For seniors of faith, prayer time may be an ongoing work in progress or cherished moments with God throughout the day. But whether you've been practicing the spiritual discipline of prayer for decades or you're recently able to make more time for God in your life in an assisted living community, there are times when you might not know what to pray. There are also times in any person of faith's life when it seems harder to call on the Spirit through prayer.
Seniors of faith know that this is part of the human condition, though, and not an issue on God's part. God is always there, waiting and willing to be with us. We simply need to find the time and choose to do so.
One of the great benefits of choosing a faith-based assisted living community such as The Gardens at Barry Road in Kansas City, MO, is that you can be reminded of that connection with God. You might see it in your connection with the residents and neighbors around you or in their own relationships with Christ. You may be able to attend on-site worship, devotionals and Bible studies or speak one-on-one with a chaplain about spiritual health during a time when you feel like yours is waning. Simply spending time with like-minded seniors or faith around a dining table or in a common area can help life your spirits and improve your prayer life.
And if you ever just feel like you're in a rut with prayer, you might consider reflecting on prayers written by known and unknown authors from the past. These can provide guidelines for certain ways to try praying, or they can simply help ground your thoughts as you embark on a session of intentional prayer and communication with God.
If we're going to turn to other people to get some ideas about prayer, obviously it's a good idea to start with Jesus himself. You can find the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.
Some people use this prayer as a template, particularly because Jesus instructed his disciples to pray in this way. The Lord's Prayer does cover a lot of ground: it gives glory and thanks to God, acknowledges His sovereignty and wishes His will to be done. It also asks for daily care for the believer as well as forgiveness of sins and divine assistance in forgiving others and requests God's help in overcoming the evil of this world.
This is a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi. You can find a free online version from Loyola Press.
In this prayer, St. Francis asked God to help him be an instrument of the Spirit's divine peace in the lives of others. This is a great prayer to meditate on if you feel a divisive spirit in your own heart or among those you're close to. It's also a good general prayer to start with in modern times, when the news cycle seems to bring very little peace.
Seniors of faith may recognize part of this prayer from St. Patrick of Ireland, as it's been turned into more than one hymn or Christian song. At the heart of the prayer is the belief that Jesus is with us always via the Holy Spirit, and that the power of God is alive in our hearts through that relationship.
You can listen to a hymn based on the iconic ending of that poem online.
This is a favorite for many reasons. First, it's easy to memorize, so you can turn to it easily in any hour of need. The prayer simply states:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."
But the short prayer has a powerful point: God is in charge, but that doesn't mean you never need to act. This prayer asks God for the wisdom to know when He intends you to step in and the faith and peace to accept everything else.
This is another short and powerful prayer, this time from St. Ignatius of Loyola. You can read the entire text of the prayer for free at Loyola Press.
In this prayer, St. Ignatius acknowledges that everything he has ever been given, from his life to his memories, is from God and belongs to God. He says to God that he is God's, his life is God's and that God should do what He will with it all. As long as St. Ignatius has the love and grace of his creator, it is enough for him — seniors familiar with the New Testament may see some of Paul's influence on this prayer.
This is a powerful prayer of faith and submission to God's will in our lives. The sentiments of this prayer are echoed by Jeremy Camp in the song Take My Life, which seniors can listen to for free on YouTube.