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When We Can’t Find the Words

I turned the paper over and caught my breath seeing it replete with words I felt at a loss to translate in the allotted time for the task. The exam seemed insurmountable.

Our Father who art in Heaven . . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . .

I didn’t know exactly what to ask for but I knew I needed divine intervention.

*****

Upon arriving back to my car after an evening run, I found thousands of shards of broken glass shattered out of my car window. My heart stopped as I found myself alone in the busy parking lot, but with no companion to witness this moment alongside me.

Our Father who art in Heaven . . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . .

These words drawing me close to Him in a moment of panic.

*****

As I lay in the semi-darkness feeling the surge of every contraction hitting full force and striking ever closer together, I did the only thing I could think to do.

Our Father who art in Heaven . . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . .

The prayers poured out of me, lifting me out of the waves of pain washing over me.

*****

Grief overtook me as a my heart pounded with an unfathomable ache. Recently losing a loved one, my feelings, my thoughts, felt like a jumbled mess with no means of suitable expression.

Our Father who art in Heaven . . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . . .

I found solace in these words of prayer spilling from my lips between sobs.

*****

Prayer can form spontaneously, but sometimes it is a great help to have the words right at our fingertips, committed to memory and second nature, so that in those dire moments they simply spill forth without any real effort straight to the Father.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, gives us the words when we can’t find them on our own. He teaches us how to open that line of communication with the Father.

In our household, when we sit down to pray at night, we ask each of the members of the family what they would like to pray for. My youngest daughter often says that she wants to pray to Jesus “all the way.” What I think she means, is that she wants to pray for all the things in her heart that can’t find adequate expression, but that He knows are hidden there.

Let us find our way to Him in the prayers stamped on our hearts where He knows what we need “all the way” even when we find ourselves beyond expression.

What is your favorite prayer you have memorized? Pick a new one this week to learn by heart. 

Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.

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