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Friday, March 12, 2010

Ray Yungen on Contemplative Prayer

By Justin Edwards

The following 2-part video by Ray Yungen gives an excellent outline of the mystical practice of contemplative prayer (centering prayer) and how it serves to bridge all religions together. I have also provided notes from the videos below, but I encourage you to watch the videos for proper context.

  • Society is being reconstructed along mystical lines
  • The "normal" Christian doesn't pray with the five senses - you're not gonna get God's full attention unless you get into "the silence"
  • The Desert Fathers - experimented with different disciplines, some of which were too harsh or extreme (is anything from God too harsh or extreme???)
    • Contemplative Prayer is outside of Biblical context
  • Thomas Merton - icon of contemplative prayer
    • Christians cannot fulfill mission without contemplative prayer (not the Great Commission mind you)
    • Center of being is a point of nothingness untouched by sin or illusions - it is the pure glory of God! (this is the higher self in New Age)
    • considered a Sufi Sheik mystic a great saint and filled with the Holy Spirit - believed he spoke the same mystical language as this Sufi
    • believed he was deeply impregnated with Sufism
  • Henri Nowen - contemplative prayer opens us to God's active presence - prayer, wisdom, and silence
    • All humans can walk through door whether they know Jesus or not
    • "my call is to help every person claim his or her own way to God"
  • Richard Foster - All should enroll in the school of contemplative prayer
  • Brennan Manning - first step of faith is to stop thinking about God at the moment of prayer
  • Everyone that goes into these trances finds out they are one with everything - panentheism
  • Sue Monk Kidd - southern baptist Sunday school teacher in SC turned mystic
    • student of Thomas Merton
    • "God become steam of my soup, graffiti on the building, rust on the fence" - New Age
    • Transition into goddess conscious
      • needs goddess conscious to reveal earth's holiness
      • matter becomes inspirited
      • goddessness offers us the holiness of everything
      • "my ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. period"
  • Reimagining Christianity - Alan Jones
    • "The life of contemplative prayer,...Loved and in communion with all things, the soul is born in and out of the secret silence of God. This silence at the heart of mysticism is not only the meeting point of the great traditions [religions] but also where all hearts might meet."
    • all humanity can be united
    • Brian McLaren on back cover - "Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining the Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality" (contemplative prayer)
    • McLaren is "encouraged deeply" that all religions can unite under this mystical practice
  • Tony Jones - "The basic method  promoted in The Cloud [of Unknowing] is to move beyond thinking into a place of utter stillness with the Lord...the believer must first achieve a state of silence and contemplation, and then God works in the believer's heart."

  • Rick Warren - "The Bible tells us to pray all the time. One way is to use breath prayers throughout the choose a brief sentence or a small phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath...pray it as often as possible." (this is mantra meditation)
    • Warren esteems Catholic monk Brother Lawrence - Practicing the Presence of God
  • Gary Thomas - Sacred Ways
    • "In general, centering prayer works like this: choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say 20 minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself just as naturally and involuntary as breathing." (this is no different than other meditative practices found in Eastern traditions)
    • Rick Warren on Gary Thomas - "Gary has spoken at Saddleback and I think highly of his work...he tells them [the readers] how they can make the most of their spiritual journeys on practicing spiritual exercises."
  •  Karl Rahner - "The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will be nothing at all."  
  • Contemplative prayer is an esoteric tradition - convents, monasteries
  • True prayer is a personal relationship with God
  • You will not find contemplative prayer in any of the Apostle Paul's epistles 
  • Jesus - "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words."- Matthew 6:7
  • I Timothy 4:1 - "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,"


  1. Daniel from FaceBook here,

    nice expose brother.

  2. Hi Daniel, welcome to airo and thanks for the comment. Hope to see you here often! :)


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