Rick Warren, "America's Pastor," author of Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church, literally changed how we do church today in America. With the
In Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren describes the practice of "breath prayers" and positively endorses Roman Catholic mystics Brother Lawrence and Madame Guyon. Those references have most likely gone over the heads of most readers, but as a former mystic myself, I can tell you that "breath prayers" is code for mantra meditation, which both Brother Lawrence and Madame Guyon practiced.
Jesus himself seems to be addressing this very topic when He says:
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7, my emphasis)I have often heard this scripture taught by pastors as an admonition not to engage in "mindless" prayer: that is, praying by rote, without thoughtfulness or care. While it is true that we ought to be mindful that we are entering into the presence of God every time we pray, with the understanding that this is an astounding privilege in and of itself - and we therefore ought not to take this privilege for granted and speak thoughtlessly or carelessly - that is not what this verse is talking about. This verse is admonishing Christians not to pray in the same manner as pagans. And how do pagans pray? Well, outside of Christianity, mysticism has always been the natural default of the human heart. All world religions that I know of have some kind of mystical tradition through which they attempt to approach God:
"Other methods of meditation involve drumming, dancing, and chanting. This percussion-sound meditation is perhaps the most common form for producing trance states in the African, North/South American Indian, and Brazilian spiritist traditions. In the Islamic world, the Sufi Mystic Brotherhoods have gained a reputation for chanting and ritual dancing. These are known as the Whirling Dervishes. Indian Guru, Rajneesh, developed a form of active meditation called dynamic meditation which combines the percussion sound, jumping, and rhythmic breathing." (Ray Yungen, For Many Shall Come In My Name)These mystical practices, rather than bringing us into the presence of God, however, work to put the brain into a trance-like state, lowering one's God-given boundaries, and opening its practitioners up to the demonic realm. This is what Jesus is cautioning against in this passage.
And yet, this pagan practice is exactly what Rick Warren, America's Pastor, first introduced to us in his book Purpose Driven Life, and is now promoting on his Saddleback website. And so it has to be asked: How much further away from orthodoxy does Rick Warren have to fall before Christians and Christian leaders will begin to "mark him out" and separate from him (Romans 16:17) - rather than continuing to give him a platform for teaching and preaching?
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