Mystically Wired by Ken Wilson claims to be “a practical guide to cooperating with your brain’s innate capacities in order to experience a richer, fuller prayer life.” Wilson bases much of his doctrine of prayer on new discoveries by Andrew Newberg et al that suggests that the brain is uniquely active during prayer and meditation. Based on these findings, Wilson attempts to show why contemplative prayer practices are affective and how anyone can begin such practices.

It is odd that Wilson advocates mysticism while dismissing the supernatural. In all fairness, Wilson denies being a mystic, yet he recounts a vision in which he met with Jesus in a cave and another prayer where the “presence” of his deceased father sat next to him. Wilson is attempting to dwindle all things spiritual to brain chemistry. In other words, he is defining the supernatural in terms of the natural. He claims that praying is essentially looking “inward.” This ought to be the first clue that Wilson’s prayers have very little to do with Christ.

Throughout the book, prayer is presented as a way to manipulate brain activity in order produce results. Thus, Christ is of no consequence to prayer. This may be very true regarding the scientific link between brain activity and certain meditative practices. It is also true of various drugs, exercise, and other activities. However, the Christian in prayer is not looking for chemistry. He or she is looking for communication with Almighty God. The “prayer” of this book is not that kind of communication.

Thomas Nelson publishers provided this book to me, free of charge, in exchange for a review. One question I am to address is, “Did the author convey biblical truth?” In fact, there is virtually no biblical foundation for Wilson’s doctrine of prayer. Though he does quote a few verses, they nothing more than weak proof-texts. The gospel is absent. The cross is reduced down to nothing more than a “desolate place” of prayer.

There are some that would say that people are afraid of new methods and are thus cautious concerning books like this one. Let me be clear. It is not the method, but the doctrine that is problematic here. If someone were looking for a book on prayer, they would be best to stick with the classics. May I suggest The works of E.M. Bounds on prayer? Or perhaps simply reflecting on what it means to have a life in Christ? Jesus Manifesto is a great resource for such meditation. Someone wanting a deeper prayer life need not be distracted by tricks of the imagination, but should seek to embrace a life in Christ. Mystically Wired adds nothing to such a life.