The Welcoming Prayer
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
~ John 14:27
As we learn to navigate the new normal of the Coronavirus pandemic, we need spiritual practices that will help us when life gets out of control. The Welcoming Prayer is a daily practice of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to the events and situations in daily life. It embraces painful emotions experienced in the body rather than avoiding them or trying to suppress them. It does not embrace the suffering as such but the presence of the Holy Spirit in the particular pain, whether physical, emotional, or mental. It is the full acceptance of whatever is happening in the present moment so that we can stay attentive to what God is doing in our lives.
There are three movements in this powerful prayer. While it’s designed to be prayed “on the go,” you may want to start by quietly sitting still in your favorite prayer space to get the feel of it. You may also want to teach this to your family as a way of coping through this new season.
First Movement – Focus: Acknowledge what is going on in your body at the moment and become aware of where you are holding negative emotions, tension and pain. Notice it without judging, analyzing, or trying to control what you’re feeling or sensing. Just sit with it and be in the moment.
Second Movement – Welcome: Be open to what you are experiencing in your body as an invitation for God’s activity in your life. This is where He wants to work. This may sound counterintuitive, but as psychologist Carl Jung famously said, “what you resist not only persists but will grow in size.” We get attached to feelings that we cannot resolve and the best way to resolve them is to acknowledge them and “welcome” them. But we don’t stop there. Welcoming the feelings opens the door for the final and most important step.
Third Movement – Letting Go and Relinquishing: We can either react to situations with negative emotions or resolve to place them in God’s hand by surrendering our attachments that keep us from entering into the peace that Jesus promised. Pray this prayer slowly and thoughtfully, allowing the Holy Spirit’s deep work in your soul. Use the words that work best for you.
Father, I welcome my (insert specific emotions, feelings, pain)
I let go of my desire/attachment/need for power and control.
I let go of my desire/attachment/need for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire/attachment/need for survival and security.
I let go of my desire/attachment/need to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open my heart to your love and presence, your work and ways.
Practice, practice, practice the welcoming prayer at any moment in your day. With repetition, it can become part of the “tapes” that play in the background of your consciousness. The results are up to God. This prayer can become a part of you even if you don’t see it, feel it, or realize it. God is always at work, changing obstacles into opportunities for spiritual growth and giving us more compassion for ourselves and others. This prayer can transform us for God’s glory, so we can live more effectively and serve others with greater love, kindness and compassion. As Thomas Keating says, we are called to live ordinary lives with extraordinary love.