Stay Focused: The Welcome Prayer
We welcome some things in life.
Several years ago, I remember Loren called me. He was passing through town and wanted to see if I could join him for lunch.
“What a welcomed surprise to hear from you,” I said. “Of course, I’ll meet you for lunch. Name the place and time, and I’ll be there!”
Nothing on my schedule would keep me from meeting Loren. It had been too long since we had seen each other. In our younger days, we had been roommates. It will be great to see him, I thought.
Over lunch, we reminisced and laughed until our sides hurt as we remembered some of the tricks we had played on our friends. Although time and space had distanced us, we picked up as if we had just seen each other yesterday. His unexpected visit was a welcomed experience.
But not all things in life are welcomed.
Pandemics, unemployment, sickness, strained relationships, and many other unwanted experiences are not as pleasurable as my friend’s visit.
Welcomed or not, we all experience good and evil, joy and sorrow, success and failure, happiness and sadness. Welcomed and un-welcomed events are part of life.
I have no problem accepting welcomed events. It’s the unpleasant events — those that are difficult to understand — that are hard for me to believe God is using for my good.
My admission, though uncomfortable, is revealing. It indicates my struggle to believe there’s value in unpleasant experiences. Is it possible that my preference toward the comfortable incidents, while resenting uncomfortable ones, show a false belief that God is only active in pleasurable things? Is it conceivable that God is as involved in the un-welcomed events of my life as well as the welcomed ones?
My tendency to accept the good and resent the bad events of life also indicates my desire for power and control, my need for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
How we accept or resent ALL the circumstances in life is a reflection of our faith.
The prophet Habakkuk was confused as to why God would choose to use an evil nation like Babylon for His purpose. It didn’t make sense to Habakkuk. And, it certainly wasn’t comfortable. Habakkuk complains:
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?” “…For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted” - Habakkuk 1:2, 4b (ESV).
Was God indifferent or insensitive? Did God have a hearing problem? Habakkuk sounds more like a Blue’s singer than a seer. J. Ronald Blue writes:
“Israel did not normally complain about its troubles in ‘letters to the editor.’ They took their pleas directly to God in worship.”
What Habakkuk discovers is: Even in his unpleasant circumstances, God was working. It was just difficult for him and his people to see — let alone, understand (Habakkuk 1:5). What Habakkuk comes to realize is:
One spiritual practice that helps me remember God’s presence and activity in ALL life experiences is The Welcome Prayer. These words encourage me to consent to God’s presence and action in my physical and emotional reactions to life’s situations, whether I like (or understand) them or not.
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 to change any situation,
condition, person, or myself.
I open myself to the love and presence of God
and God’s action within - Amen.
There’s nothing magical about this prayer. Reading these words aloud opens me to receive all that God brings to me throughout the day. They are a reminder that God is at work in all things. He’s the One that dismantles the emotional programs of the false-self and heals my wounds.
Perhaps you’ve noticed: There are a lot of un-welcomed events we’re experiencing today. Welcome, welcome, welcome! That’s my invitation to allow God to choose how to work as He desires with full confidence that every welcomed and un-welcomed event is for my good.
Are you ready to welcome God’s presence and activity into ALL your life experiences?
Here’s a guide to The Welcome Prayer.
 J. Ronald Blue, “Habakkuk,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1508.