Spiritual Research Network

Monday, August 14, 2006

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer? by Marcia Montenegro

Dear friends, the following article is written by Marcia Montenegro, the director of CANA - Christian Answers for the New Age.

Marcia was a professional astrologer who spent many years in the New Age movement. She is now a Christian who is reaching out to people and sharing the real Jesus, not the New Age Jesus.
Below is some more information about Marcia and her ministry as well as a very insightful article about Contemplative Prayer, which is not really prayer at all but a form of Eastern mysticism.

CANA Ministry Information:
Marcia's story
Statement of Faith
Marcia's background
Mission Statement
Helping CANA

~ Chris at SRN


Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer?
by Marcia Montenegro

[First published in Midwest Christian Outreach Journal, February, 2005; this version has been modified with additional information]

"God's first language is silence." 1

"Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence." 2

"The important thing is that we are relaxed and our back is straight so that the vitalizing energies can flow freely." 3

Contemplation is "a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word 'wherever He may go.'" 4

Contemplative Prayer, also called Centering Prayer or Listening Prayer, has been taught by Roman Catholic monks Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, as well as by Quaker Richard Foster, and is being advocated by many others. There is no one authority on this method, nor is there necessarily a consistent teaching on it, though most of the founding teachers quote medieval mystics, Hindu, and Buddhist spiritual teachers.

According to www.contemplativeoutreach.org, "Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970's by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts." It should be added, "During the twenty years (1961-1981) when Keating was abbot, St. Joseph's held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks." 5

The influence of Buddhism and Hinduism on Contemplative Prayer (hereafter referred to as CP) is apparent. Words such as "detachment," "transformation," "emptiness," "enlightenment" and "awakening" swim in and out of the waters of these books. The use of such terms certainly mandates a closer inspection of what is being taught, despite the fact that contemplative prayer is presented as Christian practice.

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