Prayers for the middle ages

Michele Frankeni 25 March 2019

Being ‘middle aged’ once meant freedom from ties of young families and a chance to enjoy yourself before old age. Nowadays, it often means being squeezed between the demands of elderly parents, children and grandchildren. Here, then, are some prayers for those of us who are neither old nor young.

There’s a scene in the turn-of-the-century TV series Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond’s wife Debra explains that for her, Mass is where she thanks God for ‘Ray and the kids’ but also where she has an hour alone without ‘Ray and the kids’. It’s her chance to ask God to let her survive the demands of family. Life is indeed complicated. Our blessings are not always benign and our hardships not always defeating. As we juggle our many roles and tasks in life, let us remember we have the advantage of being able to ask for help. ‘Ask and it shall be given unto you’ (Matt 7:7).

Dear Lord, Thank you for a job that I enjoy and that supports me and my family. But I know that financial security is precarious for people my age, particularly those who find themselves unemployed. It’s also a challenge for women who have re-entered the workforce after many years looking after families, but who might not have enough savings to care for their retirement. Please help us find productive roles in the workforce, and ensure that we can retire with enough to sustain us.

Thank you God for my marriage and family. I pray for the ability to enjoy the good times and strength to forget the bad times. However, I know that for many relationships there are no good times, with many experiencing emotional or physical abuse. Please help those who are abused to be able find safe homes and loving relationships.

Dear Lord, Thank you that my child still feels able to ‘come home’ for respite when life becomes fraught. I hope to always be able to provide that home. I pray for all those who, because of poverty, un- or under-employment or illness, are homeless. I ask that governments commit to policies that ensure their people have access to safe, affordable and adequate accommodation.

Creator God, When I say grace, let me be truly grateful for the food at my table. I pray for all those, young and old, who face food insecurity. I pray that we find ways to ensure that children don’t go to school hungry, or families have to choose between heating and food.

Dear Lord, Thank you for my mother’s good health, and thank you for the siblings that live near her. I ask for the grace to accept my physical distance and pray that I don’t fall into the traps of envy or guilt. I pray that everyone has access to appropriate aged care.

Thank you God for the miracle of modern technology that keeps me in touch with family and friends all over the world. I ask for the strength to put down my phone and to be in the moment with others; to let my mind wander and to make connections with people in the physical world.

Dear Lord, Thank you for friends and colleagues. I ask they be patient with me and for me to understand they too have competing demands. I pray for all those who are lonely, and ask that we find ways to reach out and bring the joy of companionship.

Creator God, Thank you for the beautiful world we live in. Help me to make, and stick to, commitment to living much lighter on this earth and not waste the resources you have provided. I pray that we face the urgent issue of climate change and work to leave the earth in good order for our children.

Dear Lord, Thank you for my faith. Sometimes it’s hard. There are doubts and despair. There are sneers from outside the faith, but also difficulties as one contemplates the failures of the Church to protect those in its care, or live up to its ideals. But always, there’s those times of prayer and spirituality when calm is restored and faith is renewed.

I ask Lord that you hear the prayers of those who are ‘middle-aged’ and help them faithfully and joyfully fulfil their various roles as partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, teacher and student.