Tree of Life – Meditation vs Prayer

TREE OF LIFE - MEDITATION vs PRAYERTree of Life – Meditation vs Prayer

He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
(Psalm 107:20)

Tree of Life – Meditation that is not founded upon the Word of God, like a labyrinth, is a maze that ultimately ends up in futility, going nowhere but endless spirals.  [DTW note:  see related articles:  7 Colours of the Rainbow and the 7 Chakras  and 7 Colours of the Rainbow and the Labyrinth]

Those who have practiced Eastern-style meditation, with its emptying of the mind and/or visualization (imagery), often do so because they desire to acquire peace, or because they are hurting and desire their inner psycho-spiritual needs to be met. Yet they will eventually find that their needs are not met, and they are more empty than ever. Further, this type of meditation opens one’s mind to occult spirituality – even if it is done under the aura of being “Christian.”

Those who engage in the pantheon of contemplative practices need to beware that it is described as “two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices: cultivating awareness and developing a stronger connection to God, the divine, or inner wisdom.”[1]   See  “The Tree of Contemplative Practices”.   This is a graphic representation of how the “roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.”[2]

Looking at this tree, it is obvious that what passes for “Christian” meditation in our modern era springs from the Gnostic roots of this occult tree. Is it any wonder that this tree then bears corresponding occult fruit? Note that this contemplative tree does not promise life, only “wisdom,” which just happens to be what the serpent promised Eve if she ate of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden….

But what about the person who is truly needy? One who is experiencing a crisis of faith? Who is being persecuted? The fragile believer who feels that their faith is floundering or drying up? These struggling believers are being encouraged to run to this “contemplative tree” of eclectic spiritual practices to find refuge, solace and comfort. After all, it is trendy to run to this contemporary contemplative tree, despite its antiquated roots buried in the deep strata of occultism.

This alluring multifaceted tree promises healing, renewal, insight, rest, wisdom and access to God.  But, warning! Eating its fruit results in spiritual blindness and deafness, bondage and emptiness.

The Tree of Life

There is another tree, which is found in Scripture. It is based on the Word of God. Psalm 1 describes the believer who finds his “delight in the the law of the LORD” and says that in this law (God’s Word) “doth he meditate day and night.” If a believer does this he is promised that he shall “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (verses 2-3, emphases added). What a promise!

Meditating on the Word of God produces beautiful fruit in the lives of Christian believers. There are many other promises in Scripture for the believer who meditates upon God’s Word. These are personal promises that apply not only to daily living, but also to a wide variety of life crises, feelings, situations, hurts, pains, persecutions, trials, trouble and dangers. Here is just a brief sampling, starting at Psalm 119, which is a treasure trove of promises to those who meditate on God’s Word; i.e. His precepts, commandments, judgments, law and testimonies:

  • Psalm 119:25 – My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy Word.
  • Psalm 119:28 – My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy Word.
  • Psalm 119:97 – O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
  • Psalm 119:104 – Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
  • Psalm 119:105 – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
  • Psalm 119:130 – The entrance of thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
  • Psalm 119:133 – Order my steps in thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
  • Psalm 119:134 – Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
  • Psalm 119:161 – Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy Word.
  • Psalm 119:162 – I rejoice at thy Word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Proverbs 30:5 further promises that “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.”

Isaiah 29 warns about idolatrous hearts (vs. 13) and says that the “wisdom of their wise men shall perish” (vs. 14). Then Isaiah 30 speaks to those who “despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon” (vs. 12), but promises that “in returning [i.e., repentance] and rest shall ye be saved.” This same verse promises the very thing that contemplative practices claim to accomplish – rest! And it further promises that “in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” But, sadly, the verse concludes with the tragic statement: “and ye would not.”

God’s ways are not hidden like the obscure “wisdom” of the occult that must be meditated upon in endless ways that never satisfy. He has given us His Word openly. Twice in Isaiah God says, “I have not spoken in secret” (Isaiah 45:19 and 48:16). God’s Word does satisfy, and we are promised in Isaiah 55:11 that: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

The New Testament, particularly in the book of Acts, records the power of the Word of God to change human lives. The backdrop to the events in Acts is strikingly similar to our modern era with its rapidly rising idolatry and occult spirituality. God’s Word alone has the miraculous power to change lives. Paul told King Agrippa that the purpose of preaching the Gospel (i.e., God’s Word) was “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). And in Romans Paul states that the Gospel of Christ “is the power of God unto salvation” (vs. 16).

Many today avoid God’s Word. They do not run to it as a source of strength and sustenance. They will do anything but read God’s Word! In Jeremiah 2:13 we read how readily people will substitute an inferior man-made product for The Way: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

Perhaps the reason for avoidance of God’s Word is because His Word is uncomfortable – it is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Word provokes believers to have their conscience quickened to sin in their hearts and lives, and it encourages them to “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8)!

Many Scriptures warn about hardening of the heart, which is the consequence of not obeying the Word. These are not popular verses in our era, particularly the ones that refer to hardness of heart being wicked!

John 12:40 – “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

Romans 2:4-5 – “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”

Proverbs 21:29 – “A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.”

Proverbs 28:14 – “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”

Proverbs 29:1 – “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

Hebrews 3:8 warns particularly, “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness,” which is followed by verse 11, “So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” This is that true rest which can only be found in obedience to God’s Word. It cannot be obtained through the pursuing of meditative mechanisms.

Eating the fruit of “The Tree of Contemplative Practices” cannot result in either repentance nor rest, but rather in an increasing tolerance for doctrinal ambiguity, sinful living, ecumenism, and mysticism. Romans 1 describes the downhill progression that begins with being “vain” in one’s “imaginations.” This vanity seems an apt description of all entry-level contemplative practices. It quickly degenerates into one’s “foolish heart” becoming “darkened.” Romans 1 indicates that this downward spiral becomes outright idolatry, vile affections, a reprobate mind, and a long list of evil practices.

Where is God’s sovereignty and majesty? Job was chastised by God for his inadequate and inferior view of Him. Couldn’t the same thing be said today to those who worship at “The Tree of Contemplative Practices”?   While they pursue their various pilgrimages, meditations, chantings, journalings, sweatlodges and visionquests, God is saying to them: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding?” (vs. 4).

Likewise, Isaiah 66:5a cries out: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word.” Does anyone tremble at His Word anymore? Jeremiah Burroughs, in his classic work Gospel Fear: Developing a Tender Hart that Trembles at the Word of God (1647)[3], describes the effects of having a “fear of the Lord” which is the “instruction of wisdom,” as stated in Proverbs 15:33, and notes that those who tremble at the Word must have a “teachable disposition.”[4]. Citing Proverbs 17:10 (“A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool”), Burroughs asks: “Do you find your heart so tender that a word works upon you? This is a sign of the wisdom of God that is in your soul.”[5]

Once again, ironically, the very thing that those who pursue after contemplative mysticism desire – wisdom – is there all along for those who immerse themselves in God’s Word! It is interesting that Proverbs 3, especially verses 13 and 18, promises wisdom, saying that it is a “tree of life” – “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding… She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” [emphasis added]

The Truth:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)

1. “The Tree of Contemplative Practices,” the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society,

2. Ibid.
3. Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Fear: Developing a Tender Hart that Trembles at the Word of God (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2001),
4. p. 46.
5. p. 86, emphasis added.

Thank you to Herescope for this article.  [DTW notes in green]

See all articles on Contemplative Spirituality

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Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

11 Responses

  1. Lawrence says:

    What you seem to believe is that there is a duality between the followers of god and the followers of the occult. There are actually a polarity of your beliefs and the other’s. Both agree that the principles and laws of nature come directly from god. meditation and prayer are two practices that work to create a real action in the world by focusing our consciousness on a particular goal. I want these two trains of thought to be unified and if you can not come together than argue your point based on facts… not scripture taken out of context.

  2. Deborah (Discerning the World) says:

    Dear Lawrence

    you said “What you seem to believe is that there is a duality between the followers of god and the followers of the occult”

    Um, no.

    you said “There are actually a polarity of your beliefs and the other’s.”

    Um, no.

    you said “Both agree that the principles and laws of nature come directly from god.”

    Um, no. Christians believe in God, occultists do not not.

    you said “meditation and prayer are two practices that work to create a real action in the world by focusing our consciousness on a particular goal.”

    Um, no. Christian prayer/meditation is completely different to occult mediation etc, etc, etc.

    you said “I want these two trains of thought to be unified”

    Um, no, never.

    you said “>and if you can not come together than argue your point based on facts”

    Read the article.

    you said “not scripture taken out of context.”

    You’re an occultist, not a Christian. Yyou know nothing of what scripture means because you do not have the Holy Spirit abiding in you, if you did you would SEE that what you speak goes AGAINST scripture.

  3. RJ says:

    Deborah… SO THANKFUL for you! For your ministry, for this article! For your boldness. And yes, even thankful for your background, only b/c you rejected it, turned your back to it & ran to the Lord alone for salvation! Yet b/c of it, you truly know what you’re talking about. All credit to God! Truly a Romans 8:28 blessing!

    And to the first poster — NO, the two trains of thought should NOT be unified, as we can serve ONLY ONE GOD!! Also perhaps it was an oversight, but I don’t appreciate your writing about God (Creator of the universe) and spelling His name with a “small g”!! He is to be worshipped, He is to be praised, and even as special and holy as His Word is, yet His name is magnified even above His Word. {Psalm 138:2}

    And for the record, Scripture = FACTS!!!

    Jesus alone is the way, THE TRUTH, and the life!

  4. Dear RJ

    Thank you for your kindest words, but ALL THANKS goes to Jesus Christ who called me non stop throughout my young life as He does with everyone – I was laden with guilt, a knowledge that I was sinning, constantly unhappy trying to find happiness but found it no where…that I finally turned to Jesus Christ and cried out for 2 solid weeks begging Jesus for forgiveness and for salvation. And SAVED and FORGIVEN I surely was. :nod: All praise and thanks goes to Him. I am still a sinner and in no way even close to being ‘good’, I repent daily.

    After I was born again I had a lot to learn about Christianity which I knew nothing of, I knew a lot about the occult. I had no idea what it entailed to be a Christian so I hopped from one false ‘Christian’ church to another. I was very sad at first because as I sat in these churches, although I had never read the bible in my life, when I listened to the pastors preach what they said just did not sound biblical, the verses they would quote vs their explanation seemed totally contradictory to me. I didn’t realize at the time that it was the Holy Spirit in me illuminating my mind to the truth regarding the scriptures being read. I looked around me at the people glued to their seats, shouting ‘amens’ at INCORRECT teachings that smacked of the occult and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.

    Then it hit me, a desire unlike any, to start a website, to help people see the truth regarding the occult IN the Church. For people to see the truth through the power of the Holy Spirit and come out of this false church – for people to know the REAL JESUS CHRIST of the BIBLE, not the fake Christ presented at these false churches.

    Love you RJ.

  5. peaceforeternity says:

    Another interesting article Deb. You know God has used this blog to teach me an awful lot. Like you I’ve wondered from church to church in the past, but I was spiritually, blind, deaf, dumb. So many Christians say you’ll never find the perfect church. No, you will never find a church where saved people are perfect, but we can only hope to find a place that teaches the Bible in it’s entire purity and truth. Sad to say I can’t find any.

  6. RJ says:

    Awesome testimony! And I agree, ALL CREDIT goes to the Lord Jesus!!

    And goodness, we ALL continue (unwilinglly) in these fallen minds & bodies to sin…. yes, I hear ya’ on the repenting daily. Amen!! Cuz we’re already “bathed” … but do need that daily foot washing…

    Oh Girl, I’ve been so embarrassed & zipped an email to you earlieir today when I realized what I’d done. Horrors! I got it backwards with Psalm 138!! His WORD is elevated even above His name!!

    I knew this of course, yet should never be allowed a license to operate a computer keyboard & mouse when I’m still so tired!! :ohno:

    Thank you all for not holding it against me. Truly hate it when I mess up & make the Word say something it “does not” say [or vice versa]!! His Word is not to be handled flippantly.

    May we all be Bereans.

  7. Ovi says:

    Deborah, love your website and the feast of Scriptural information! :read:
    :yahoo: Very thankful to be guided here… :thankyou:

  8. Thank you Ovi!! :hi5:

    It’s Tom’s website too :yahoo: if it wasn’t for his Godly input DTW would be a lot smaller and reach less people.

  9. Thank you for you very insightful comment peaceforeternity.

    I know you have tried long and hard searching for a gospel preaching church to attend and have been badly hurt by the other church-goers and pastors who call themselves ‘Christians’. But know this, Jesus Christ will always be there for you and will never leave you or forsake you.

  10. Here are some comments on Facebook that I made regarding this Tree of Life.

    Tree of Life Facebook comment 1
    Facebook chat - tree of life - casting crowns

  11. The Bridge Church in Alberton where I attended (after being invited) for 1 service not so long ago and was totally shocked.
    Bridge Church is a 100% Purpose Driven church with occult teaching disguised as Christianity.

    Bridge Church Alberton - Tree of Life

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