Praying About Growing Older

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2002

I am writing this article from the beautiful hills of North Carolina where I'm visiting my dear friend, Tommy Tyson, and his children. Tommy has just passed his 80th birthday, and we are praying for each other. Part of what we are praying for is simply the wear and tear of the passing years.

Several years ago, when I wrote about praying for the aging process, two publishers wrote to ask whether I would like to write a book on the subject, but I begged off because I had already written everything I knew in that one article.

But I have had a few more ideas recently because I am faced every day with the reality. So here goes!

The simple comparison I've come up with is that I'm something like my old car, a '91 Toyota Camry. It's been a faithful car and still, after 160,000 miles, gets nearly 30 miles a gallon. As cars go, it's an incredibly healthy car. And yet two things inevitably happen:

one is that the parts wear out;
the other is that sludge builds up, and
I need to change the oil every 3000 miles.

It just struck me that we are a little like that. After playing tennis and jogging for years and years, the cartilage and cushioning between the joints has worn down. It's not there any more-and it hurts where joint hits joint.

Then like the sludge, the plaque builds up in the arteries and veins and the circulation is impaired. Just as the car grows sluggish, our energy becomes less. Just as a car may stall at a stoplight, we fall asleep in meetings.

I'm not sick; I'm very healthy, in fact. My eyes are actually better at distance than they used to be; my hearing is good. But I had to give up running, and I limp a bit.

So do I pray for healing? Even though I'm not sick?

My answer to everyone who hurts a· bit and limps a bit is "yes."

We hesitate to ask for prayer, because this aging process happens to everyone and we don't like to call attention to ourselves and fall prey to self-pity. But yes, I believe Jesus has mercy on us and would like to help, just as you would like to help relieve the pain of anyone who is struggling with pain.

Let me tell you what I've come up with on how to pray and maintain our vitality.

First, I need someone who loves me enough to pray with me every day. This would be ideal, wouldn't it? You can't just go to a prayer meeting every day; you feel embarrassed to raise your hand and ask for prayer if you are not really sick. And yet you need prayer to repair the wear and tear of every day.

Your husband or wife, or a special friend, would be the ideal person to pray. If they are about the same age, they understand what aging is like and can sympathize. "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be," said the poet Robert Browning. If you don't have someone to pray with every day ("Give us this day, our daily bread"), perhaps you can find a friend who can manage once a week.

The way you can pray 1s simple. Just lay your hands on any aching joints and ask Jesus to let his strength flow into those joints to loosen them, to take down the inflammation, and to take out the pain. After that, praise God, or re­main in silence, or pray in tongues, but leave your hands on that hurting neck or aching knees-or what- ever-for five or ten minutes.

Then, perhaps pray for five minutes with your hands on your spouse's or friend's head or shoulders and ask Jesus to fill him/her with his life and strength-to renew any flagging vitality.

If there are problems with the heart or circulatory system (the "sludge," the plaque),* you might ask Jesus through his Sacred Heart to renew your friend's heart and to repair any damage the heart has sustained over the years. If the circulation is the problem, ask Jesus to flood your friend's arteries and veins-through his Precious Blood-to wash away any plaque or circulation and to restore the elasticity of the circulatory system.

I believe you will see wonderful-although perhaps gradual-changes take place. Most beautiful of all, you will experience the presence and the person of the Risen Christ. If you get bored saying the same prayer every day, make up your own prayer-or pray in tongues (Judith and I try to pray at the beginning and end of each day together).

Here at Tommy's we pray.for one another several times a day on our retreat. One of our special friends is also here. She has been in constant pain in her neck for over a year and is slated for an operation next week for three herniated cervical discs. We don't know whether she will still need the operation, but all the pain left after 15 minutes of prayer!

What do we have to lose? Wouldn't it be wonderful if older Christians prayed with one an­other in nursing homes and retirement centers? What a gentle revolution-that wouldn't cost a thing, except time-would be wrought in our tired, sick world!

On this retreat at Tommy's, two friends came who are experts in nutrition, and we went through a "cleansing" fast, because some of our 'sludge' is caused by bad eating habits, which leads to plaque build-up.

-Francis MacNutt

P.S. If you would like to know more about the nutritional approach, I encourage you to order one of Dr. Loraine Day's videos, such as, "You Can't Improve on God." To order call 1-800-574-2437.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2002 Issue