Chanting dulls the mind
God instructs us to meditate on His Word. The original Hebrew Word for “meditate” also means to “mutter, roar, speak, talk, or utter”. In Joshua 1:8, God calls us to mutter His Word to ourselves day and night. World religions also teach their followers to mutter prayers, mantras or sounds. The idea is that the more someone empties oneself and chants, the more enlightened a person can become. This contradicts the Bible.
Joshua 1:8 ESV This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
There are numerous worldly chanting rituals. There is the chanting of “om” during meditation, as well as African chants, Aboriginal chants, Gregorian chants, Vedic chants, Qur’an reading, Buddhist chants and repetitive prayers done in some churches.
Chanting to call on the power behind “om”
Many yoga classes begin and end with chanting “om” three times. The “om” mantra from Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism is said to represent the ultimate source of everything in this universe. A yoga website says that “Om is called the seed sound (bija), the original sound from which all other sounds and worlds come from. This is why Om is said to represent God, Bhraman, Source, Universal Consciousness. Because it has the power to create everything.” Hinduism and yoga worshippers claim that om is the beginning and the end of all things – in direct opposition to God’s Word, which tells us that the God of the Bible is the One who is the beginning and the end.
Revelation 22:13 ESV I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
When someone chants “om”, they are essentially calling upon Hindu spiritual powers. When believers sit through a session where other people are chanting and calling upon other spiritual powers, it is not much different from walking into temples and passively participating in idol worship. God will not condone such practices. We are stewards of our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, and should honour God first with what we do.
2 Corinthians 6:16-17 ESV What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
Calling upon any idolatrous name will only lead to destruction. We see an example from the Bible when the prophets of Baal (Satan’s other name) repeatedly chanted his name, in a spiritual confrontation with God’s prophet, Elijah.
In this example, God’s prophet and Baal’s prophets were strongly opposed to each other in a life-and-death contest. Elijah called upon God just once, but the other prophets called Baal from morning to noontime without any result. Baal’s worshippers were eventually slaughtered for their idolatry.
1 Kings 18:26,36-40 ESV And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made… And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
As followers of Jesus, we are to call on His name only, not participate in calling “om” or any other idolatrous name – whether actively or passively. As 2 Corinthians 6:17 points out, we are to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them“. Jesus’ name is the authority under which every being in the entire universe will bow down to, That is the only name we should call upon or chant.
Philippians 2:10 ESV so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Chanting is also a witchcraft practice
It is useful to note that the Bible also mentions another type of spiritual muttering. The prophet Isaiah describes mediums that engage in “whisperings and mutterings” as they consult spirits for guidance. This is essentially what the prophets of Baal were doing. Chanting is also a practice used in witchcraft. God says that such people “contradict His Word” and are “completely in the dark”.
Isaiah 8:19-20 NLT Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
Many forms of witchcraft rely on spells and chants. A website on witchcraft explains that “casting a spell is all about directing your mental energies towards a goal… stating your goal clearly and in a ritualized way.” When we chant, it is almost as if we are repeatedly saying a spell over ourselves in a self-effort to calm our nerves or to seek deeper spirituality.
Chanting numbs our brain’s processing powers
Chanting has both spiritual and mental consequences.
A University of Hong Kong study published in 2017 looked at how chanting affects the brain using MRI scans. It found that it de-activates the brain’s emotional motor system, which is responsible for the way we experience and express emotions. The study said that practising chants dulls our ability to process things cognitively and emotionally.
The Bible warns us not to become “dull” in our ability to process truth and reality. This is how the god of this world, Satan, can “blind our minds”. Ungodly chanting invites the wrong type of spiritual influence into our lives.
Hebrews 5:11 ESV About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
In fact, the Bible repeatedly warns us to be sober-minded and watchful against the schemes of our enemy. We are to be mentally alert and prepared for action, not to be dulled or unknowingly practice a form of witchcraft.
1 Peter 5:8 ESV Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 1:13 ESV Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Mind-numbing prayers do not please God either
Another form of ungodly mutterings is spiritual-sounding prayer chants or prayers filled with “empty phrases”.
Matthew 6:7 ESV “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.
God desires authentic conversations with us, not repetitive and robotic prayer phrases that dull our minds. We are to love God with all our minds. The Bible instructs us to consciously “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” as this is His will for us. Let us ensure that “the meditations of our hearts” and “the words of our mouths” are acceptable to God.
Matthew 22:37 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Psalm 19:14 ESV Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Always be filled with the Holy Spirit
As followers of Jesus, His Holy Spirit is to occupy everything that we are – our minds, hearts or souls. It is therefore ungodly to consider “emptying” ourselves just to focus on a prayer or a chant.
Acts 13:52 ESV And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
When we choose to empty ourselves, we are essentially rejecting God’s presence in us. Instead of filling our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, with God, we ask Him to leave. That is when Satan will attempt to take over and fill us with his evil spirits so as to wreck rebellion and destruction. As we can see from the example of Ananias, this sadly led to his immediate death.
Acts 5:3,5 ESV But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit … When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
Testimony: Chanting invites the wrong spiritual influences
Winnie Chau, a certified yoga instructor who turned her life over to Jesus Christ, shares her experience with chanting.
“After I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I continued doing yoga. But this time, I experienced a crazy splitting headache as the whole class chanted “om”. It was as if some unseen force was going against my mind. This never happened to me before I made the conscious decision to follow Jesus. I had to step outside the yoga studio to release the pain. I realised that the chanting and yoga itself are spiritual in nature. I repented for doing yoga and stopped chanting altogether.
Recently, I found that replaying songs with ungodly lyrics can be a form of chanting over yourself too. There was one song I repeated for two days non-stop. I found myself becoming angry and picked fights with people. Everything that I had in me was not showing the fruit of the Holy Spirit – until I repented to God and asked the Holy Spirit to renew me.”
Be sober-minded and alert
God calls us to be “sober-minded for the sake of our prayers” because these are the Last Days when many forms of ungodly teachings and ideas will proliferate. Not everything that is considered “good” in the world’s point of view is something disciples of Jesus Christ should be following. If we cannot envisage Jesus mindlessly chanting prayers, then we should probably avoid it as well.
1 Peter 4:7 ESV The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
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