Here is a retirement prayer that’s useful for retirement ceremonies or to use as your personal prayer for a friend who is retiring.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you in thankfulness for the many years of service given by our friend and colleague who is retiring. We thank you for the long term contributions they have made in the execution of daily tasks, in their loyalty to our organization and in their sharing of their experience and wisdom with others. We are appreciative of their hard work and dedication. They have adapted to many changes over the years and have made sacrifices of their personal time when the job demanded it. They have been a mentor and friend to their fellow employees and have worked faithfully despite their own personal obligations, joys and challenges.
We pray your continued blessings on them during this next phase of their life. May your Presence be with them as they choose new paths and explore new horizons. May they be blessed with strong networks of friends and family to enjoy the journey that lies ahead. Keep them vigorous in body, mind, soul and spirit. Open new doors of service that will satisfy their desire to give and that will make a lasting difference in our world. May they find many receptive hearts and minds for the wisdom they have to offer and many recipients to receive their love and care.
Today we leave them with this blessing from the book of Matthew: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)
And so we end our prayer, thankful for what has been and grateful for what has yet to be.
In the several months since I started this blog I have had quite a number of visits from people doing a Google search for “Retired Pastor.” Many of them are looking for things to say at a retirement for their pastor, a farewell sermon or a prayer. Instead they have found things like long treatises on eschatology, rants about the Red Sox, and borscht recipes.
Never being one to want to disappoint I decided to write a prayer for a retired pastor. I may be retired, but I can still write a prayer. So here it is. I started out writing a rather generic one with (name) and (his/her), but it came out eerily disembodied. So I fell back on an ancient practice, and called my retiring pastor Theophilus, the addressee of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, a name that translates from the Greek roughly as “friend of God,” or “beloved of God.” Since I never knew Theophilus I just wrote the kind of things that I would have liked to have been prayed when I retired, so in a sense this prayer is, at least partly, for myself.
Prayer for a Retired Pastor
Almighty and ever-living Father, before whose face the generations rise and fall, we give you thanks and praise for all the blessings of this day, and for all the ways, in season and out of season, that you provide for us.
In this season, on this day, we invoke your Holy presence upon this congregation as it gathers in memory and hope to thank and bless this, your servant, Theophilus, at the conclusion of his active ministry.
We give you thanks for those early promptings of your gentle Spirit that stirred his heart to consider this holy calling. As “young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams,” we praise you for the persistent vision that led him through long years of service as a minister of your Word.
We thank you for bestowing the necessary graces upon him for carrying out the work to which you called him. Through trials and temptations your eternal presence strengthened and comforted him. In the dry seasons you provided him with living waters to restore his soul. Your unseen hand supported him with the courage needed for the struggles to make real the love of Jesus Christ by word and deed. In the face of disappointments you surprised him again and again with unexpected joy.
Lord God, without whose daily grace none could stand, we earnestly entreat you now to forgive Theophilus all his shortcomings and failures in your service, and to endow him with a calm mind and a peaceful heart as he concludes his days of active service. Remind him that your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts, and that the seeds he sowed and planted and watered during his ministry often only bear fruit in your good time, unseen and unknown except by you.
Our times are in your hands, O God. Bless Theophilus now in this new season of his life and this new chapter in his calling, that his remaining years may be full and fruitful, and assure him of his place, by your grace, among the great cloud of witnesses, living and dead, who have witnessed to your truth and lived out your love. And when his days come to an end grant him the gift of peace and the assurance of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.