March 2021 Prayer Prompt
For Those Who Are Older

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Published March 2021

Provided by Christian Churches Network of London (CCNL)

First of all, our deep thanks to each of you for taking the time in prayer together monthly with us. Oswald Chambers said: "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work. Prayer is the greater work." Hebrews 4:16 tells us: "Come boldly to the throne of grace." How very encouraging to hear of many in our city responding to and sharing these promptings to pray - to confess, to praise, to ponder the needs of others, and to be open to the Spirit spurring us into action. One of our core values as the CCNL network, is to be "a spark of the Spirit", a catalyst for all those who follow Jesus in London and area, through the work of leaders in churches, ministries, community and business.

Our March focus is on the older generations in London. Much light has been shed on our seniors during this pandemic. Daily, our hearts have been broken by the vulnerabilities COVID has revealed particularly in long-term care, and saddened by the tragic losses of many lives particularly in this demographic. We know that not all older people are alike. Just like toddlers, millennials, or baby-boomers are not all similar, seniors come from a variety of backgrounds, skills, experiences, physical capacities, support networks, faith journeys, health situations, or living arrangements. Recent demographic projections indicate that the median age in London is 38-39 years old. The percentage of London's population 65+ is just over 17% of the population. Let's dig deeper into the needs of that older age bracket and boldly bring these valued neighbours and loved ones to our gracious God. As you pray, we encourage you to picture in your mind seniors you know in your family, your neighbourhood, your church - or maybe picture yourself!

God, this month we come to you for these things:
... we thank You God for every single day of life You give us - a gift. In spite of aging bodies, may each of us desire "to flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age, we will still produce fruit; we will remain vital and green" Psalm 92:14. We ask for this quality of life in order to offer purposeful good to those around us, to seek richness of relationship with You and with others, and to find joy in the dailies, no matter how long we live, as long as we can, wherever and whenever we can. For those who are thriving in their advancing years, bless them with continued vitality and dogged determination. Thank you, God for their giving spirits, their laughter and great stories, and their faithful service to others. What great role models for us all.

We also acknowledge God, that we may not automatically grow wiser or more gracious just because we age. Guard our tongues from being overly critical, and our hearts from being too self-focused. Sweet old ladies don't just happen evidently! Dwight L. Moody once said “Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.” (N.B. except of course, but by the gracious work of God - permit using editorial privilege to state that there can always be amazing exceptions - like having a grandfather-in-law who submitted his life to Jesus when he was nearly 60, whose life was positively, suddenly transformed!!)

Whatever age you or I are right now, remind us that as we pray for those older, that we too need to work daily at becoming who You created us to be throughout our whole life - spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually.

... we pray for hearts full of gratitude for our aged. Help us God to remember the generations before us - for their desire to maybe make the world a better place for the future - veterans who have served our country; immigrant families who left their homes for hope of safety, opportunity, a better life; for those who stayed behind and sent us off into the world; for visionaries who made bold, risky decisions that we take for granted; for parents, laborers, leaders, farmers, teachers.... Thank You for all their hard work, for their determination to survive in hard times and in good times, for their sacrifices made for us, for the countless hours of volunteering still. Help us to honor their lives with much dignity and deeply value what they offered to our community and our personal lives. Especially as vaccinations roll out, may we advocate well on behalf of all seniors to ensure that they receive their vaccines as soon as possible.

...we pray for the most vulnerable in our senior population as aging takes a toll on both body and spirit. God, we pray for those in long-term care, we pray for much protection, loving care, safe practices, and diligent attention given. May families and/or designated caregivers find ways to communicate and connect with their loved ones even in the challenges of lockdowns. May each individual be respectfully cared for. We pray for their healthcare-givers - give them strength, attentiveness, patience, compassion, protection, skill, and courage enough for each day. We know it is not an easy job - they are weary. May there be sufficient staff to do the hard work required. May careful policies, practices, finances and accountabilities be put in place with the same passion and commitment that we equally desire for our children. Our seniors deserve this.

...remind us, God, that not all seniors are in long-term care residences. Some are living in residential homes, as they choose to no longer live alone for a variety of reasons and are cared for as needed. A number are also living at home still, requiring help with meals, daily living, or health care, dependent on this critical assistance, who are either being cared for by family, or by support workers who come in, or a network of friends or neighbours. We also pray for those who are caregivers of elderly relatives, for that selfless commitment and constant responsibility, that is often not seen or acknowledged. And we pray for those seniors who are truly alone at home, some living quite independently. Others who are isolated at home may not have a strong support network or may themselves be caring for a spouse or friend who needs them. Give us eyes to see these needs and respond, God. Teach us about sacrifice.

...we pray for the profound loneliness that the elderly often express. Many of their friends have passed away. Families may not be nearby, and/or have busy lives. Mobility sometimes prevents participation in former activities. And right now, they cannot socialize in person with others or attend programs. COVID-19 has made that loneliness much, much worse. Use every thoughtful gesture, phone call, note, visit - virtual or in-person to make a difference. Help them continue to learn new technology as they seek to connect and fill in long days, difficult in winter months at the best of times. The poignant images of "window visits" over the last year linger in our memories. Recently, the touching news story of children from Huron Heights community in northeast London making valentine cards for their "love thy senior neighbour" project inspire us also to do the very simple things a caring community can do. Provoke us to generously give back to them gifts of our time and patience. We pray on their behalf that each will sense and know Your presence God, as near as Your breath.....and that will bring much comfort in the isolation. Let them not become discouraged, even if their outer bodies may be failing them, please renew their inward spirits daily.

...for those 240,000 people in Ontario currently suffering with Alzheimer's or have a loved one experiencing this disease in various stages, we pray for them God. This form of dementia is a disease that eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life – how they think, feel and act. Each person is affected differently. While it's difficult to predict symptoms, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of their progression, it does not get better. God, it must feel so overwhelming, frightening, and frustrating, both for the person and for those around them. We pray for those affected - for generous patience, for comfort, for good care. Many express how helpless they feel facing this disease that steals the person they once knew. This thought provoking quote from a person in the beginning stage of this disease reminds us of an important spiritual aspect "Do you know what my worst fear is? That I am going to forget Jesus. I have finally realized that I may not remember Him, but He will always remember me." Thank You God that you do not forget us, that there is nowhere where can go where we are not precious in Your sight, even if we may forget our experience of You.

... We pray for our federal government as they consider finalizing the new C7 Bill on Medical Assistance in Dying, known as MAID. God, we know you value all people regardless of a person’s ability or disability, be they young or elderly. We pray for doctors providing care to the dying and the severely ill: that they promote treatments which respect human dignity and are an expression of hope and love. We pray for those who perceive assisted euthanasia as an act of compassion, allowing them to see Your value of all lives from our very beginnings to our last breaths, even in difficult circumstances. Father, help our elected leaders and generous donors to invest in effective, supportive and robust palliative care rather than seeing such people as a burden to us personally or as a society, even in their suffering. Give us greater understanding of your mercy and grace to pursue the sacredness of life for all people. And Lord, we ask that you hold our hands tightly when we run the last leg of life's race on earth.

...for the spiritual lives of our seniors, we pray. For those have been faithful followers of Jesus, as they age, may they remain diligent to learning, loving, and serving You even in these difficult days, as "Your steadfast love is new every morning". For those who have grown lukewarm about a relationship with You, who take Your love for granted, or have forgotten their 'first love', light a fresh fire in them - give them the faithfulness of Simeon or of Anna in Luke 2 - devoted to waiting for the Messiah in their older years. And for those seniors who have seen You as a cold and distant God for years, or who have decided that a relationship with God, if You even exist, is not for them... may something spark a conversation, a curiosity, a search for eternal answers to life's hard questions. There is still time - thank You that You wait patiently on us all to come to You with loving arms wide open.

...we also pray that those who are older will share freely their faith journeys with those younger or all those around them - in order to inspire and convict: “Since my youth you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” – Psalm 71:17-18. May those who are older seek to model hope and faith, to be wise in our words and actions, following the example Paul shared about Timothy in 2 Timothy 1: "your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you!" What an amazing privilege seniors have to build into lives of others.

Life is not easy for any of us right now, God. None of us expected that this is what life would look like - for this long - almost everywhere in the world - but especially for the older generation. Some of us have been busy stressing on how to "age successfully" in the second half of our lives that does not look at all how we imagined. Some of us are frequently busy juggling, raising, or supporting often multiple generations of families, working from home, and/or concerned for job security. Some may be struggling to complete their education or looking for employment. In the midst of this chaos that can easily drive us inward and self-focused, we ask God that we would turn towards you and that You will not let us become selfish or entitled. We are indeed in this together. For each generation, we claim this truth:

"So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The Message

March 2021 Summary: 1. Thankfulness for each day of life we have and pray that we may flourish spiritually as we grow older “Even in old age, we will still produce fruit; we will remain vital and green.” Psalm 92:14
2. Pray for God’s continuing grace in forming us into the image of Christ in our senior years (Col. 3:12-14)
3. Pray for ways to express our gratitude for those who have preceded us.
4. Pray for protection for those living and working in long-term care who are among the most vulnerable and for the speedy delivery of vaccines
5. Pray for those caring for aged relatives in their homes – for loving patience and resilience.
6. Pray for those seniors who are living by themselves and/or may be caring for an aging or infirm partner – for the grace of fortitude and courage.
7. Pray for those who are experiencing profound loneliness – for people who will take initiative to connect and encourage.
8. Pray for the seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families – for loving-kindness and persevering patience.
9. Pray for decision making at gov't levels regarding MAID legislation - may the sacredness of life be honored.
10. Pray for those seniors who are struggling in their faith or who have yet to embrace faith in Christ – that someone would express the love of Christ and His Good News.
11. Pray for seniors to fulfill their role as elders and sages by investing in those who are younger and can benefit from their lived experience.