Dr. Tony Mariot answers, The information about the “out-of-body” experience is vast and subjective. One out of ten people claim to have had an out-of-body experience, and there are many different types of the experiences people claim to have had. They range from involuntary out-of-body experiences or near-death experiences that happen after or during a trauma or accident, to what is called “astral projection" in which a person voluntarily tries to leave their body behind and ascend to a spiritual plane where one believes they will find truth and clarity.
A few famous Christians have had what might be called, in today’s world, an out-of-body experience, most notably the Apostle Paul.
2 Corinthians 12:1-4, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
In the verses preceding this passage in Chapter 11, Paul lists his "boasts" or the things that, if he were counting on works and good deeds to secure his salvation, would get him into heaven. Though he seems to be referring to a third party in these accounts, he is speaking of himself in the third person. Therefore, he is including this apparent out-of-body experience in his list of boasts. The point he is making is that any revelation that comes from outside the Bible is not a reliable source, Paul says in a nutshell, "There is nothing to be gained by it."
This does not mean that his out-of-body experience wasn't real, only that he is not relying on it to give him truth or to benefit himself or other people in any way.
An involuntary out-of-body experience or a near-death experience, like Paul's, should be treated in the same way as a dream in the life of a Christian—your mind goes to a place that may relay feelings and visual continuity that is memorable, but a dream is not necessarily something that is a vision from God. A vision is accompanied with clear memory of the events after you awake and is in complete agreement with Gods word.
It may follow some direction that you should take with respect to a current situation you are in, but it will all line up with scripture. Otherwise it may be an unexplained phenomenon that may make a good story, but does not give us truth. The only place we find absolute truth is in the Word of God.
All other sources are merely subjective human accounts or interpretations based on what we can discover with our finite minds. The book of Revelation, or John's vision, is an exception to this, as are the prophecies or visions of the Old Testament prophets. In each of those cases, the prophets were told that this was a revelation from the Lord, and they should share what they had seen because it was directly from the mouth of God. It was followed by miracles that God performed in order to establish this New Truth.
A voluntary out-of-body experience, or an “astral projection” is a different story. A person trying to achieve an out-of-body experience in order to connect with spirits or the spirit world is practicing the occult. There are two forms of this. The first is called the “phasing” model, in which the person tries to find new spiritual truth by accessing a part of the mind that is "shut off" during everyday life.
This practice is connected to Buddhism or postmodernism and the belief that enlightenment is achieved from looking within oneself. The other form, called the “mystical” model, when the person tries to exit the body entirely, ones spirit is traveling to another plane that is not connected to the physical world at all.
The Bible explicitly warns against occult practice, or sorcery, in Galatians 5:19-20 and many other places, saying that those who practice it will not inherit God's kingdom. God's commands are always for our good, and He commands us to stay far away from occult practices because there is great potential, when trying to access the spiritual world, of opening oneself up to demons who can tell us lies about God and confuse our minds.
In Job 4:12-21, Eliphaz describes being visited by a lying spirit in a vision that tells him God does not regard humans and that He doesn't care for us, which is false! The phasing model is also futile, according to Scripture.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
It's a fools errand to search for infinite wisdom inside the finite mind of man.
In conclusion, whatever sort of out-of-body experience we are talking about, the main point to remember is that an out- of-body experience will give us neither truth nor knowledge. If an involuntary out-of-body experience occurs in the life of a Christian, the best approach would be to consider it in the same category as a dream—interesting perhaps, but not a source of truth without validating follow up from the Lord while your awake. Christians are to find truth only in the words of God, as Jesus prays in..
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
"What is a Novena?"
The word novena derives from the Latin word for “nine.” A novena is a series of prayers prayed over a nine-day or nine-hour period. The prayers are repeated to obtain special graces or as a sign of devotion to God. Usually a novena involves making a specific request or expressing a specific intent. The prayers may come from the rosary or from prayer books, or they may be written by the petitioner.
Usually the same prayer is prayed every day for nine days, or the same series of prayers is prayed. A nine-day novena has prayers made at the same time each day; a nine-hour novena has a prayer at the same time each hour. Novenas are primarily practiced by Catholics, although some members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches also say novenas.
There are, in general, four categories of novenas. Mourning novenas are said following the death of a loved one; a special novemdiales is said following the death of a pope.
Preparation novenas are said before a major religious holiday, like Easter or Christmas. Prayer novenas are said to obtain special graces, and may consist of prayers from prayer books, recitation of the rosary, or other small prayers through the day.
Indulgence novenas are prayed to alleviate the temporal punishment for one’s sins, including the sins of those in purgatory.
Novenas are often prayed to specific saints and may be public or private; public ones require special mass attendance or the daily lighting of a candle. The supposed efficacy of a novena, depends on the piety and devotion of the individual performing it. Most Catholics resent the superstitious supposition that saying a novena for a given amount of time virtually guarantees that one’s request will be granted.
The novena is loosely derived from Scripture. Catholics believe that the time between the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was nine days, they believe during that period the Apostles and Mary were praying and waiting on the Holy Spirit to come (Acts 1:12-14), however, this is not biblical.
Jesus stated that He would not leave us “Comfortless” which is to say there would not be a time that men would be without the presence of the Lord among us on the ground from the time of Christ forward, that means not even an hour, let alone nine days.
15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
6 “But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”
The ancient Romans also observed a nine-day period of prayer following the death of a loved one, or to avert some evil predicted by a soothsayer. Ultimately, the novena is based more on tradition than on Scripture, which contains a prohibition against “vain repetition”
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
The concept behind novenas is not explicitly unbiblical, but the prayer content in the vast majority of novenas is unbiblical because of one major disconnect of the Catholic church, we are NOT to pray to anyone but God. It is true that we are exhorted to pray continually.
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
1 Thessalonians 5:17
”Pray without ceasing”
That being said, we need to be sure that our prayers are thoughtful, God-centered and God-honoring.