I don’t know about you, but over the past year or more I’ve become a bit of a political news addict. I’ve counseled others who are suffering from this condition to limit their news from their phones and computers and TVs and newspapers and magazines — and yet on I continue, unabated in my quest to know more, understand more. Unfortunately, it also tends to lead me to be outraged more! And so I’m already thinking that part of my spiritual discipline for Lent will have to be some curtailment of my news habit.
And because it is often easier to do something positive rather than stop yourself from doing something negative, I will pay closer attention to my prayer life in the meantime. One of the best antidotes I know for feelings of frustration and despair and outrage and fear is prayer practice that is centered on the love and compassion that God has for us beloved children.
And so I commend The Beloved Prayer, a practice composed by Arthur LeClair that I found in a wonderful book called Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith (a compilation of some of the writings of Henri Nouwen). Here’s an adaptation of this prayer:
Sit relaxed and at ease. Have confidence that God’s love will show itself in some way. Say the following words slowly and fervently: Jesus, You are the Beloved. Repeat the words as necessary. Let you heart fill with nonverbal praise and thanksgiving. Let distractions float by, even when they press upon you. After a while the distractions will seem less and less urgent as you let them go. Simply be with Jesus in this precious moment.
Then, gently and without fanfare move on to saying: Jesus, I am the Beloved. At first the shift might seem jarring. But Paul reminds us that we too are destined to become the Beloved. Rest in the depth of prayer and let this truth settle in. Let your core-being soak up God’s favor.
Finally, shift to saying: Jesus, we all are the Beloved. Let people come into your heart: a neighbor, a friend, a relative, someone you read about in the morning paper. The important thing is not to exclude anyone. Your heart will bring to the surface the ones you need to give attention to.
At the end, simply conclude with a word of thanksgiving, or the Lord’s Prayer.
May this and other contemplative prayer practices help us to remember our, and everyone else’s, essential belovedness in the eyes of God!