The Welcoming Prayer
Updated: May 30, 2020
In Matthew 22:34, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The Welcoming Prayer is a way of moving our hearts toward these commands. It is a spiritual practice for deepening our relationship with Christ. And deepening in love with Him ushers us into abiding with Him - and apart from Him we do not have the capacity to love others.
Although the Welcoming Prayer is a practice in which we invite Jesus into the ordinary events of our lives, it is also a prayer for unprecedented times - like living life in a pandemic. In fact, because the Welcoming Prayer is a way of becoming attentive to God in what is happening in the moment, it is especially helpful during the extraordinary moments of life.
The purpose of the Welcoming Prayer is to deepen our relationship with God through surrender and invitation. It is a prayer of surrender because we come to the Lord with the intent of letting go of what we trust in other than Him. And it is a prayer of invitation because we open our hearts and welcome Him into our deepest places of need.
Here’s what I mean by that. We read in Matthew, chapter four, that after His baptism, the Spirit drew Jesus into the wilderness where He was tempted. Satan tempted Jesus to trust in what is other than God to meet His needs. Ruth Haley Barton notes that the deepest temptations we experience as humans are the three things that Jesus was tempted with:
1) Security and survival (turn the stones to bread) - our temptation is to do what it takes to provide for ourselves rather than trust God.
2) Affirmation and approval (throw yourself down to prove your worth) - our temptation is to look for our worthiness to come from our accomplishments or what others think of us.
3) Power and control (bow to Satan for control of kingdoms of the Earth) - our temptation is to control events and people rather than trust God.
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 within. Amen
There are many ways to take this prayer and make it personal. Below is a way I pray the Welcoming Prayer.
A Practice of the Welcoming Prayer
The first step is to be still and become aware of the presence of God with you. Notice and acknowledge what you are feeling. Accept your feelings and emotions as a gift from God and bring them into the presence of Christ in this moment.
Jesus, I surrender my desire for safety and security. Welcome.
Jesus, I surrender my desire for approval and affirmation. Welcome.
Jesus, I surrender my desire for power and control. Welcome.
Jesus, I surrender my desire to change what is in my current reality. Welcome.
Adele Calhoun offers ways to engage the Welcoming Prayer in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. She writes that it can be prayed throughout the day as you notice tension, fear, tightness or pain, or when you are triggered by an event or a person by inviting Jesus into that moment with the words, “Welcome, Jesus, welcome.”
Another beautiful way Adele proposes to engage in the Welcoming Prayer is at the beginning of your day. Anticipate the events on your calendar and consider what will be life-giving and what will be difficult and then welcome Jesus into these events even before you enter into them.
In whatever season you find yourself now, whether ordinary or extraordinary, may your love and desire for Christ grow ever deeper.