Spiritual Practice: The Welcoming Prayer
Practice: The Welcoming Prayer
The Welcoming Prayer invites us into the practice of contemplation, or a long, loving look at the Real, as contemplation has often been defined.
The invitation to this prayer is the awareness of experiencing an afflictive emotion (anger, fear, anxiety, frustration, obstinancy, sadness…) or bodily sensation (constriction anywhere in the body, with particular attentiveness to head, heart and gut spaces) A day can contain many such invitations! You may recall one now.
The invitation to prayer is answered by bringing compassionate attention to your body. When you become aware of one of the above emotions or sensations, or as you recall it, take a few moments to bring compassionate attention (drawing in compassion with the use of your breath) to the place of sensation and the space around it. Let yourself simply feel the unease in your gut, or the tension in your jaw, the tightening in your chest, the curling of your toes, … Just be with your body, noticing without trying to change anything. It may help you to hold your attention to that space by inquiring about the texture, temperature, color, shape, density, size or activity of the sensation. You are simply providing ample, compassionate space for that sensation and accompanying emotions to be present.
Welcoming God: Welcome God into the feelings, emotions, thoughts, sensations or commentaries of your body. Pray with your somatic discomfort; ask what it is telling you about your fear or your sense of being out of control or your lack of trust or your anxiety.
Don’t rush through these first steps; resting in this bodily awareness and inviting God into that awareness is the heart of this prayer. The words that follow will simply become a verbalization of the welcome you have practiced in your body.
The Spoken Prayer:
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem and approval.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God
and God’s action within.
Originally formulated by Mary Mrozowski, founder of Contemplative Outreach, it is based, in part, on the 17th century French classic Abandonement to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, who wrote:
What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.
Souls who can recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and the most mortifying things that happen to them in their lives, honor everything equally
with delight and rejoicing,
and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid.
Other voices of wisdom have chimed in along similar lines.
You see, the big thing for me is to love reality and not to live in the imagination, not to live in what could have been or what should have been or what can be, and somewhere, to love reality and then discover that God is present. Jean Vanier
Your life is God’s ongoing gift to you. Jack Roeda
Sometimes it’s nice when another helps hold sacred space for you. This guided facilitation is another version of the Welcoming prayer. Enjoy.