I found this prayer over 40 years ago and have used it in church bulletins and have made reference to it in sermons on occasion. When I first read it, I was in my late 20s, and could not fathom the issues which the elderly face. Today, almost 50 years later, this prayer strikes hard at my heart strings.

High schooler — young adult or even middle-aged adult, life is a blast for you now. You are in the pink of health, independent, and you “have the world by the tail.” But one day, if God permits you to live out those three-score and ten years, you will find yourself perhaps in the same spot this 17th Century nun found herself one day. Let her heart-cry to the Lord sink in.

“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 the 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 love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go 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 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 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.”

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Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.