Verdict: The evidence shows that Priscilla Shirer injects foreign beliefs and practices into Christianity and that there is a long persistent history of association with false teachers.
At the request of one of our readers, we have been asked to investigate whether Priscilla Shirer is a false teacher. You can make a request here, and we will honor it. It is a source of joy to be trusted in such a way. It is most reasonable to have never heard of Priscilla Shirer, but part of what we want to do in our Discernment ministry is to go beyond the low hanging fruits like a Joel Osteen or Paula White.
Shirer is an actress and speaker in Christian circles. This comes with multiple books and Bible studies. Her filmography in Christian circles is substantial. She was the female lead in War Room (2015), a supporting actress in the ultra-profitable I Can Only Imagine (2018), and the lead in the most recent big Christian film, Overcomer (2019). Her presence in Christian film is perhaps only in its beginning. This has vaulted her into a shining star and voice in women’s ministry.
The first red flag came about in a cursory online search. She is the daughter of Tony Evans. Tony Evans is a false teacher. Reformation Charlotte reports his heresy here using this interview he gave here. Though it would seem that his daughter is a more potent voice in the church. This relationship was the first red flag. It is not definitive in and of itself however does put her on a Category 1 at a minimum.
Association With False Teachers
Here’s a list of false teachers documented by Michelle Leslie here:
- Joyce Meyer
- Brian Houston and Bobbie Houston
- Joel and Victoria Osteen
- Christine Caine
- Jen Hatmaker
- Todd White
In addition to heresy in the family, Priscilla Shirer runs with several of Big Eva’s biggest low hanging fruitcakes. It’s not the sinners we as Christians should shun, it’s the false teachers and fake Christians. This lack of discernment is disturbing.
Statement of Faith
The statement of faith on Priscilla Shirer’s Going Beyond Ministries website:
We believe that in His death and by His shed blood, the Lord Jesus Christ made a perfect atonement for sin and redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Men are saved and justified on this simple and single foundation. We believe that such salvation with its forgiveness of sins, its impartation of a new nature, and its hope of eternal life, is entirely apart from good works, baptism, church membership or man’s effort and is of pure grace.
Our sin is the source of the curse, not the law. The law is good. That which is good is not what binds us. The law, being good, is intended to show us that we need a savior. It is sin that enslave us and condemns us. Christ fulfills the law. This statement isolated is wrong but with a more complete reading of the statement of faith, it’s not impossible Priscilla Shirer to slip into antinomianism, not that she has, because the faith statement is conflicting on Christian’s relationship with the law.
Questionable Teachings Book
This one-word title book was a best seller in its niche, putting her on a level of Beth Moore. This movie is basically the book form of the ideas behind War Room. Now War Room is a cheesy Christian movie that is about a woman finding a mentor that shows her that praying is how you fight for your marriage. Apart from much of the other ideas of Shirer, the film is innocuous because of how much subtly it lacks in message. Perhaps we underestimate how many people devote closets to prayer. But the idea that one needs a special room or space to pray is not biblical. And the joke at the end where the guy buying the house feel’s God because of the former war room, is about as far as the film takes mysticism. Aimee Byrd of 21Reformation in her review notes:
Shirer is in tune with the areas where women struggle. Each chapter cleverly begins with a strategy like, “If I were your enemy, I’d seek to dim your passion” (25), or “I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself” (55). I found myself flitting back and forth between agreement and “yeah buts” in this book. Shirer is so good at honing in on the gritty challenges women fight, she wants us to be more aware of spiritual warfare, and each chapter ends with a couple of pages of scripture related to its topic that we should use in prayer.
Shirer is really in tuned to women’s struggles but is the epitome of a saying. Catholics see Mary everywhere and Protestants see the devil everywhere. And she sees the devil behind every rock.
Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking
Priscilla Shirer writing her version of Experiencing God (recommend). Still the irony of someone who can smell a false teacher writing a book on discernment is enough to discredit this teaching on its face.
Interestingly enough, Priscilla Shirer’s books all have five-star reviews with thousands of respondents. Negative reviews on Amazon were pestered by the book’s supporters. It’s important to note that authors get their biggest fans to review the book at or prior to its release, so do not let these numbers deter your suspicion. That is also an indication of how her followers handle criticism of her.
Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism
One of the major observations from other discernment ministries is that Priscilla Shirer is a major proponent of contemplative prayer. It’s important to define contemplative prayer and Got Questions ministry does a good job.
Contemplative prayer has slowly increased in practice and popularity along with the rise of the emerging church movement—a movement which embraces many unscriptural ideas and practices. Contemplative prayer is one such practice.
Contemplative prayer begins with “centering prayer,” a meditative practice where the practitioner focuses on a word and repeats that word over and over for the duration of the exercise. The purpose is to clear one’s mind of outside concerns so that God’s voice may be more easily heard. After the centering prayer, the practitioner is to sit still, listen for direct guidance from God, and feel His presence.
Although this might sound like an innocent exercise, this type of prayer has no scriptural support whatsoever. In fact, it is just the opposite of how prayer is defined in the Bible. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24). These verses and others clearly portray prayer as being comprehendible communication with God, not an esoteric, mystical meditation.
Contemplative prayer, by design, focuses on having a mystical experience with God. Mysticism, however, is purely subjective, and does not rely upon truth or fact. Yet the Word of God has been given to us for the very purpose of basing our faith, and our lives, on Truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we know about God is based on fact; trusting in experiential knowledge over the biblical record takes a person outside of the standard that is the Bible.
Contemplative prayer is no different than the meditative exercises used in Eastern religions and New Age cults. Its most vocal supporters embrace an open spirituality among adherents from all religions, promoting the idea that salvation is gained by many paths, even though Christ Himself stated that salvation comes only through Him (John 14:6). Contemplative prayer, as practiced in the modern prayer movement, is in opposition to biblical Christianity and should definitely be avoided.
The gist of Priscilla Shirer’s teachings is that when we pray, we need to focus more on listening to God. And we listen to God by emptying our minds, so that God can fill it.
But this is hardly biblical and it is rather mystic. The idea that in order to hear God we need to empty our minds is the opposite of what I would teach or recommend. If we want to hear God, we should meditate on his Word.
1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3 NASB
13With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word
Psalm 119:13-16 NASB
8This 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 success.
Joshua 1:8 NASB
The Bible is clear on meditation being in God’s Word and deed. It’s not an emptying of one’s mind so that God can fill it, it’s a focus on his word and deed so that you can discern what God is telling you to do in life. An idle mind invites all sorts of evil.
13At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
1 Timothy 5:13-14 NASB
While it’s important to note that this verse is about widows living and not working, its important to realize that the target audience for this verse is similar to the target audience of Priscilla Shirer. Paul warns that idleness leads to sin. Emptying your mind so that you can be ready to perceive a burning bush moment is not a practice found in Scripture. An idle mind can hardly be a means of meditation if idle hands are an invitation for temptation Such is the danger of contemplative prayer.
Eastern mysticism is the biggest spiritual issue that can be observed from Priscilla Shirer’s teachings. The promotion of contemplative prayer is mystical additive to Christianity that is not found in Scripture. In addition to promoting mysticism, it is clear that Priscilla Shirer demonstrates a persistent pattern of associating with and promoting false teachers within evangelicalism. For such reasons of lacking discernment, it is inadvisable for Christians to read and use Priscilla Shirer’s material. We do not have enough evidence to speculate as to her salvation. Nor would we consider her a greater danger to the church than her colleague, Beth Moore. Once again there is a difference between being an intentional plant of Satan and being mistaken on key issues. Priscilla Shirer hybrids Christianity with new age-y eastern mysticism which poses a danger undermining biblical instruction, most specifically among women. This syncretism is yet another reason we advise against her material.
 In the past, we have contemplated making a verdict on Tony Evans, but have not felt the urgency. The focus of this verdict is not on Evans, and so we will not go deeper into that. Here is an additional resource on Evans.
 Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry & Richard Blackaby, and Claude King