Growing older brings all sorts of pains and blessings, as well as responsibility. It’s why Joni encourages you to pray along with this 17th century prayer for those growing into old age.
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and thanks for listening to "Joni and Friends.”
And isn’t it funny, isn’t it odd how we tend to look back on the ‘good ol days’ as though every single one was sunlit and sweet with not a single trouble? Well, there’s a fascinating little verse in Ecclesiastes chapter 7. It says in the 10th verse, “Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions. Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing ... Wisdom is a shelter ..."
That verse in Ecclesiastes certainly does take a realistic view of life, and so did my mother. She was not one to often look back on the good ‘ol days—even when her days became “old.” She would say, in fact, "Getting old ain't for sissies." And when my mother reached her mid-80’s, another thing she used to say was, “I'm just sorry, Joni, that when you get to be my age, I won’t be around to say I told you so!” Lindy Eareckson was right. I always thought it would be a cinch to "grow old gracefully;" but then I reached my 60’s and I found out differently! That's why the following prayer written by an anonymous saint from the 17th Century means so much to me. Just listen to this and see if you would pray the same. It says:
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 on 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 swiftly. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness 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 sour old person—some of them are so hard to live with and each one a crowning work 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.
Well, chalk one up for the Puritans. This anonymous saint from Puritan days who wrote this prayer certainly hit the nail on the head. And there are so many rich lines in this wonderful—and humorous—little prayer. In fact, I'm going to post it up today on my radio page at joniandfriends.org should you wish to download it, or print off a copy. It’s the sort of advice you want to keep in front of you each day, right? I know that as I get older, I have to be careful to not allow pessimism to ruin the day. Like the Puritan in this prayer, I want to keep fresh my ability to seek good things in unexpected places, as well as good talents in unexpected people. Oh, and while you’re visiting my radio page, don’t forget to ask for your three copies of the booklets I’ve written on the subjects of affliction, healing and suffering. It’s all for you at joniandfriends.org.
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