Do you ever wonder how to best pray for an older loved one? If they're still living on their own, you may worry about their health and safety. And if they've made a move to an assisted living community, you might worry that they're getting the right level of care or that they're happy and not lonely in their new home.
Whatever their circumstances, reaching out regularly via phone, chat or video conference and visiting as regularly as you can makes a huge difference for you and for them. But when you're not able to be with them or talking to them, consider praying for your senior loved one.
You can even use the Lord's Prayer as a guide!
The Lord's Prayer is a prayer that Jesus prays in Matthew 6:9-13. He tells his followers that it's a good model for how to pray. It goes like this:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
While some people recite the actual prayer Jesus prayed, you can also use it as an outline for other prayers. It's divided into a number of parts, including:
• Recognizing the sovereignty of God and offering him praise
• Acknowledging God's will and agreeing to be obedient to it
• Asking for daily sustenance and blessing
• Asking for forgiveness of sins
• Acknowledging that you are willing to forgive others
• Requesting God to shield from evil
• Again recognizing the power and glory of God
Prayer is a personal conversation between you and God. But it's not always easy. Some people are new to prayer and feel uncomfortable with the practice. They might think there's a right way to pray (there's really not) or not know how to bring their thoughts before God.
Other people are practiced at prayer and have been communing with God for years. But they may find it difficult to put their feelings, thoughts and needs into words at times.
The Bible actually says we don't always have to pray with real words. It says that the Spirit will intercede for us if only we are groaning or crying out for God with unintelligible sounds.
But sometimes, working to put those words out there can be helpful to us. So, here's a quick look at how you might use the Lord's Prayer outline if you're struggling to pray for a senior friend or family member.
• Recognizing the sovereignty of God and offering him praise. Say something like, "God, I know you are in control of this situation and that you love Mom and have a plan for her. I know you're with her, and I thank you for the comfort and protection you surround her with. Thank you for her in my life and all the time I'm able to spend with her."
• Acknowledging God's will and agreeing to be obedient to it. Say something like, "God we sought you in prayer together before Dad made a decision to move into this assisted living community. He felt you leading him to make this decision, and we are ready to abide by it." Note that it's okay to be nervous or even unsure about someone else's decision, and you can let God know that and ask him to give you peace about it too.
• Asking for daily sustenance and blessing. Ask God to protect your loved one, to sustain them and to provide them with daily needs. This is where the prayer may get personal to your loved one's situation or your hopes for them. You might ask, for example, that God provide your loved one with friends and social opportunities they enjoy or guidance and wisdom in making health-related decisions.
• Asking for forgiveness of sins. Ask God to forgive any of your sins you feel might be in the way of you being able to connect with and serve your older loved one in the best way possible.
• Acknowledging that you are willing to forgive others. If you're feeling hurt by your older loved one, give those concerns and feelings over to God as well so you can work toward forgiveness and a stronger relationship.
• Requesting God to shield from evil. Pray for God's protection and guiding Spirit for you and your loved one.
• Again recognizing the power and glory of God. Tell God that you know he has things in control and knows what he's doing. Then, ask him to lead you into any action that may align with his will in caring for your loved one.
After you pray, consider sitting for a few quiet moments to listen for God. Don't feel let down if he doesn't respond immediately. God's timing is not ours! But do look and listen for ways you can support your senior loved one in the future that are inline with what you and they believe God's will is.