Prayer as Belonging
The desire to belong is something where both secular and spiritual experts can agree, is built into all of us. It is not a characteristic we can turn on or off based on our needs, although we may think we can control it. Most forms of belonging, at least in the true sense, are based in love. Our need to belong to a family, a loved one, or a group where there is affinity.
Belonging is also instinctive. We have a need to belong to someone; our mother, father, siblings, friends all make us naturally migrate towards each other. We can often identify this need for belonging when we are separated from the others; when we are rejected, repelled, or disinvited to be a part of the group. It’s as if the pain of separation reinforces the need to belong.
Perhaps there is little that broadcasts the scriptural commands from the New Testament more than the need for belonging. In John 13:34-35, just before his passion and death on the Cross, Jesus raised belonging to the ultimate level:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This commandment reinforces what is already a part of our essence, we are The Body of Christ. Where God resides in us, so does our Holy Longing for God’s love and thereby our love for each other. And yet, we still use this power to allow others to “belong” to groups in our lives; to restrict or exclude them. Each time we are unwelcoming or reject others, we exercise our gift of belonging which is within us all. So it is a gift we can use to accept or reject others; by either giving or restricting. To exercise judgment for good or bad.
This week, we can reflect on some times and places in our lives where we are using belonging as it was meant to be. As an invitation to the dialog, as welcoming, as the returning Prodigal Son, or as the Father who invited the son home. Take a look and see how belonging shows how God is operating within us, even when we seem to be unaware.
Where we have failed, and we all have at some point, we can, of course, pray for belonging. That we may be accepting of others, and that others may accept us. Why, because He is Always With Us (Mt 28:20) and we with Him.
A Prayer of Belonging
Let me belong.
Let me belong to you.
Let me belong to a community.
Let me belong to a family.
Let me belong.
In the daylight, let me belong.
At night, let me belong.
During times of illness and strife, let me belong.
During good times, let me belong.
But always, let me belong to you.
For it is your belonging where all belonging begins;
And does not end.
In this I pray. Amen.