Untangling Prayers


August 28  

Recently, I walked into our son’s room to find that he had made a holy mess of his rosaries. “Look, Mommy,” he excitedly proclaimed as he lifted up the tangled mess, “I am doing magic!” His sister, and sidekick, chimed in, “He is doing magic! See! He can separate them!” But he couldn’t separate them this time as they were really tangled. As I stepped in to help undo the mess and save his rosaries from breaking into pieces, I gently replied, “Rosaries are for prayer, not tangles.”

Shortly after, my husband smiled and said, “Why don’t you write about untangling rosaries— or even better yet, untangling prayers!” We both laughed, then looked at each other and knew he was on to something. Yes, in a way we all have to work at untangling our prayers every now and again, especially in the midst of the beautiful chaos that we find ourselves in as moms.

When the summer ends and fall begins, I, like millions of other moms who have school-aged children, find myself overwhelmed with all that needs to be done each day in order to keep the family moving along. There is laundry to wash, dinner to make, lunches to pack, carpooling, volunteering at the parish festival—the list goes on. And if you are anything like me, the busyness of life often also seems to take over your brain. Thoughts are lost almost as quickly as they come, since there are just too many things and not enough space left in the brain to house them  all. (Not to mention all the papers you get handed at the end of the school day)!

It is at these times that I struggle most with prayer. When I do take time to “be still and know that he is God” (Psalm 46:10), my mind is tangled with thoughts about all that needs to be done and the fleeting time that I have left to complete the tasks at hand. That is not to say that the prayers are not there; no, I do have plenty! But it seems that when I need to pray, when I really need to dig deep and connect with God, it is hard to find the right words among the knotted prayers inside my heart and soul. Sometimes, I just cannot get to what it is that I need to communicate to God as I struggle to unknot the words that lie within.

It at these times though that I am also reminded that my tangled prayers are a great spiritual gift, as they remind me that I need to slow down and relish the beauty and love of God. That is, as I sit and work to untangle the prayers and to remove the babbling of my words (Matthew 6:7), peace begins to return. I find that as each word is gently unknotted, I better see not only what I wish to tell God, but I am also better able to hear God’s words echo back to me—words which gently guide me back to the wisdom I need to guide me in my journey of motherhood.

For it is through the untangling of our prayers, mamas, that we find that God hears us—whatever we long for—we know that he has and will continue to provide what we have asked of him (John 5:15).

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