The other night I read the entry on “welcoming prayer” in Sacred Breath (J. David Muyskens). Although I’ve been practicing centering and contemplative prayer for many years, I’d never learned the welcoming prayer. It’s based on three simple steps:
- Focus, Feel, and Sink into the feelings, emotions, aches, and sensations in your body, becoming aware of where pain and anxiety is stored in the body.
- Welcome God into the present situation as is, and welcome God to come dwell within you and with you.
- Let Go by repeating a version of the following sentences: “I let go of the desire to change this feeling/sensation.” and “I let go of the desire for security, affection, and control.
I was not only struck by the simple wisdom of the welcoming prayer, the belief that God is active in our present circumstances, but that we merely need to invite God to dwell with us, and raise our awareness of God’s healing work, but also by the contrast between Muyskens’ description of the God who we want versus the God that we need, and the God of peace, love, and grace that already is.
Muyskens asks what it means to trust God. “Does it mean that we expect God to be good to us? Are we expecting that God will do what we think should happen? Are we affirming that we think God wants to bless us more than others?” he asks. And these I think are myths that we live with, that we let ourselves really believe about God, that effect our ability to clearly experience God’s grace in our daily lives.
Instead Muyskens responds by saying “Trust means knowing God is there in the midst of events. Trust means welcoming the love of God, which provides strength in whatever takes place. I believe that God is present in every moment.” A couple weeks ago a friend of mine and I had a discussion about faith and waiting on God. I told her I don’t want to lead a life where everything’s prescribed, because that’s not who God created us to be. Instead, God gave us adventure, and a full range of emotions to go with it- joy, pain, suffering, despair, peace, anxiety, and love. The challenge is to experience God’s blessing in every moment, and to truly trust God every step of the way.