I am hearing about contemplative prayer and centering prayer. Because I can’t find a crystal clear definition of either, I’m not certain whether they’re the same or different things. If either involves emptying the mind, I realize that’s of Eastern religion and not biblical. Yet I hear of so-called Christians doing these practices, and want to respond biblically. Please enlighten me on these terms.
The terms are often used interchangeably. The terms describe an approach to prayer associated with Christian mysticism. That approach seeks to affect one’s consciousness by means of repeating words and employing breathing techniques. This has the supposed purpose of assisting people to listen to the voice of God.
Considering this, you have reason to be concerned about the practice. Prayer certainly is communication with God, but that communication is not to consist of “babbling” (Matthew 6:7). Communicating with God in prayer also does not mean that we put our minds in neutral (1 Corinthians 14:15). No, prayer is communication with God that involves our entire being.
While prayer is our means of communicating with God, God has told us that he communicates with people through his word, the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2). We do not look for God to speak to us beyond his written word.
Do remind others of the wonderful privilege of prayer that God has given his children. Your reminders can also include what the Bible does and does not teach about prayer.