Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something of every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all. But thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the time goes by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of other’s pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening certainty when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint– some of them are so hard to live with– but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.
–Attributed to a 17th century Mother Superior
O God, our heavenly Father, whose gift is length of days, help us to make the noblest use of mind and body in our advancing years. Apportion our work according to our strength. As Thou hast pardoned our transgressions, sift the ingatherings of our memory that evil may grow dim and good may shine forth clearly. We bless Thee for Thy gifts and especially for Thy presence and the love of friends in heaven and on earth. Grant us new ties of friendship, new opportunities of service, joy in the growth and happiness of children, sympathy with those who bear the burdens of the world, clear thought and quiet faith. Teach us to bear infirmities with cheerful patience. Keep us from narrow pride in outgrown ways, blind eyes that will not see the good in change, and impatient judgments of the methods and experiments of others. Let Thy peace rule our spirits through all the trial of our waning years. Take from us all fear of death, and all despair or undue love of life; that with glad hearts at rest in Thee we may await Thy will concerning us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
–Author unknown; from Wings of Healing, ed. by John Doberstein
Having passed over this day, Lord, I give thanks unto Thee. The evening draweth nigh, make it comfortable. As there is an evening of the day, so there is an evening of this life, the evening of old-age. Old-age hath seized upon me; make that comfortable.
Cast me not away in the time of age;
Forsake me not when my strength fails me. (Psalm 71:9)
Be thou with me in my old-age; even to gray hairs
wilt thou carry me. (Isaiah 46:4)
Do thou forgive and receive and save me, O Lord.
Tarry thou with me, O Lord, for it is toward evening with
me, and the day is far spent, (Luke 24:29)
of this my toilsome life.
Let thy strength be made perfect in my weakness.
(II Corinthians 12:9)
–Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) alt.
Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress or isolation. Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and, as their strength diminishes, increase their faith and their
assurance of your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer