One of IHOP's professed teachings on prayer is the introduction of "contemplative prayer".
Below are quotes from Mike Bickle on contemplative prayer:
· “Every one in the Body Of Christ is called to live lives of contemplative prayer...”
· “Everybody is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle. Everyone! Everyone! Everyone! That’s one of the great strongholds we have to overcome (resistance to contemplative prayer).
· “…contemplative prayer, you gotta get over that hurdle! Barnes & Noble is prophesying it! Hurtle one we gotta understand it’s for everybody! Everybody is called to the fullness (contemplative prayer). We’re all going to go into this thing!” --audio message Contemplative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle
Many have asked me: So what is this contemplative prayer thing? What does that mean? Well, I have provided a brief definition below as well as links for you to do your own research into this dangerous new age teaching that has leaked its way into the body. This practice has become part of the "new" doctrine being presented by IHOP and other ministries. Contemplative prayer (also known by the term 'centering prayer') is simply a re-packaged heresy taught by the Roman Catholic church as far back as the 17th century. It was distilled into a prayer model and rose in popularity in the 1970's. (Click here for web source)
One source explains it this way:
"Contemplative prayer, also known as “centering prayer,” is a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. According to Catholic priest Thomas Keating, this is how it is done: "Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Although this might sound like an innocent exercise, this type of "prayer" has no scriptural support whatsoever. In fact, it is just the opposite of how prayer is defined in the Bible. "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done" (Philippians 4:6, NLT). "At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven't done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy" (John 16:23-24, NLT). These verses, and others, clearly portray prayer as being comprehensible communication with God, not an esoteric, mystical meditation." (Click here for source)
Anyone with an understanding of how the Bible teaches us to pray and a basic knowledge of the new age movement can clearly detect where this teaching is heretical at its core. So how has this been re-packaged and re-used in churches and congregations today? Simple. By inserting God's name and the use of scripture to bring the believer into a "higher form of consciousness in prayer". Um, hello. Red flags going off here for anyone else?
Some have argued that this is innocent and doesn't really mean the same thing that new age teaches. Well I argue that with this analogy: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quack's like a duck, it's a duck!
So, re-cycling, re-packaging and re-naming a doctrine something more "listener friendly" doesn't take it from its skewed meaning and make it suddenly okay. There is no scriptural foundation for this heretical teaching. If this were the highest form of prayer that humanity could enter into, wouldn't it have been what Jesus taught when he walked the earth??
Time and time again, I've heard Mike and other leaders/teachers at IHOP take scripture out of context to support the new teaching they were introducing. One such twisting in relationship to contemplative prayer is Matthew 6:6 which says "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Well clearly, Jesus is talking about not praying to be seen but to remember that communication with the Father is about a one-on-one dialog. This verse however has been twisted at IHOP to refer to contemplative prayer by stating that this "inner room" you are to go into to pray is actually yourself. They say that this verse supports the teaching of contemplative prayer because you are to retreat into your own spirit to pray.
If the above wasn't convincing enough, click HERE to read IHOP's detailed explanation of the different methods of contemplative prayer that they teach. This is directly from IHOP's website.
This is just one of many new-age/mystical practices that has found its way into the body by simply re-naming the components so as to deceive those hearing it. Uncover its roots and you'll see it in it's original packaging. It's like doing a cosmetic touch-up on a house that has been condemned and boarded up. When the paint starts cracking and the wallpaper comes down, you begin to see what it was before. Let us not stray away from the simplicity of devotion to our Lord (2 Cor 11:3)
For further research, here are a few other sources. I do not necessarily endorse these particular sites or ministries so please read for yourself with discernment and an open ear to the voice of God. Some sites below are PRO-contemplative prayer and will teach it with a different spin. Others are anti-contemplative prayer. But I thought you might be interested in seeing it from both perspectives.