Loving God with Our Minds


Last night I heard the tail end of a televised sermon by some preacher I didn’t recognize. What caught my attention was one line. In essence, he said we need to put our minds on hold and believe God with child-like faith.

Well, sure, I know the last part of that statement is true, but put our minds on hold?

If that’s what Jesus meant when he said “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it {at} {all}” (Mark 10:15, NASB), then why did he say we need to love God with all our mind?

And [Jesus] answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

– Luke 10:27 (NASB – boldface emphasis is mine)

True, Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament (thus the “all caps” in this translation), but plenty of times in the book of Matthew, He said, You have heard it said …, but I say to you ….

The fact that Jesus left this “love God with all your mind” statement (also quoted in Matthew 22:37) alone implies He agreed with the passage He was quoting.

But last night on the TV screen standing before an audience drinking in his words as he supposedly expounded on Scripture, this preacher was telling those listening to disengage their minds.

Actually that rang a bell.

Several weeks ago, I read about “centering prayer,” a practice that apparently is becoming more and more common. And why wouldn’t it? There are people who teach the technique in workshops and training programs, and there are writers who write about the “discipline.”

Here’s what Mike Morrell said about centering prayer in “Is God ‘A Recovering Practitioner of Violence’?”:

Part of the ‘inner reflex’ is [sic] Centering Prayer is letting go. For 20 minutes twice a day, it’s a continuous letting go of thoughts and emotions that well up inside – kind of like a fisherman catching fish but not to eat – just for fun. He’s sitting in a boat (the mind) and his pole rests in the water (the field of consciousness). Little fish (thoughts, ideas, emotions) come up and nibble on the line (ordinary awareness) – the fisherman doesn’t shoot the fish with a revolver or cut the line. Instead, he pulls the little fish up, but doesn’t keep them in the boat – it’s catch & release.

Catch and release, catch and release, gently, graciously – because you recognize that even the lake is situated in a much larger ecosystem (God). You can let go because the earth is abundant; you will be fed. Centering Prayer is a journey of trust in God, even on the unconscious level, where all kind of mis-trustful thoughts bubble up to the surface.

While the practice as described above comes closer to Buddhist meditation, it’s cousin, Christian existentialism, isn’t much different:

[Adele Ahlberg] Calhoun [in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, InterVarsity Press] tells us to select a simple word or phrase from Scripture that expresses your desire for God. She gives examples of love, peace, grace, Jesus, great Shepherd. Let this word guard your attention. …

During this time, become quiet. You will probably have many thoughts rushing through your head at first simply because you are thinking about a time limit and getting back to your day. However, you must remain quiet and let these thoughts go. Keep repeating the phrase from above until they do. Calhoun says, “Be with Jesus. Listen. Be Still.”

“Prayer disciplines part 2-Centering Prayers” by Frank Jenkins

So I wonder, if Jesus thought this was a good way to pray, why, when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, didn’t He give them this model?

And why are we so quick to run to some other source to learn how to enhance our relationship with God than the one He gave us?

Like all false teaching, there is an element of truth in some of the descriptions of centering prayer, thus giving it the sheen of spirituality, but when I look in Scripture to see what God says about prayer, I find that He wants our minds engaged when we meet with Him.

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Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm  Comments (7)  
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