The Welcoming 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 power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
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 and grace within. Amen.
Above is a spiritual practice known as The Welcoming Prayer. This prayer’s aim is always the same, though its verbiage has a few variations. The goal of the practice is to welcome God into every part of our lives, physical, emotional, and spiritual, placing our WHOLE selves in His hands. The practice was originally developed by Mary Mrozowski in response to her awareness that people on spiritual journeys need prayer practices that can help them let go and place themselves fully in God’s hands.
The Welcoming Prayer can be used as a daily prayer practice. It is also powerfully used in moments when life becomes overwhelming and we are “triggered” by something, when sadness, grief, anger, anxiety, etc feel like they are getting the better of us. In those moments, we often have a tendency to don our armor and fight to keep such negative feelings at bay. We tend to look to and rely on ourselves instead of surrendering whatever is going on to God. Welcoming Prayer is designed for those times. “Welcoming” such negative feelings seems counter-intuitive and yet, to welcome them and release them to God opens us to move all the way through them and be shaped by God’s movement within them instead of by our own fears and desires. In other words, to welcome them is to place ourselves fully in God’s hands, that God can make more of us where we were inclined to make less of ourselves.
I first learned about The Welcoming Prayer some years ago, but only recently began practicing it on a regular basis. I am practicing it daily, as well as using it when strong feelings rise, and I’m finding it to be transformational. I am aware of and open to God’s presence in new ways and in ways I would likely have missed before.
I recently found myself listening to the heart of an 86 year old native of Scotland in the bakery section of Kroger. An older woman and I almost collided by accident and she apologized for being older and mentioned how she struggles with her slowing abilities. At other times, I might have offered only a brief response rushing on with my own agenda, but “welcome” rose within me and instead, I turned and gave her my full attention. She was clearly carrying a heavy burden.
She told me about how she wished she had more energy for her grand and great-grandchildren, how she missed her daughters and wished they were closer, and how her 92 year old husband was really struggling. She told me about her decision to come to America more than 35 years ago. She shared her regrets and her worries. We stood next to the donut cabinet for more than an hour; two strangers on sacred ground in the middle of Kroger. When we parted ways, I could have felt hurried and like I needed to rush to make up for time lost, but the time didn’t feel lost at all. I felt nourished and peaceful within, like I’d spent the time with God. And, maybe I did.
I believe God, working through the practice of the Welcoming Prayer, made all the difference. I was able to welcome this woman, so very different from me, much older and from a different country of origin. I could appreciate her, hear her heart, and feel some of God’s heart for her. In short, with God’s help, we built a bridge to one another that spanned our differences of age and experience. In this year of focus on building bridges, I commend this practice to you. Whether practiced daily or situationally when fear, anxiety, and other strong emotions arise, surely prayer and God’s movement within make all the difference as we seek to open ourselves to one another and build meaningful bridges.