Basic Training, Prayer

Basic Training: 8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

When I was a little girl, I remember one of my Sunday School teachers saying, “Prayer is just talking to God.” With all the complex, confusing, convoluted, and even conflicting resources out there today on prayer, that sounds rather simplistic to our adult ears, but it’s still the best definition of prayer I’ve ever heard. Prayer is, indeed, simply talking to God.

And, along with studying God’s word and being a faithful member of a local church, it’s one of the three legs of the stool we call sanctification, or growth in Christ. Yet prayer is the leg that tends to be most neglected in our churches, our families, and our personal walk with the Lord.

Why is that? Why don’t we want to sit down and just talk – no frills, no weird machinations, just talk – to the most interesting, powerful, loving, and kind Being in the universe? If you received an invitation to sit down and chat with the President, your favorite celebrity, or a long lost loved one, you’d jump at the chance, right? I would, too. So what is it about our broken brains and hardened hearts that causes us to say, “Nah, not today,” to a simple monologue with our King? Those broken brains have learned some unbiblical things about prayer, and those hardened hearts have some ungodly attitudes toward prayer.

1. We don’t NEED God enough
Western Christians are pretty prosperous and self-sufficient people. We don’t have to cry out to God to provide food so we don’t starve. We have jobs and grocery stores. We don’t have to pray that we won’t be arrested for reading our Bibles or going to church, because that’s not happening where we live (yet). Except in the most dire of circumstances, we don’t have to plead with God to heal. We have doctors, hospitals, and medicine. Don’t get me wrong, those are all tremendous blessings, but one of the pitfalls of being blessed is that we start trusting in the blessing rather than trusting in the Blesser. And when that happens, we tend to pray less often and more superficially. Daily prayer is part of our battle to be dependent on God.

2. We’re idolaters
My husband’s uncle used to say, “You do what you want to do.” In other words, you spend your time and resources on the things you value most. I’m a Type A personality: workaholic, git ‘er done, ain’t got time to die. One of the reasons I neglect my own prayer time is that I don’t want to take time out of my busy schedule to stop and do nothing but pray. When I operate that way, I’m demonstrating that I don’t want to pray- that I love something else more than I love obeying God and spending time with Him. That’s idolatry.

3. We don’t trust God and His prescribed methods
When we’re in need, when we want to commune with God, when we want to grow in holiness, God’s way is for us to pray. Not climb the highest mountain or offer some amazing sacrifice or fulfill a bunch of items on a checklist- pray. But, to our fleshly hearts, this just doesn’t compute. It’s not enough. We’ve got to conjure up our own efforts and do something worthy of God acting on our behalf. Our hearts don’t trust God enough to simply take Him at His word, bring all of our requests to Him, and believe that He will take care of us. We don’t pray because we don’t trust God to follow through on His Word.

4. “Fervency” in prayer is qualitative, not quantitative
Sometimes we get it into our heads that being “fervent” in prayer means we have to constantly voice that prayer over and over in order to get God to give in and do what we want Him to do. But God’s provision isn’t dependent on our prayers. He truly does know what we need before we ask. In other words, you could stop praying right this minute for that thing you desperately want, and never pray about it again, and God is not going to forget that that’s what you want, or move it to a lower priority level on His prayer-answering list, or punish you by denying your request simply because you stopped praying about it. There are things God blesses us with that we’ve never spent a moment praying for. There are things we stop praying for that God finally gives us years later. And there are things we pray constantly for that God says “no” about. God is going to do what is best for you and what brings Him the most glory, and that doesn’t hinge on whether you pray about that specific thing every day or not. “Fervency” doesn’t mean repetition. It means an intense trust and dependence on God to do what is right in His eyes in response to your prayer. Sometimes it helps to examine a few good translations side by side:

5. Prayer isn’t a letter to Santa Claus
Back in the stone age of my childhood there used to be this thing called the Sears catalog. It was kind of like Amazon, but on paper. Every year, a few months before Christmas, they would publish their “Wish Book” edition that had all the toys in it. My sister and I would go through that catalog and circle all the things we wanted for Christmas and then hand it back to my parents, hoping that, this year, we’d get everything we asked for (and we asked for practically everything).

If this is how you approach prayer, you’re doing it wrong. God is not looking for you to provide Him with a list of stuff your greedy little heart desires so He can wrap it up in a bow and leave it under your tree. He’s not a wish-fulfillment center.

6. Weird stuff and unbiblical beliefs- knock it off
♦ Prayer is not a two-way conversation. We talk to God through prayer. He talks to us through His all-sufficient Word. Yes, while you’re praying, the Holy Spirit may remind you of Scripture that’s relevant to what you’re praying about, or bring to mind someone you should pray for, or you might think of a way you can help or bless someone, but prayer is not a dialogue. You don’t say your piece and then sit there and wait for God to say something back. That’s often called listening prayer or contemplative prayer, and it’s unbiblical. Likewise soaking prayer, sozo prayer, etc. In fact, if you see the word “prayer” preceded by an adjective not found in Scripture, it’s most likely not biblical.

♦ Prayer doesn’t require any special accessories. You don’t need to draw a circle to stand in, build a “war room,” blow a shofar, stroke a prayer cloth, or lay your hands on a prayer list, picture, object, etc. Scripture doesn’t tell us to do any of these things, and many of them are patently unbiblical.

♦ Prayer is not about you doing something, it’s about humbly beseeching God to do something. Nowhere in Scripture does God say that the purpose of prayer is for us to assert any power over anything through our words. He does not give us the authority to “bind” Satan, demons, or anything else, or “decree” or “declare” anything as though we could make something happen by doing so. These are false and unbiblical teachings of the heretical Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements.

7. Watch your language
♦ Having a “private prayer language” (speaking in “tongues”) as it is practiced today has zero basis in Scripture. None. When the disciples point blank asked Jesus to teach them to pray, there wasn’t a single “honda shonda” in His instructions, and nothing in Scripture says your prayers will be more meaningful to you or more likely to be heard by God if they’re in gibberish than if they’re in your native, real language.

♦ If you grew up fundie or old school, you might feel like you have to use “King James” lingo when you pray. You don’t. If you want to use “thee’s” and “thou’s” when you pray, you can, but you don’t have to. You can use the same vocabulary – respectful and pure speech, of course – you’d use when talking to a friend or loved one.

♦ If you’re tacking the phrase “in Jesus’ name” on to your decreeing and declaring and binding and rebuking as some sort of way to harness the power of God into making your words a reality, you’re taking God’s name in vain because you’re doing the same thing witches and pagans do when they use incantations and cast spells. “In Jesus’ name” isn’t the Christian version of “abracadabra.” To pray in Jesus’ name means to pray that what God wants – not what we want – will be done.

8. It isn’t about getting what we want. It’s about God getting what He wants.
We tend to think of prayer as a means to an end that centers around us. It’s a time to tell God what we want and need and for Him to fulfill those wants and needs, and that’s that. But is that how God thinks about prayer? God tells us to come to Him, to present our requests to Him, ask Him for daily bread, forgiveness, give thanks to Him, and a number of other things. But we also know that He is sovereign. He already knows what we need and what’s best for us, and He does what He pleases. So if God knows better than we do what we need, and if He’s going to do whatever He wants anyway, why bother praying, right?

We say things like that because we think the point of prayer is to get God to do what we want Him to do. But it’s not. The point of prayer is for God to get us to do what He wants us to do. He wants us to pray, not because He needs a “honey do” list, but because coming back to Him time and time again in prayer teaches us to depend on Him and trust Him. It strengthens our understanding of His power and sovereignty. It grows us in humility and submission. It conforms our will and our wants to His. It reminds us of our sin and the cross. It keeps us from taking God’s blessings for granted as we thank and praise Him. It helps us to want what God wants more than what we want.

Ultimately, prayer is not about what we want God to do for us. It’s about what He wants to do in us. So bow your head and close your eyes and make that daily time communing with the Lord your highest priority. God working through prayer to conform you to the image of Christ? That’s not something you want to say, “Nah, not today,” to.

Additional Resources


After this Manner, Therefore Pray

Can We Talk?

Listening to God Without Getting All Weird About It by David Appelt

Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell

Discernment, False Doctrine, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Reader’s Review of Wellspring Group

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at,
and let’s chat about it.

Yesterday, I published a new discernment article which included Wellspring Group. I did not find enough information online to be able to make a recommendation on whether or not this ministry is doctrinally sound. I subsequently heard from a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) who has had some personal experience with this organization and agreed to share her thoughts. Though I have no reason to doubt her word, neither can I vouch for her as I do not know her personally. This information is provided for your consideration, and to give you some things to watch for, should your church decide to take part in this program.

Objections to the Wellspring Process and Theology

Questionable interpretation of Scripture to fit the Wellspring model and process.

Proverbs 4:23 is the key verse for the Wellspring process of living wholeheartedly. The NIV translation is used, which says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The whole Wellspring “process” focuses on needing to understand our heart, that God is found in the deepest desires of our heart. This concept is not found anywhere in Scripture.

The Bible doesn’t describe God as being at the depth of our desires (in fact Jeremiah (17:9) said the heart is wicked and deceitful above all things, and beyond cure, and who can understand it?)

We are to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Luke 10:27), which indicates our whole being, not four different levels of our heart.

The NASB reads, “Watch over your hearts with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” When reading over Proverbs 4 in context we see that wisdom is the focus, not the desires of our heart. Wisdom is the thing we need to guard because from wisdom comes [abundant] life.

Verse 23 has to be pulled out of context to fit the Wellspring concept. The heart becomes the focus (and then an entire “process” is built from that assumption) when wisdom is real the focus of the passage. The Bible indicates that wisdom is what will provide the abundant life for us, not a deep and exhaustive understanding of our heart and its desires.

The manual says, “Follow your desires deep enough and you will find God and the image of God in you.” Where is this found in Scripture?

Hebrews 12:1 describes the “cloud of witnesses” and is understood by participants as people who have died who are watching us, as well as our “domain” – the community of people we are in contact with in our life. Biblically, the cloud of witnesses is not a group of people in Heaven watching us, they are believers who have passed on who witnessed the truths of Scripture and Jesus. Hebrews 11:39-40 describes who these people are. (How this plays out in the Wellspring process is described below under the Fellowship concept.

The cloud of witnesses is the group of people listed in Hebrews 11, “the great Hall of Faith”. The author of Hebrews ends chapter 11 with his main point for listing them, “they gained approval through their faith and didn’t receive what was promised because God provided something better.”

Chapter 12 begins with “Therefore”, i.e. because God provided something better than fulfilling the promises He made to these people during their lifetime, we “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race set before us.”

The point of 12:1 is not that the cloud of witnesses will protect us and whisper to us and propel us into God’s story. The manual includes, “Praying the Four Realities” citing, “I see the Communion of Saints surrounding me and cheering me on to persevere all the way to the final Consummation.” Biblically they are not a group of people cheering us on, their lives left us a legacy to be followed.

The “Fellowship” concept.

The Fellowship is described as consisting of the Trinity, the Body of Christ, the Word of God in Scripture and the Communion of Saints (the cloud of witnesses). A circular drawing in the manual indicates that all four parts of the Fellowship are equal. Supposedly this “Fellowship desires to protect you.”

The communion of saints, whether defined as Wellspring does or as the Bible does, ARE NOT equal with the Trinity.

The Battle for Your Heart manual describes this Fellowship as one entity, having characteristics of personality:

“The Fellowship is pursuing you.”

It is suggested that we interact with this “entity”, “Above all else, do whatever it takes to cooperate with the Fellowship that desires to protect you.”

This entity supposedly motivates us, “The Fellowship not only desires to protect you but also to propel you into your part of the Story as an intimate ally.”

This entity supposedly talks to us – members are asked after viewing a clip from the movie Bagger Vance, “What do you hear the Fellowship whispering to you through this scene?” Later in the manual the same question is asked after viewing a clip from Good will Hunting. (If by “whisper” they merely means “teach” then why doesn’t he use the word teach? Why make it creepy?)

The Fellowship supposedly “walks with us” – on the website under a description of the Women’s program it says this, “It’s a rigorous, demanding experience that opens up your whole hearts, gives you clear path to change and connects you to The Fellowship that will walk with you into your part of God’s Larger Story.”

Participants are told that The Fellowship through God’s voice will give you a new name – this is a misconstruing of Revelation 2:17. Jesus will give us a new name after He returns. This indicates that we can receive personal revelation from Jesus, which is not Scriptural.

The manual states “The only way you can win that Battle (for your heart) and live in your part of the Story that is yours and yours alone is through intimately engaging with the Fellowship that desires to protect you and propel you into that Story.”

Again, this is not Scriptural. That statement follows this one, “only through your heart can you discover and live in your part of God’s Story.” Wellspring has missed the emphasis of the Bible – that we are to understand God by studying Scripture (not our heart) and then to think and behave by following Jesus’ example and the illustrations presented by the lives of people who did what pleased God.

Exclusivity – which is bound to cause division among people, between the Wellspringers and the nonWellspringers who don’t understand the lingo and are not “living out of their whole heart”.

They indicate that the deeper life is only found through Wellspring. The creator of Wellspringclaims that rarely do people learn to live out of their “whole heart” without the Wellspring process. This quote is found on the website under the Process for Women, “There is something in the life of every woman that fuels her deepest desires – for relationship, for value, for connecting with her destiny. The Bible calls this hidden source of life a wellspring. Few find it. But for those who do, a world of change is possible. The Battle for the Heart process helps you discover this wellspring in your own life.”

Wellspring alone. People are encouraged not to do any other small groups besides Wellspring – on the website under FAQs there is a question, “Can I participate in this process and another small group at the same time?” The answer says that’s up to them but “many find that they need to back off of another group for a year in order to fully engage in the Battle for the Heart process.” So does that mean no other Bible study is needed? That should send up warning flags. It has been observed that many of the participants drop out of Bible studies in order devote all their time to studying the Wellspring concepts, which is NOT a Bible study.

Wellspring has the secret. (Very gnostic) The manual states that “unless you understand the context of this Story (God’s Larger Story) and where you are in it, you will be confused, disoriented, effectively taken out of the battle.” The booklet doesn’t describe what this Larger Story is, so obviously you have to attend the retreat to gain this information if you don’t want to be confused, disoriented, etc. The Larger Story is described in the workbook as something you can only find by living “wholeheartedly” out of the four levels of your heart. And unless you learn the Wellspring process you won’t be able to do that.

The manual states, “We can only be fully human as we experience the redemptive love of Christ at all four levels of our hearts and then express that love from all four levels of our hearts.” Unless you take the WS courses you won’t know what the four levels are because they are not taught in the Bible.

Completely new vocabulary. This can cause two groups at church – those who understand the vocabulary and those who do not. Throughout the entire booklet there is new vocabulary that no one will understand unless they go to the retreat. There isn’t enough information in the booklet to define this vocabulary and it is used very differently from biblical language.

God’s Larger Story. What is larger than the story of redemption through Jesus and learning to live according to His commands and by His example? You have to attend the retreat to find out what this larger story is and how you fit into it.

Implication that a church is insufficient without the inculcation Wellspring process.

People are encouraged on the website to get their churches involved as partners with Wellspring after they attend all four retreats.

Under the FAQs the question is asked, “Why consider the Battle for the Heart Community Process?” The answer shows the reader their absolute need for this process (that can’t be found anywhere else but Wellspring), “When leaders are not living from their whole hearts (defined biblically as their thoughts feelings, desires and choices), their lives suffer, their relationships suffer, and their service in the body of Christ is hindered.” Then several examples are listed of what this looks like:

“People will talk about the love of God, but don’t experience that love in a way that results in significant, sustained change.”

“Achieve objectives, but often with significant collateral relational damage.”

“Unconsciously seek approval from God through performance instead of
performance flowing out of love for God and being loved by God.”

“Live in marriages where they are committed to their spouses, but there is little true intimacy, and they become “roommates on the way to heaven.”

“Become unable to effectively experience and express their own emotions and desires or effectively experience the desires and emotions of those they love the most.”

While some of those statements may be true in some people’s lives, Wellspring is not the only place to find healing in these areas, yet the website indicates that “few find it” aside from learning and following the Wellspring concepts. The Word of God is what changes us, “For the Word of God is living and active…” Hebrews 4:12a ESV.

Implied insufficiency of Scripture.

Film clips are used during the courses to illustrate the four levels of the heart and the elevator model of the heart. The manual states, “To assist you in getting in touch with all four levels of your heart we will ask questions after film clips and in your team meetings designed to help you go down the elevator.”

This is a huge red flag – The films they show clips of are made by Hollywood and rarely based on Scriptural principles. While they can have good illustrations about life, they should not be substituted for the Word of God when we are trying to grow closer to God.

The manual states that connecting on all four levels is really only possible with other Wellspring attendants, as implied in the manual, “Knowing your own heart at all four levels is the foundation for effectively connecting with others at all four levels of their heart.”

Again, this is secret knowledge that only those that attend Wellspring will gain, implying that the Bible alone is not sufficient for learning how to effectively connect with others.

The Bible is not the only source of Wellspring ideas, the manual states that “The Battle for the Heart draws upon ancient spiritual disciplines, such as reflective reading of Scripture, contemplative prayer and the power of intimate fellowship, and places them in an organic structure.”

The website at one time recommended reading books by John Eldridge’s and David Benner, who are both followers of “mystic” Christianity.

Overall, the Wellspring program encourages an unhealthy focus on self. Supposedly we find God from intense introspection, understanding an unbliblical concept of our heart and its four levels, searching within our deepest desires and through watching movie clips to gain insight. All of that is NOT what Scripture teaches.

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?


I keep seeing you and other discerning Christians mentioning the “NAR” or “New Apostolic Reformation.” Is that some sort of new church denomination? Is it bad? What is it, and what do they believe?

This is one of those questions that others have answered so much better than I could ever hope to, so I’m going to give a brief synopsis and then urge you to study the articles and videos in the “Additional Resources” section.

Yes, the NAR is bad. Extremely bad. In my opinion, it is the worst form of false doctrine in the United States today because so many people think it is biblical Christianity and unknowingly import it into reasonably doctrinally sound churches. I mean, I’ve never heard of Anytown Baptist Church teaching (as Christianity) that Mohammed was a prophet or that God lives next door to the planet Kolob, but you’ll certainly see NAR beliefs and practices like dominionism, unbiblical manifestations of the “Holy Spirit” and NAR prayer practices gradually creeping into many average evangelical churches.

The NAR is not a denomination in the way we would typically think of, say, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), etc. There’s no headquarters building, no national president or leadership structure, no official creed or statement of beliefs, no membership criteria for admitting or dismissing churches. It’s more of a movement or a “denomination by imitation.” Pastors and/or church members of non-NAR churches generally discover an NAR church, book, or personality, decide they like what they see, and begin importing NAR beliefs and practices into their own church.

What are those beliefs and practices? Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, what it looks like externally is that the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit, such as: holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, grave sucking, raising the dead, trips to Heaven, and being “drunk in the Spirit.”

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer (which we see creeping into churches through the teachings of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, and others), lectio divina, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism and the restoration of the church offices of apostle and prophet.

A Few NAR Organizations and Personalities
Bethel Church (Redding, CA.) led by Bill Johnson
Bethel Music (a music performance/production company of Bethel Church)
Jesus Culture (an arm of Bethel) led by Kim Walker Smith
International House of Prayer (Kansas City, MO) led by Mike Bickel

(You could sort of call these entities “Ground Zero” for the NAR. Much of what is believed and practiced in NAR churches trickles down in some form from these organizations.)

Todd White
Kenneth Hagin
Dutch Sheets
Ken and Gloria Copeland
Todd Bentley
Patricia King
Wendy Alec (GodTV)
Jennifer LeClaire (Charisma Magazine)
Beni Johnson
Cindy Jacobs
Rick Joyner
Amanda Wells
Rod Parsley
Jen Johnson
Kris Valloton
Heidi Baker

Two of the main ways NAR false doctrine begins infiltrating otherwise healthy churches is through the music ministry and the women’s ministry. Many churches use Jesus Culture music, Bethel music (or other music by NAR musicians) in their worship services, which can introduce church members to the band, and, subsequently, to their false doctrine. Examine the materials your women’s ministry is using and the conferences they’re attending. It’s likely that the authors and teachers your women’s ministry follows are either proponents of NAR false doctrine, partnering with proponents of NAR false doctrine, or at least being influenced by proponents of NAR false doctrine.

The New Apostolic Reformation is heresy and has no place in a Christian church in any way, shape, or form. Stay far away from it.

Additional Resources:

New Apostolic Reformation by Apologetics Index

New Apostolic Reformation by Berean Research

Truth & Transformation (video series) with Costi Hinn and Justin Peters

Clouds Without Water by Justin Peters

False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church by Berean Examiner

The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception  by Messed Up Church

Drunk in the Spirit by Todd Friel

Popular False Teachers see links for “International House of Prayer (IHOP)” and “Jesus Culture/Bethel Music/Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bill Johnson”

God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

What is the International House of Prayer? (IHOP) by Got Questions

The Dangers of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) by CARM

Love and Death in the International House of Prayer by Rolling Stone

Leaving the NAR Church testimony series by Amy Spreeman

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag, Prayer

The Mailbag: What is Contemplative Prayer?


What is contemplative prayer, and is it biblical?

Contemplative prayer, often called centering prayer, (and connected to sozo prayer and soaking prayer) is very much like a “Christianized” transcendental meditation (similar to New Age or Buddhist meditation). You are supposed to sit quietly, empty your mind, and repeat a biblical word or phrase over and over until you begin “hearing from God.”

Is this a biblical form of prayer? No, and it is also very dangerous. Many who have come out of this practice and churches or organizations which promote it (the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, and Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, are major proponents) report that contemplative prayer is much like being hypnotized and that it was an open door for demonic opression and even possession.

Our beliefs and worship practices are to be drawn from Scripture, and nowhere in Scripture are we told to pray like this. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He did not tell them to empty their minds and repeat a mantra. He said,

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Matthew 6:7-13

Jesus taught us to talk to God using intelligible words, worshiping Him, repenting and seeking His forgiveness, and asking Him to provide for our needs. It is not His desire that we mimic a pagan form of meditation.

Additional Resources:

What is Contemplative Prayer? at Got Questions

What is Centering Prayer? at Got Questions

Contemplative Prayer at Berean Research

IHOP is Dangerous: Stephanie’s Testimony

If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Adult Coloring and Meditation – What Every Christian Should Know

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at,
and let’s chat about it.

jessica pickowicz adult coloring

Adult Coloring and Meditation –
What Every Christian Should Know

by Jessica Pickowicz

Last February, during our family staycation, I bought my first adult coloring book… And I even colored in it…. Phew… There. I said it. I feel so relieved to get that off my chest!

It seems a bit crazy that I would be even a little ashamed or intimidated to admit that publicly. But here it is. And right now there is an argument peppering Twitter and the blogosphere regarding Christians and the adult coloring fad. Some are mocking; others are getting offended; and still others are sitting back with popcorn in one hand and a stick in the other; poking the bear! Even I have, regretfully, thrown my hat into the ring. I say regretfully because (though hilarious) it seems somewhat petty and snarky and self-righteous to bash adult coloring. After all, as Tim Challies articulates in his recent article on the topic, it is just a hobby – like golfing, knitting, tennis, or painting “happy little trees”. Furthermore, it can very well be exercised all to the glory of God. And I, lover of adult coloring, respond with a hearty, “Amen!”

Challies is right. When it is just a hobby, adult coloring is a perfectly innocent past-time. It’s fun. It’s calming. It’s clean! It’s a great mommy alternative to the My Little Pony and Ninja Turtle coloring books when coloring with the kids. It’s even occupational and physical therapy, bringing vibrancy, joy, and art into the hands of people struggling with dementia, depression, ADHD, Autism, and those with fine-motor and sensory struggles brought on by neurological diseases such as ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s — just to name a few. By itself, adult coloring is a beautiful thing!

Sadly, what many people don’t know is that there is another fad sweeping the nation, and adult coloring books are at the heart of it. The fad is meditative coloring. And it’s infiltrating the prayer lives of Christian women everywhere.

Meditative coloring is the practice of coloring specific patterns while emptying the mind, allowing thoughts to roam free, and achieving spiritual enlightenment. Some of these specific patterns are called mandalas. Mandalas are spiritual symbols and patterns used by Eastern religions for meditation purposes “allowing the individual meditating to become one with the Universe.”¹ And it’s a challenge to find an adult coloring book that isn’t riddled with them.

Gaining popularity, a few laps ahead of meditative coloring, is the practice among Christians of contemplative prayer. I don’t have the space here to go into a detailed explanation of this heresy. But it’s important to educate yourself, and you can read about it here. With the rise of the Word of Faith movement, the Prosperity movement, the increasing popularity of women authors such as Priscilla Shirer and Sarah Young, and movies such as War Room; prayer as defined by and commanded in the Bible has been grossly shirked aside (by women especially) in favor of a more ecstatic, meditative, emotional, new-age, and downright heretical experience.

I conflate meditative coloring and contemplative prayer in this article because I feel that contemplative prayer is a very slippery slope that lends itself too easily to the practice of meditative coloring, especially with the massive output of Christian and Inspirational themed adult coloring books.

A warning to Christian women dabbling in these practices:

My aim is not to be harsh here, but I must be serious for a moment. The Bible teaches us how to pray. Moreover, it commands us to pray and meditate in very specific terms — the only right way according to God. If we are not praying as Scripture commands, we are not obeying God and are therefore in sin.

Please do not use these coloring books in conjunction with prayer and meditation, contemplative or otherwise. Do not empty your mind. Ladies, please do not sit down to color and wait for a word from
God! Please do not chant over and over (as in a mantra) a declarative “life-verse” from a page in your Scripture coloring book. Do not allow yourself to be entranced through the exercise of meditative coloring. These practices are pagan. They are the very thing Scripture warns against.

How the Bible Commands us to pray and meditate:

1. Don’t empty your mind. Fill your mind with the Truth of God’s Holy Word!

Meditation as practiced by Eastern religions is much different than the meditation commanded in the Bible. While Eastern meditation focuses on emptying the mind and a spiritual ascension into enlightenment; Scriptural meditation focuses on setting the mind on a biblical truth and a realized application of that truth.

In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul instructs us not to conform with the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds are renewed through the study of His Word. We must store up His word in our hearts, and let it dwell in us richly, so that we don’t sin against Him (Colossians 3:16 and Psalm 119:11).

2. Don’t let your thoughts wander. Take your thoughts captive and put them in obedience to Christ!

When we allow our thoughts to wander, the carnal mind, which is enmity toward God (Romans 8:7) roams to fleshly desires and frightening depths; and the deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) cannot discern sin on its own. Therefore, we must take our thoughts captive and put them into submission to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)!

So you see, a deceitful heart and a wandering mind are the perfect ingredients for a false prophetic word from God. Today, in the Church Age, God speaks to us through his Word not meditative prayer!

3. Don’t chant things over and over as a mantra. Memorize his word. Having a controlled mind is a spiritual discipline commanded in Scripture.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus instructs, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetition as the heathen [Pagans] do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter instructs Christians further to “gird up the loins [the loose fabric] of your mind,
be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (See also Ephesians 6:14); and to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers (1 Peter 4:7).”

4. Do not attempt to manipulate God through positive confession. Instead, ask Him.

We must not assume anything upon God. We must not treat Him like a Genie and demand His blessings according to what is right in our own eyes (Proverbs 21:2). For His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)!

In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul instructs, “Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

5. Finally, Jesus and the faithful heroes/heroines of Scripture provides us with the best models of prayer. Be imitators of them!

John 17:1-26 – Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.
Luke 11:1-13 – Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.
Luke 1:46-55 – Mary’s prayer, The Magnificat.
Ephesians 3:14-21 – Here, the Apostle Paul models prayer, along with many other places in the Bible.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Prayer is powerful when practiced as God commands in His Word. Use it wisely. For the prayer of the righteous accomplishes much (James 5:16).

All this to say, let’s keep our prayers and our coloring hobbies separate.

¹”MANDALAS, WHAT ARE THEY?” at Spiritual Awakening

Jessica is wife to New England pastor Nate Pickowicz. She is a homeschooling mom of two. She is a passionate writer who has a big heart for biblical teaching and women’s ministry.