Is it okay for people to speak as Christ? How can listening prayers be wrong? What about books like Jesus Calling? Are there problems in desiring to “feel connected” to God in prayer?
What I was not able to dig into the previous post regarding the “still small voice” I would like to do for today. We will also look at an example of the problems that happen when someone tries to speak as “Jesus.”
But before moving on….
If you are unfamiliar with:
-Eastern roots of CP
–Listening Prayers (Beth Moore & Rick Warren promote these kinds of prayers, I used to, and many others still do.)
If you are unsure of any of these terms, please check my post: Contemplative Prayer & Contemplative Spirituality. This post is already really long. I cannot explain everything in every post because of the amount of time and space it takes. Though…I’d love to! I will, however, try to leave some links for the terms, as well. Please click on them if you would like to learn specifics about those terms.
Regarding the danger of using our emotions to discern truth, please see: Should We Use Our Emotions As Truth?. I discuss what emotionalism is. Emotionalism has a major role in Contemplative Prayer.
What About That Still Small Voice?
“God speaks in a still small voice.” Have you ever heard that before? I certainly have. I used to believe it was true, too. But looking at the context of scripture challenges that theology.
(ESV) 1 Kings 19:12, “And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”
What many Christians often do with this scripture is they claim this scripture shows us that we need to listen to God outside of scripture. We need to listen to the still small voice. This teaching creates problems that often lead into Contemplative Prayer.
We should NEVER base a teaching off one scripture, but here we are. What I failed to understand and what many fail to understand… is that God didn’t talk in a whisper for long. Check this out.
(ESV) 1 Kings 19:13, “And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Notice, just one verse later, God isn’t speaking in a whisper anymore. That’s the point. God does not whisper typically. Verse 12 was to illustrate something to Elijah, and right after that, God starts speaking regularly.
Also, please note, I’m not Elijah, and my friend, you are not Elijah, okay. This is what we call a descriptive text NOT a prescriptive text. We have no right to expect God to speak to us in a still small voice. No Bible verse tells US this. Adding Psalm 46:10, to say we need to be still in order to hear God is twisting the context of scripture. Please note: The next part of being still in Psalm 46:10 is to KNOW God. We know God through scripture. Scripture explains God’s will, commands, how we obtain righteousness through Christ, the Gospel message, everything we will ever need to know. Silence does not tell us this.
Recommended Resource: Marcia Montenegro from Christian Answers for the New Age also has explained the twisting of Psalm 46:10 and how people connect it to eastern religion, which you can read here: A TIME TO BE STILL? A CASE OF MISGUIDED ADORATION.
Scripture says the Bible guides us. 2 Timothy 3:15-17, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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.”
Using this verse in 1 Kings is twisting scripture. *Caps are for emphasis. These scriptures were written for us, but not about us. Most scriptures are not about us. We need to understand that.
So, this text of a still small voice is not prescribed to every single believer. We see it just the one time. It’s a description of something that took place. It is not something we then take and prescribe to ourselves. That would be called eisegesis (inserting our meaning into the text) or as Pastor Chris Rosebrough calls, “narcigesis” we make a text about ourselves when we have nothing to do with a verse.
Check out: Got Questions: What Is The Difference Between Eisegesis & Exegesis?
A Still Small Voice, Listening Prayer, & Automatic Writing?
Sadly, many people will use this verse and seek Contemplative Prayer. I did. I used to affirm my relationship with God by the dreams I had, the symbols I thought I saw, and the way I felt “connected” to God. But the Lord is so much bigger than our experiences and our emotions.
God deserves the respect that we understand Him on HIS terms, in HIS way. We do this through properly reading the word of God correctly and in context. It’s dishonorable to read ourselves into scripture. It’s disrespectful to do practices that make us feel good about ourselves, and slap on the word “Christian” when it isn’t about Jesus, but it’s really about us.
Now, there are many who take that “still small voice” and believe they hear from God outside of scripture. Many will then share with others what they believe God is saying to them. What most people say, what I used to say, is we have to test every single thing we believe that God is saying to us outside of scripture, to make sure it’s really God. But the same people who believe God is speaking, as I used to say, too, will also claim that this manner of God speaking is not the same as scripture.
Marcia Montenegro (whom I have recommended many times on this blog) explains the confusion of saying this. She has an article discussing Sarah Young’s claim on how God directed her to write her book, Jesus Calling. Sarah makes many of the same claims that people today make, regarding why they believe it’s ok to listen for the Lord to speak to them outside of scripture. In fact, these are the same claims that explain why people believe books, like Jesus Calling, are ok. Check out this article by Marcia Montenegro: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: WUI (Writing Under The Influence)
“You can’t have it both ways, saying these words are from Jesus but need to be checked; they are from Jesus but are not inspired; or the messages are written with Holy Spirit guidance but not on a par with Scripture. Does Young not see the incredible claims being made and the resulting insoluble contradictory problem? Apparently not.”Montenegro, M. (n.d.). Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: WUI (writing under the influence). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_JesusCalling.html
“As someone formerly involved in the New Age, I am bound to say that listening for a message from a supernatural being in order to write down words heard from or dictated by this being is a form of automatic writing, an occult practice.”Montenegro, M. (n.d.). Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: WUI (writing under the influence). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_JesusCalling.html
Someone shared with me a Christian magazine called, “Simple Grace” written for and with Christian women in mind. While the magazine is no longer in production, you can still visit their Facebook page. And their description box screams of Contemplative Prayer.
Sounds Christian, But Is It Really?
What I am going to share now is a critique on the content of Simple Grace. My critique is NOT meant to belittle the people behind the magazine. We need to be able to grow through challenges and critiques. Scripture says iron sharpens iron. We are to provoke one another in Christ. I’m sure the ladies behind the magazine are kind and nice, but that doesn’t lessen the fact the magazine has troubling content. It is the content I am responding to. I repeat, I’m critiquing the content, not the people. (Proverbs 27:27, Hebrews 10:24, 1 John 4:01)
I want to share it with you, to show you how extremely intoxicating/itching to the ears it is for churches and individuals to partake of this practice. Why wouldn’t people want to experience God? Especially those who do not know better, they are trusting others, like Simple Grace, to tell them the truth.
Similar to Jesus Calling, this magazine tries to speak as Christ in the Q&A. There are three authors (at least for the magazine I referenced) and none of them are listed for who wrote each Q&A, speaking as Christ. My friend mentioned to me, “Knowing the author throws off the illusion this is Christ speaking.”
Notice how contemplation with the Spirit is discussed below and then how it’s explained on their Facebook page. “A suggestion as to how to directly feel and experience divine energy.” Yep, that’s Contemplative Prayer. Divine energy is how the Holy Spirit is described. Please show me how the 3rd Person of the Trinity is defined as only divine energy?
Now, check out this example of their Q&A, and how they answer as Jesus.
Please keep in mind, this magazine is suppose to be giving answers. It is not suppose to be giving the reader more questions. Also, note the avoidance of the Gospel message in detail. Sin is not discussed. No one knows we need to repent. Direction on prayer from scripture isn’t discussed, though that was the question being asked.
A major issue with these extremely short Q&A’s is that these questions often deserve an in-depth look at what scripture says. It’s going to take more than one page. But the answer portion, sadly, is like a family show. Everyone’s problems get wrapped up in 30 minutes or less. In this case, your problems are tied with a bow on one page, and majority of the answer often relates to how you should feel, not what God tells us in His word to do.
While the article certainly touches on some truths, there is a lot left up to the imagination of the reader. There’s a lot of guess-work on deciding what “Jesus” means. This is common in the Seeker-Driven movement. Vague answers that on the surface sound right, but you don’t really know HOW to do what you’re told.
This leaves a lot of people feeling useless, unloved by God, and powerless. They see all these other people have “spiritual encounters” and they don’t know what that means. Which is exactly what the questioner experienced!
This is why it’s so wrong and hurtful to encourage people to listen to God in silence and find answers outside of the Bible! They use their emotions to “feel connected” to God and question salvation when they do not feel connected.
Which is exactly why I’m sorry I used to promote this mindset and why I’ve recanted from it. Scripture explains everything, and by no means does this limit God or put Him in a box, but rather, it shows how scripture is living and breathing. God’s word is eternal. It’s powerful. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
Here are the personal questions I get from the answer given. Notice, I am pointing out places from the answer, in which the Gospel really would have been helpful. Also, I am pointing out where scripture contradicts the advice.
- What does “develop a heart” for His hurt mean? Aren’t Christians assured we can have the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 2:16)
- Why are people straying from His way?
- Why did He sacrifice so much? What does that mean?
- Does God really need us to ease His ache? What scripture says this?
- Use whatever words come into your heart? Through silence? But isn’t the heart deceitful? Aren’t we to be slow to speak? To guard our heart? (Jeremiah 17:09, James 1:19, Proverbs 4:23)
- How do we “send” God our love?
- We need to pray as if we have come upon a wounded animal… Um… What? What if I do not want to pray like I’ve always come across a wounded animal?
- Imagine God’s sadness come over us? Why? We are not God.
- How do we “summon up a feeling of pure love”? What does that even mean? Do WE have pure love? Aren’t we sinners and our works are like filthy rags? (Romans 3:10, Isaiah 64:06)
- What is a place of compassion? Where is it?
- Do we physically feel the Holy Spirit? What about all those people who are genuine believers but do not “feel” the Holy Spirit? Are they not saved, then? Must we always “experience” the Holy Spirit?
People who either are a babe in Christ or a nonbeliever will not receive the Gospel in this manner. They are trusting the response they are given, and desiring to believe this is really how Jesus speaks to them. Please consider the implications of what it means to really think Christ is answering like this. It’s a lie.
At the beginning of the magazine, Simple Grace shares that a writer will select one of the many requests and take that request in a listening prayer. (See: Got Questions: What Is Listening Prayer?) So, she basically writes out what she believes God is telling her. This is close to automatic writing. This is essentially taking the role of a prophetess. As you see, the author is not using scripture to explain the answer. The author is trying to speak as Christ.
The author of this answer encourages the reader to rely on feeling, as affirmation from God. No other scripture is given for the answers. Sin is not discussed. The Gospel Message is not explained clearly. We never see Christ encourage people to use emotion as affirmation in scripture. But this emotional Jesus very much includes focusing on emotion. That’s a red flag.
This Q&A relies on people already knowing the Gospel and similarly to other Seeker-Driven teachers, like Rick Warren in his Purpose Driven book. The answers are extremely vague and leave the reader confused and wanting more direction and clarity. Jesus is not explained well. This is an emotional Jesus. This is an emotional God, who needs people to fulfill Him. Friends, I promise you, our Lord is not weak. He does not need anyone to help Him.
Instead of answering the question with what scripture says about prayer, most of the advice given is nonsense. It’s blasphemous to speak as God. The Lord does not lead us into a state of mindfulness, like yoga. Nowhere in the Bible are we led in such a way. Yet, the ending of these answers are always the same. Get in a comfortable position. Imagine this. Give Him your love. Feel Him. Etc. This is Contemplative Prayer. Again, I discuss this in detail in my post: Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality | What You Need To Know About That “Still, Small Voice”
Notice, the Bible does not direct us to pray to God in a calm position. The Bible does not even encourage us that we have to “feel” connected to God. Our faith in the Lord is beyond feeling. Our faith is based on the evidence and trust we have in Jesus Christ and the belief that He is the truth and the only truth. (Matthew 6:09-13, Hebrews 11:01, 1 Peter 5:01)
False teachers and resources, like Simple Grace, leave people with always desiring for more. (2 Peter 2:03, 1:16 )
(ESV) Romans 16:18, “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Melissa Dougherty did 2 videos that cover the problems of encouraging these spiritual experiences. I recommend you check out:
– The Secret Sin Invading Christianity by Melissa Dougherty
– Spiritual Damage from Spiritual Encounters by Melissa Dougherty
Some other helpful resources:
What Is Spiritualism – Got Questions
What Is Faithism & the Oahspe Bible? – This discusses what automatic writing is – Got Questions
Are There Doctrinal Problems With Jesus Calling? – Got Questions
Automatic Writing & Contemplative Prayer – Right Response Ministries With Doreen Virtue
How Can I Know I’m Hearing God, Satan, Or My Own Thoughts? – Got Questions
What Is Listening Prayer? – Got Questions
Mysticism: The Deadly Dangers of Trusting Experiences Over Biblical Authority – Justin Peters
Montenegro, M. (n.d.). Contemplating contemplative Prayer: Is it really Prayer? (page 1 of 3). (n.d.). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_ContemplativePrayer1.html
Montenegro, M. (n.d.). Jesus Calling by Sarah Young: WUI (writing under the influence). Christiananswersforthenewage.Org. Retrieved October 27, 2021, from http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_JesusCalling.html
Nichols , D., Maxbauer , L., & Gutthardt, M. (2016, October 1). Scared of Disappointing . Simple Grace , 2(10), 1–144.
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 28, 2021, from https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-gnosticism.html
What is contemplative spirituality? (2006, July 19). Gotquestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-spirituality.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 – Community Prayer | October ’21
Topics & Series Previously Covered On Inside Cup
Personal Blog: Peeking Beneath
Blog For Christian Women: UnAshamed Christian Housewife
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Video Playlist: Christian Questions, Topics, False Teachers, Insights
Video Playlist: New Christian Believer
Video Playlist: Understanding False Teachings
Video Playlist: Sermons To Grow From