area where we can be deceived. CP teachers tell us that prayer is listening to and having “divine union” with God, but the Bible presents prayer as words and thoughts. CP tells us to focus inward, but the Bible admonishes us to focus outward on the Lord. An evaluation of CP reveals it to be a melange of New Age and Eastern-tinged techniques and concepts that exist outside the Bible.” – Marcia MontenegroContemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 3 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer3.html
(ESV) 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
God’s word, not our own works, experiences, or emotions, but the Lord and His word is enough.
Believe it or not, I still have some more material covering the still, small voice, but I am going to leave that for a separate post. I really hope today’s post has been informative and helpful to you.
And also, as I follow Marcia Montenegro, she recently posted about how if people are into contemplative practices the Enneagram is close by. If you hadn’t checked out my post that shares an interview Marcia did about the Enneagram, you might want to check it out: Enneagram Hidden Truth (Marcia Montenegro)
To view the full series on Christian Mysticism (this is post #2)
- Post #1 Should We Use Our Emotions As Truth? | What Is Emotionalism?
- Post #3 The Still Small Voice | Problems With People Speaking As “Jesus”
- Post #4 Christian Mysticism | Are We Putting God In A Box?
Some other links I didn’t use, but are helpful:
Breath Prayers by IHOP is New Age, a fellow WP blogger
What Is Quietism by Got Questions
Mystical Nonsense in the Church of the Nazarene by Reformed Nazarene, a fellow WP blogger – He covers Rick Warren and how Rick Warren promotes “breath prayers.”
The Spiritual Damage from Spiritual Encounters by Melissa Dougherty
“Abide in Me” = Breath Prayers? by Marcia Montenegro
“Just Breathe: The Age of Magical Breathing” by Marcia Montenegro
“Is Breathing Prayer? And a look at pray without ceasing” by Marcia Montenegro
“Breath work and its trick” by Marcia Montenegro
Mysticism: The Deadly Dangers of Trusting Experiences Over Biblical Authority by Justin Peters
Contemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 1 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html
Contemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 2 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer2.html
Contemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 3 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer3.html
Thomas Keating Lecture. (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_KeatingLecture.html
Virtue, D. (2020, April 22). Why “Contemplative Prayer” Is A Dangerous New Age Mystical Practice. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tszjdXVpCLI
What is centering prayer? (2006, July 19). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/centering-prayer.html
What is Christian gnosticism? (n.d.). Gotquestions.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-gnosticism.html
What is contemplative prayer? (n.d.). Gotquestions.Org. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html
What is contemplative spirituality? (2006, July 19). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-spirituality.html
What is the emerging / emergent church movement? (2014, June 17). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/emerging-church-emergent.html
What is listening prayer? (2015, November 14). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/listening-prayer.html
Scripture To Memorize/Meditate On – (ESV) Romans 5:08, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
*To learn more about what Jesus did on the cross and why His atonement sacrifice is so needed please see: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)
*If you do not know the Gospel, do not turn away. If you think you know the Gospel, check out these questions and see how prepared you are for the day someone might ask you why you believe: The Gospel Challenge (30 Question Quiz) – Are You Ready To Defend Your Faith?
Community Prayer – October, 2021
Topics & Series Previously Covered On Inside Cup
Personal Blog: Peeking Beneath
Blog For Christian Women: UnAshamed Christian Housewife
Godly Men & Women I Recommend: Link To List
Resources For False Teaching: Recommended Websites For False Teachers/Teaching
Video Playlist: Christian Questions, Topics, False Teachers, Insights
Video Playlist: New Christian Believer
Video Playlist: Understanding False Teachings
Video Playlist: Sermons To Grow From
6 thoughts on “Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality | What You Need To Know About That “Still, Small Voice””
I absolutely agree with what you’ve said about CP and the challenges it creates in church, particularly how it is currently moving. However, from what you’ve said above you imply God can only speak through scripture. It is dangerous tto limit God in such a way as it indicates it is the only way we will allow Him to speak. Scripture is full of God speaking and not only through figures hearing Him through the words on their pages of scripture. I absolutely agree though that we have to test what we think He is saying by putting it against scripture – listening blindly opens us to easily being led astray. We are a people who believes we are led and filled by the Holy Spirit, therefore we have to be listening for His direction, discipline, encouragement, leading, both through scripture and through our experiences, thoughts and emotions. Those things are part of what God created, part of who He made us. Scripture admonishes us to listen if we have ears! That’s not to say we follow only emotions, or only logic, reason, and rational thought, as that would be exceptionally dangerous too. Emotions can easily lead us astray into subjective personal views of truth. Rationalism can lead us astray into beliefs that the Holy Spirit is obsolete. The entire person God created us to be needs to be engaged in actively pursuing God, as He pursues us. Our entire being has to love God, as He loves us. Our entire being is needed to allow the Spirit to move in our lives. Scripture is our guide, absolutely, and any form of Christianity that sidelines it completely in search of experience is worrying. But we should also be expecting God to speak, our prayer must allow God to enter, rather than merely dictating a long list of wants, needs and demands that we bring to God. Prayer must also be about relationship with a living God. Christian meditation, of mulling scripture over in the mind, is part of that allowing God to speak. But so is seeing a sunset and being amazed by God’s power, majesty, and creativity! Scripture is not the only thing that can bring us to our knees in reverence of a Almighty God, yet one who is with us! I don’t believe eaving your brain at the door is the answer, far from it, He gave us a brain to use. But I do believe in a God who speaks… the question is whether I am listening and hearing?
I wanted to make sure I responded properly to you, so I took a few days to consider your words, pray, and consider what scripture says. By no means do I expect my response to immediately change your perspective, but I hope at least it helps you understand where I am coming from.
I appreciate your concern that I stay away from practicing something that is dangerous. I see you value the Lord and you want to understand Him in every way possible. I very much respect that.
You see, this is my goal, too. To understand and listen to the Lord in the best way. I used to share your thoughts. We shouldn’t put God in a box. I believed He spoke to us outside of scripture many times. I believed I “saw” Him everywhere.
I was also very big into dreams, symbols, and reading things into scripture. So, as long as an experience or feeling didn’t seem to go against scripture, I thought, “It must be God communicating to me.” As you can understand, however, just because something may not go against scripture, does not mean we are actually experiencing God, either.
I relied very heavily on these experiences and feelings that I believed were the Lord. I thought He answered me in my thoughts. The problem was I started to use these experiences as a way to affirm my salvation in Jesus Christ. I thought if I did not experience something that I believed was God, then He must be distant. Something must be wrong. Honestly, I relied more on these experiences than scripture. (At the time, I treated the Bible like a magic 8 ball. I did not read through books. I read parts of chapters. I did not understand the context of scripture. I twisted scripture to make scripture about myself, even if it had nothing to do with me. But I did not realize I was doing this.)
Just wanted to give a little background in case you were not familiar with my story.
Before responding to your comment – I make a number of “you statements” at the beginning of many paragraphs. The purpose is to clarify what you mentioned in your comment and I’m responding to those statements of yours. It’s not meant to be passive. 🙂
You mentioned it’s dangerous to limit God in how we allow Him to speak.
Personally, I think it’s dangerous to think we give God permission on whether or not He speaks. We do not have such an authority over God. Any time in scripture God wanted to be revealed or listened to, scripture says it happened, whether or not the people wanted Him to speak to them. We do not restrain God. We do not have to worry about ever restraining God. If He wants to be heard, we have full promise He will be heard.
You are so right. God used people in scripture. He spoke to them audibly. It’s important to look at the purpose of why He spoke to people. In the Old Testament, it was all about the Messiah. In the New Testament, few people were spoken to (just like the Old Testament) and it was for the purpose to further the spread of the Gospel and the Church. John penning the Revelation of Jesus was to point us to His Advent. The Bible is all about Jesus, which is awesome.
Few people were spoken to in the Bible. I’m not sure where we got the assumption He speaks to so many outside of the scripture.
You mentioned, “We have to test what we think God is saying…”
Now, we both agree we are to test everything in the light of scripture. But nowhere in scripture do we have anyone who hears from God ever wonder, “I think this was God?”
Anytime God spoke, He was heard. No one questioned it. Nowhere in scripture do we have someone experience, feel, or think something and wonder, “Was this God?” It was either God or it was not. There was no inbetween.
You mentioned, “We are a people who believe we are led and filled by the Holy Spirit, therefore we have to be listening for His direction, discipline, encouragement, leading, both through scripture and through our experiences, thoughts and emotions.”
Scripture, which we both agree we need to hold up everything to, seems to disagree with this statement. (ESV) 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
The Holy Spirit who inspired this scripture says a man is made complete and equipped for every good work through scripture. The Holy Spirit does not say we need to be listening through our experiences, thoughts, or emotions. We just need scripture, it is sufficient and enough.
You said we must pursue the Lord in all things, and I agree. Scripture explains to us how we are to do that in our life.
When you say we should “expect God to speak,” can you give a scriptural reference that says we should “expect” God to speak to us outside of scripture? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (see above) seems to challenge this.
You mentioned our entire being is needed for the Spirit to be allowed to move. Again, I think the word allow is dangerous. For everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ, believing in His death and resurrection, sees their need for the Savior, seeks His forgiveness and repents has the promise of the Holy Spirit. They receive the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is not limited. It is the Holy Spirit who points us to sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 16:08). The Holy Spirit points us back to Jesus Christ through His teachings in scripture, and through the teachings of others in scripture.
You stated we must allow God to enter our prayer. Again, we do not have such authority. Those who are regenerated in Jesus Christ have the promise the Lord hears them. God is already with them, He is not separated. They do not have to do anything else except have faith in Christ to communicate with the Lord.
You mentioned you’re against contemplative prayer, yet, you speak of opening ourselves up to God and the Spirit, which is exactly the goal of contemplative prayer, to receive God/Spirit and knowledge from Him, to open ourselves up to God so we hear Him properly.
Listening prayers are similar to contemplative prayer, there is a form of silencing the mind to “listen” for God. In fact, many people who promote hearing God from experiences and emotions will often use contemplative prayer techniques to “hear” God. Not saying you do this, just sharing other people do this.
I do understand from what you’ve shared when you say “speak” you are not just meaning audibly. As the sunset example, God is not audibly speaking of His handiwork. Romans 1 does talk about the revelation that there is a Creator, and His creation speaks of that. Psalm 19:1 says, “the Heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”
I agree with you that creation speaks of a Creator, but I wouldn’t say this is God speaking. I view it similar as when we say a painting “speaks” to us, but that doesn’t mean we are speaking to the painter. But the painting does indicate that there is a painter, just like creation indicates there is a Creator.
If we think God speaks and we define speaking as pictures, creation, thoughts, experiences, or emotions – this can get very subjective in how we interpret whether something is of God or not isn’t. Like I mentioned, as long as something doesn’t seem to go against scripture, then we are more likely to think, “Well, this must be God, then.”
This was the life I used to live. I misunderstood scripture. I doubted and was afraid I was misunderstanding God’s will. I relied on things way too symbolically. I was disrespectful to God putting words in His mouth when I thought He “spoke”.
This is what has helped me.
-All who put their faith in Jesus Christ will be forgiven and will receive the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 2:16, 3:14)
-The Holy Spirit does not depart those of faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit directs us and controls us..- (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:09, John 14:16)
-We walk in the way of the Spirit. (Romans 7:06)
-We are transformed by the renewing of the mind, this happens through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23-24)
-We love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the only way to know how to properly love God is to follow His commands, which are given to us in scripture. Loving the Lord with all of our mind as the mind is renewed by the Spirit and transformed through HIs truth found in scripture. God’s word explains to us where righteousness is found (in Jesus) and what righteousness looks like. These answers do not come outside of scripture, but from scripture. – (Matthew 12:30, Romans 3:22, Philippians 1:09-11)
-The Holy Spirit always points to scripture because He points out sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. He points back to Christ and the teachings of Christ. (John 16:08, 14:26)
-We know what the will of God is through understanding scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16)
-Wisdom of the Lord is received through fearing Him and studying His word to know Him.
-When we study and know scripture – this naturally affects our decisions, which is being obedient to God and His word. No questions. No fear. Trust because 2 Timothy 3:16-17- “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Costi Hinn recently released a podcast on the Will of God https://www.forthegospel.org/podcast/ – As he states (paraphrased) “People who do not know scripture will fret over the will of God.” – We do not have to worry, at all. It’s all in scripture.
I’ve received so many answers than I ever did when I thought I could hear God outside of scripture. All my answers were found in scripture. Every single one. The decisions I make need to be based in scripture. When I make choices, scripture influences them. I can walk forward in confidence in Jesus Christ because of His word and not worry whether or not I “heard” HIm right. And seeking Him only in scripture is not a one-sided relationship. The Holy Spirit ministers constantly through His word. When the body of Christ speaks the truth from the Bible, the Holy Spirit works through them, too. It is the comfort of God’s word that is encouraging. Scripture always hears Him right.
The Bible is not like any other book. The Bible does not place God in a box or limit Him because these are His living and breathing words. They are alive. He is speaking now and His truth reigns. If we want to hear Him, all we have to do is open the Bible, and we will see. He is ROARING! He is not silent. And yes, creation testifies of a Creator, but it is scripture that increases our faith and helps us understand, which brings us to our knees. (Romans 10:17)
It is the message of the Gospel that opens our eyes and ears, and every scripture about eyes that see and ears that hear is all about understanding scripture properly. It isn’t about understanding God outside of scripture, but rather, understanding God from the word He has already blessed us with.
(ESV) Hebrews 1:01-02, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
He has spoken in His word. 🙂 It is enough and it is exactly as He commands us to do.
I hope my response is helpful to you or anyone else wondering why I do not seek God outside of scripture and why I turned away from this mindset. I appreciate the discussion and I hope it’s edifying.