Q: Do you consider Welcoming Prayer a prayer? I recently presented Welcoming Prayer to the Centering Prayer group I attend … and a member asked this question. She listened to Cynthia Bourgeault’s video on Welcoming Prayer and at the beginning Cynthia says Welcoming Prayer is a practice not a prayer. I told her I listened to the same talk and heard her say that also. My response was was that I considered it a prayer and practice as we are consenting to God’s action within us. I didn’t dwell on Cynthia’s comment at the time as I consider all practices that bring us to God a form of prayer. However, I decided I wanted to research this idea; I’d like to respond in a more informed way to her and others should it come up again. Also, couldn’t the same be said about Lectio Divina and other practices?
A: The Welcoming Prayer practice as taught by Contemplative Outreach does have some nuanced differences from what Cynthia Bourgeault teaches. Fr. Thomas Keating and Mary Mrozowski (the original animator of Welcoming Prayer) were very clear in that it is our intention that makes our practice prayer. And you were correct in that it is in our intention to consent to the Divine Indwelling’s presence and action within us that supports the use of the term “prayer.” We “welcome” what we are experiencing this moment in our body as an opportunity to consent to the Divine Indwelling. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, in Abandonment to Divine Providence, (one of the sources Mary referenced in developing this prayer practice) states, “There is never a moment when God does not come forward in the guise of some suffering or some duty, and all that takes place within us, around us and through us both includes and hides God’s (his) activity.” (Ch. 2; (1) ).
But either way, don’t let semantics get in the way of PRACTICE. Mary M’s favorite quote was, “practice, practice, practice.” So the grace of Welcoming is that we don’t have to think about it, but rather to Feel and Sink Into, Welcome, and Let Go and embrace.
I would also let you know that the Welcoming Prayer Service Team has a process to become a commissioned Welcoming Prayer presenter. Your interest and enthusiasm for sharing the prayer would be most welcome!
Welcoming Prayer Service team member