The spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola that include contemplative prayer are programs with occult methodologies and techniques that are being introduced and practiced in churches, seminaries and youth rallies around the world. These exercises are taken from the old Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions and are the antithesis of the meditation presented in God’s Word. Other examples of these practices are the Walk to Emmaus, Cursillo, Centering Prayer, Ignatian Awareness, Examen, chanting, biblical imagination, prayers of discernment, and the Jesus Prayer.
Most evangelicals would immediately reject divination practices like the Ouija board, for example, and see it as a device for contacting evil spirit entities, which the Bible condemns and calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). But the Catholic Spiritual Exercises, such as contemplative prayer, seem to the uneducated in God’s Word as less threatening because it is disguised under church related activities.
The term “contemplative” means to think about something intently. So by the name, one would assume contemplative prayer to be earnest communication with God. However practitioners of these contemplative methods don’t do that. The goal of these practices is to get people beyond thinking and into the realm of “experiencing” God. A tutorial of this movement is The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola which introduces occult visualization. Sadly, these visualized apparitions are demons that take actual forms and usher the practitioner into the world of the occult and away from the God of the Bible.
Contemplative prayer is not Biblical prayer because mystical “spirituality” downplays the role of faith in the Scriptures. It exalts “transcendental” experiences that raises the person from the earthly experiences into a supposedly higher “spiritual” stand. It is based on “experiences” rather than Bible based doctrine. God has given His Word and His Holy Spirit to help His children know what is of Him and what is not. The scriptures clearly teach that we should “give attendance… to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).
Faith that is based on mysticism is subjective and does not rely upon the objective absolute truths of God’s Word. The Scriptures have been given to us as a light the leads us to the path of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Trusting in feelings and experiences is not Biblical, we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Lord points people to His Word, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there[a] is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
We do not see any of the apostles, prophets or disciples ever using contemplative prayer to connect with God. On the contrary all sorcery and divination were fully condemned (1 Samuel 15:10) and for practicing these evils, the Jews were led into captivity and destroyed (2 Kings 17:17; Jeremiah 14:14; Malachi 3:5). And the apostle Paul lists sorcery as one of many sinful practices that rob people from having eternal life: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife . . . and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
In His service,