I am turning 40 years old this week. That’s an odd sentence to write because in some ways, I feel very much 40. My back that sometimes gives me trouble feels 40. My knowledge of what foods agree and disagree with me feels 40. The surprising amount of grey in my beard feels 40.
But there are other things that do not feel 40. Not at all. My tendency to get overly excited or overly anxious about circumstances does not feel 40. My general knowledge of how to be a responsible homeowner does not feel 40. My lack of wisdom in day to day conversations does not feel 40.
It’s a weird paradigm thinking that I have come a long way in life, and yet thinking that I should have come further at the same time. All the more reason to pray. So if you’ll indulge me in this post, I have written out a prayer for growing older. And since we all are doing so, perhaps it will be beneficial to you as well.
Thank you that you knit me in my mother’s womb. Thank you that you knew all my steps before I took the very first one. And thank you that for another year you have held me in your grace and in faith. I know I am growing older; my body tells me I am. My mind tells me I am. The world tells me I am. And I want to do so with honor and grace. But I also know I cannot do that in and of my own strength. I need your help.
I have seen the wreckage of mid-life crises around me. I have observed how men, when they reach a certain age, seem to want to become boys again. Slowly but surely, we begin to bend our knees at the altar of nostalgia. We long for a perceived past, and many have traded the joy of the present and the hope of the future in order to gain it. We have traded our spouses. We have traded our integrity. We have traded our finances. From this, Lord, I pray that you would guard my heart. And not just mine, but the hearts of a whole generation. Guard us, Lord, from blinding ourselves to the reality of who we are, and “when” we are.
Help us to accept that we are growing older. Help us to joyfully accept the responsibility that comes from it rather than chasing after that which will not satisfy our hearts.
Father, it is your plan that as we age we take the opportunity to pour our lives out into those around us. Our wives, our kids, and the younger Christians who are following behind. Help us please to take this seriously. Help us to to be intentional. Help us, as we age, to not drift further toward a sense of self-entitlement that would compel us toward a life of laziness and ease. Help us instead to number our days, and for that numbering to have a motivational effect. As it does, I pray that we would not look to trivial thrills, but instead that our “bucket list” would be centered on people and how we might help those people be poured out for the kingdom of God.
As I age, Lord, I know that the effects of that age will become more and more pronounced. They will emerge, ever more visible, in my physical body as well as my mind. I pray now, Lord, that as this happens, I and others aging with me will maintain a posture of gratitude. Help us to rejoice in you always. Always. Even when it is a discipline to do so.
I also pray that as I grow older that the humility for which I so mightily struggle would become easier. Let these aches and pains and whatever else happens in the years that come remind me of my silliness and frailty, but to the end that I might be ever more humble before you, and ever more confident in you.
Lord, you have been faithful to my all my days. You have been faithful in ways I am aware of, and in countless ways I am not. Help me, as I grow older, to become ever more confident in your faithfulness. Let the past, as it widens behind me, provide courage, confidence, and hope for the future as I move toward the day I will see Jesus face to face.
May it be so, Lord. And may it be said often in the coming years.
In Jesus’ name, amen.