The Welcoming Prayer
The Welcoming Prayer is a practice of letting go into the present moment. Observe the emotions that most upset you and the events that set them off, but without analyzing, rationalizing or justifying your reactions.
The Welcoming Prayer is used when your needs for security, affection and control are frustrated or gratified and cause emotional reactions. It is a way of turning everything over to God by using three simple moments:
- Focus—and sink into the body sensations that are occurring. Do not resist it, simply experience the sensation.
- Welcome —remain in the body sensation and gently say the word ‘welcome’ interiorly, embracing the Holy Spirit in and through the body sensation.
- Let go—while continuing to experience and resting in the body sensation, repeat the letting go sentences as you open to the healing action of grace within:
“I let go of my desire to change what I am experiencing.”
“Letting go” means passing through the experience not around it, not running away from it or stuffing it back into the unconscious.
The Active Prayer Sentence
The active prayer sentence is an ancient practice that purposefully brings our awareness into the divine presence of God. This practice of saying the Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Christianity is a model of the discipline. It was drawn from scripture and used in daily life. According to the teaching of The Way of the Pilgrim; when the prayer has been repeated day after day for a long period of time it settles in the heart and starts to repeat itself. Unlike Centering Prayer, which asks us to use a short, one-or-two syllable word; the active prayer sentence should be six to twelve syllables in length. The use of the syllables of the prayer sentence can be synchronized with one’s heartbeat.
Past contemplative teachers have noted the human condition, memory, imagination and the emotions live all on the same level of the unconscious. They have observed that imagination and memory jump start the emotions as well as the reverse.
As a result, patterns of commentaries are programmed into the imagination. These commentaries are established in early childhood and come from the 3 primary needs of security and survival, esteem and affection, and power and control. Each time a frustration bumps into one of these programs a commentary is emitted from the subconscious. These commentaries are like prerecorded messages, “why do I have to do all the work.” “I always have this happen to me.” “I’m so stupid,” etc. They lead us away from the present moment and God’s presence in it. If we begin to say the active prayer sentence throughout the day; when we are not involved in something that requires our attention and focus: these short scriptural sentences begin to work their way into the heart. The advantage of the active prayer sentence is that it begins to say itself in the subconscious; and like an eraser on the end of a pencil it erases the emotionally charged commentaries of our afflictive emotions. “Thus providing a neutral zone in which common sense or the Spirit of God can suggest what should be done, writes “Fr. Keating in his book Open Mind Open Heart. The Active Prayer sentence can take up to a year to root itself in one’s unconscious. It will then begin to arise all on its own, naturally, as a clear small voice interrupting the flow of emotionally charged commentaries in the everyday events of our daily life. You may find your own active prayer sentence as you read scripture or you may choose one from the list below.
O Lord, come to my assistance, O God make haste to deliver me.
Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me.
Abide in my love.
My God and my all.
Soul of Christ’ sanctify me.
I belong to you, O Lord.
Bless the Lord my soul.
Take, Lord and receive all I have.
Open my heart to your love.
Not my will but thine be done.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.
May my being praise you, Lord,
The Forgiveness Prayer
“How important forgiveness is can’t be exaggerated. One way of putting it is to be at peace with everyone. It also means being prepared to take everyone into your heart, willing to share everyone’s pain and joy as if it were your own.”–Fr. Thomas Keating.
Forgiveness is one of the most arduous and difficult of human acts and yet it characterizes our humanity. It is a divine gift of love from God that can heal and transcend us into our fullest self and reveal to us who we truly are in Christ. The fact that it is so difficult for us to forgive defines another human quality, free will.
Forgiveness is not a one-time act or decision but develops over time as we are led by the Spirit of God.
To learn more about the Forgiveness Prayer, we recommend two excellent sources to help you further along in this practice of forgiveness; a book by Fr. William Menninger The Process of Forgiveness, and the Contemplative Life Program Booklet Forgiveness, a 40-day practice. The prayer below is edited from Fr. William Menninger’s book. It is a prayer of compassion that changes both you and the person for whom you wish to forgive. The prayer can be said for someone deceased as well as for the living. “This act of compassion can be repeated for over however long it is needed,” says Fr. Menninger and one can note an immediate change for the better as a result of our compassionate meditation. He says to use the prayer as you wish but say it as fervently as you can.
Start your compassionate meditation with a period of centering prayer. Name the person by name or identify the situation you wish to forgive. This prayer is not a solution to all our problems but it is a first step in compassionate love towards our relationship with others. It is another step in “letting go” of our false self-system.
May you be happy May you be free.
May you be loving, May you be loved.
May the Lord bring you to the fullest completion that his love calls you.
May every fiber of your being resonate to the glory to which God calls you.
May you be successful in your every endeavor.
May you experience the fullness of peace in body and soul.
May you know the lord in all his goodness.
May you forgive every transgression.
I forgive you with all my heart and soul.
May you know what it means to be a child of God.
May you experience the glory of possessing the kingdom of God.
May you live and walk in peace and fellowship with all of God’s creatures.
May every blessing be yours.
May goodness and love show itself in everything that you do and in all that is done to you.
May you be one with all of God’s creation.
May you experience the blessings of God’s grace for all eternity!
Both pictures in this article are from Rembrandt’s Return of The Prodigal Son. The Top image is the entire picture, the bottom places emphasis on the Son in question. In this way, both the forgiver and the forgiven are emphasized.