Richard Abanes, Rick Warren and The New Age Movement

April 21, 2008

” Contemplative prayer  (also known as” centering prayer”) is controversial but does not necessarily border on occultism and Eastern meditation (though some of its proponents have drawn from non-Christian forms of meditation). It is supposed to be Trinitarian and Christ-centered; it is meant to help people slow down from the daily rat race and be still and quiet before God with the earnest expectation of hearing Him speak to their soul.

This is accomplished by removing distraction from the mind and centering ones thoughts on God. It is a prayer of silence whereby a Christian experiences the infinite majesty and wonder of the Lord while simultaneously realizing hoe close He is to each one of us as the very source of all we are an all we can be.

Acceptable forms of this prayer method should not conform to New Age meditation practices, which are meant to bebring about an altered state of consciousness whereby one is “enlightned” to the so-called truths of self divinity and the oneness of all that is (pantheism). end quote from Richard Abanes book “Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him”. page 137 Richard Abanes booklet in defence of Rick Warren.

Abanes then goes on to use the analogy of gazing silently at a mountain range or staring quietly at a ocean. Again a poor analogy of this form of New Age prayer which Richard is defending.

As much as I try to not let Richard Abanes get under my skin I must say he does because of this.

 Richard can take whats clearly (to a discerning born again Christian) a black and white painting and broad brush the painting with Richards own time enhanced talent of broad brushing something with strokes of gray.

Richard again had gone on record as defending the Emergent church so he has answered centering prayer as most Emergent leaders would do.


Now compare Abanes statement with that of Richard Fosters who is a promoter of this New Age form of prayer) comments from Fosters own book “Finding the Hearts True Home”I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know..there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are defiantly not in cooperation with God and His way!… But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection…”All dark spirits must now leave.

(Foster goes on to say in the same book) At the outset I need to give a word of warning, a little like the warning labels on a medicine bottles. Contemplative prayer is not for the novice. I do not say this about any other form of prayer. All are welcome, regardless of proficiency or expertise, to enter freely into adoration and meditation and intercession and a host of other approaches to prayer

 But contemplative is different. end quote-

I know a lot about this form of prayer because my mom was engaged in this style of prayer back in the 60’s with Thomas Merton and others who endorsed it then (another topic for another day).

I know personally what this can do to a persons long term spirtual health.

Now does everyone who performs this style of prayer float above the room and have a occult experience?

Of course not.

 But the door is open -just as not everyone who plays with tarot cards and a ouija boards have occult experiences. But again the door is open.

Richards own pastor Rick Warren endorses this type of prayer re packaged as breath prayers. Warren also promotes Brother Lawerence as well. This can all be found in The Purpose Driven Life” chapter 11

“In Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life, on Day Eleven, he encourages people to practice “breath prayers” by repeating words and phrases over and over in a mantra-style prayer, a practice used centuries ago by a group of mystical monks known as the Desert Fathers. This so-called “prayer” is identical to that found in Hindu yoga and Zen Buddhism. ”


From Gerald Mays “The Awakened Heart p 87 citing from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawerence, transalated by John Delaney.

“”It is said of Brother Lawerence that when something had taken away from loves presence he would receive “a reminder from God” that so moved his soul that he “cried out, singing and dancing violently like a mad man.” You will note the reminders came from God and were not his own doing.” end quote

I have also read the writings of Theresa of Avila (I grew up Catholic). And Theresa had very real encounters with very real demons who scratched and bit her.

Hardly a style of prayer I would promote.

Its true origins stems from the Desert father and medival times who borrowed the practice from eastern religion not Christianity.

Why is it that as Christians we think we can take a pig slap a fish symbol on it and then call it a fish?

When in fact its still a pig.

I do believe many of the practitioner’s were honestly looking for God (but the song “Looking for love in all the wrong places comes to mind).

That doesnt make it right or something we should practice since it is a New Age practice.

To the best of my knowledge the Catholic church has banned the practice at least 3 times. Its now back in vogue repackaged as lectio divino (another practice from that time period).

Here is a actual warning from a Catholic site.


Centering prayer originated in St. Joseph’s Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961–1981) when Keating was abbot, St. Joseph’s held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks.

Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.

Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature. God is wholly other than man. It is also crucial to Christian prayer that God engages man’s whole being in response, not just his interior life. In the view of centering prayer, the immanence of God somehow makes the transcendence of God available to human techniques and experience.

Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one’s will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, “Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is.” He said the state can be verified physiologically by the drop in blood pressure, respiratory rate, lactic acid level in the blood, and the galvanic conductivity of the skin. Abbot Keating relates that, when they began doing the centering prayer workshops in the guest house, some of the monks and guests ” complained that it was spooky seeing people walking around the guest house like ‘zombies.”’ They recognized the symptoms but could not diagnose the illness. end quote

This is a lengthy topic so I will end here and bring you part 2 later on today.

More to come on Richard Abanes, Rick Warren and the New Age movement. I will bring out more in the next article the way Abanes attempts to spin and deceive you (in my opinion).





4 Responses to “Richard Abanes, Rick Warren and The New Age Movement”

  1. Matt Stone said

    So, ok, you object to this form of prayer. What would you offer as an alternative? Do you see any value in listening as part of prayer practice or should we limit our practice to just speaking?

  2. Hi Matt: Thanks for your comments. Its not that I dont approve of this kind of prayer but the Bible teaches against it.
    Matt 6:7 teaches “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
    Also check out 1 Kings 18:26.
    And just because the many practioners of centering prayer use scripture or a sacred word (as they call it) doesnt make it any less vain.
    For a answer to your question I suggest you search the scriptures. And dont make it complictated. Prayer is just talking and listening to God. And I would never say that being quiet is wrong. Sometimes we speak and dont listen.
    Again thanks for your comments

  3. Cory Briggs said

    Concerning Richard Abanes and Warren: Some time back I had contacted Abanes because I had found “The Purpose Driven Life” in New Age book stores. Abanes got nasty! I wish he was diciplined!

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