The roots of contemplative prayer can be clearly traced back to a group of monks known as the desert fathers. These hermits of the early Middle Ages, who lived in the Middle Eastern deserts, devoted their lives to God and in trying to seek Him. Unfortunately, they obviously did not regard the Bible as sufficient in their search for Him and in learning how to pray, because they borrowed ideas from other religions, particularly it seems from Hinduism and Buddhism.
Ray Yungen stated in his book, A Time of Departing that the desert fathers thought that if they only practiced their Christianity based on the Bible they would “impoverish their spirituality.” Yungen also said, “…The desert fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere—anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus.”
Well, the whole idea of the desert fathers that the Bible is not sufficient is just wrong! 2 Timothy 3-16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Did you get that last phrase? It says that since all Scripture in inspired by God, if we read it and believe it, we will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Barnes in his Barnes Notes comments on this phrase: “The idea is, that whatever good work the man of God desires to perform, or however perfect he aims to be, he will find no deficiency in the Scriptures, but will find there the most ample instructions that he needs.”
Therefore, this says to me that the Bible is sufficient to show us how to pray and how to seek God. And if we have read and studied the Bible we would know this. For there are numerous passages in the Bible that teach us how to pray, why to pray, when to pray and where to pray. The Bible is like a prayer manual. It is loaded, packed full of scriptures that will guide us in prayer. Furthermore, I believe that every word of the Bible relates to or has a link to prayer, because the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, and He is the Spirit of prayer. Thus, when we prayerfully read it, He breathes into us the spirit of prayer and He takes every word and teaches us how to pray.
Arthur W. Pink says the following about the Bible’s completeness:
The Bible needs no addendum. There is more than sufficient in God’s Word to meet the temporal and spiritual needs of all mankind…the Bible is a source of blessing, will minister to every need, and is able to supply every variety of want…If every book but the Bible were destroyed not a single spiritual truth would be lost. In the small compass of God’s Word there is stored more wisdom that will endure the test of eternity than the sum total of thinking done by man since his creation.
Therefore, what I am saying is this: the desert fathers were wrong in going to other sources, especially to pagan religions to try to develop their prayers. And we are wrong also if we use contemplative prayer, because its source is not Biblical.