Welcoming Prayer

Last Saturday, Ashley and I attended a Centering Prayer workshop on the "human condition" led by Fr. Bill Sheehan. This event was fostered by the Contemplative Outreach movement founded by Fr. Thomas Keating. In addition to time for practicing Centering Prayer, Fr. Bill Sheehan concluded the workshop by leading us through the practice of Welcoming Prayer.

Mary Mrozowski, one of the founders of Contemplative Outreach, formulated the Welcoming Prayer based upon the 17th century French spiritual classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, as well as Fr. Thomas Keating's teachings and her own lived experience.

The Welcoming Prayer focuses on consenting to God's presence and action in in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. This method of prayer seeks to heal wounds by addressing them where they are stored - in the body. One is called to pay closer attention to the body and interior state because the mind can deceive while the body does not lie. Every thought, feeling or emotion has a corresponding body sensation. Each experience is imprinted in every cell of our body. Centering Prayer is a receptive form of meditation whereas Welcoming Prayer is relatively more focused and concentrated.

“Welcoming Prayer is the practice that actively lets go of thoughts and feelings that support the false-self system. 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. Thus, it is the full acceptance of the content of the present moment. [In] giving the experience over to the Holy Spirit, the false-self system is gradually undermined and the true self liberated.” - Fr. Thomas Keating

Contemplative Outreach Logo | Image Credit: Saint Richard Catholic Church

How It Works
Below is a step-by-step guide for how to practice the Welcoming Prayer. You can download the official brochure here.

  1. Sit upright in a comfortable chair with both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Gently become aware of your body and your interior state. Imagine a penetrating light moving throughout your entire body, beginning with the top of your head and then down to your toes. Focus, feel and sink into the feelings, emotions  thoughts, sensations and commentaries in your body. Perhaps pick a specific person, experience or situation in the recent past that has caused you distress to focus on.
  3. Welcome the Divine Indwelling in the feelings, emotions, thoughts, sensations or commentaries in your body by saying, "Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment because I know it is for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions."
  4. Let go by repeating the following sentences: "I let go of my desire for security. I let go of my desire for affection or approval. I let go of my desire for control. I let go of my desire to change any feeling, situation, condition, person, or myself. I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within."
Welcoming Prayer | Image Credit: Annette L. Sherwood

“To welcome and to let go is one of the most 
radically loving, faith-filled gestures we can make 

in each moment of each day. It is an open-hearted embrace of all that is in ourselves and in the world.” - 
Mary Mrozowski

“What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.” - Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach
Welcoming Prayer by Davidson UMC

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Michael! This is such a beautiful and simple prayer that everyone can bring into their lives.


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