Breakthrough at Sunset
This book is lovingly dedicated to all senior citizens and elderly people within the Body of Christ in all nations. God has always associated the aged with honour. He addresses them as the ‘head’ in the nation and has used them as His powerful strategies against the powers of darkness. May His elderly saints live up to His expectation and calling! (Isaiah 9:6)
He has told you to ‘dream dreams,’ to be fruitful and to flourish in your old age, so obey Him! (Psalms 92:14). You
are His powerful strategy and His plans can never be completed without you.
REASON 2 : We are Free of Many Problems and Burdens of Youth
REASON 3 : We are Part of God’s Powerful Strategies! (God’s plans and strategies are incomplete without the aged.)
REASON 4 : We Must Rise to Protect This Battered Young Generation
(If we have not prayed, we have no right to nag, judge, criticize and complain)
REASON 5 : We are Needed to ‘Bridge’ the ‘New’ and the ‘Old’
REASON 6 : We Must Tap into the Great Anointing of Anna and Simeon
REASON 7 : We are God’s ‘Uncommon’ Elderly People; Let Us Reverse the Order of Dependency
REASON 8 : We are Commanded to be Above Reproach in Our Conduct
REASON 9 : We Have Been Given Life. We Should Return It to God with Good Works and Fruitfulness
(The growth of the spirit depends on the contents in the mind)
I believe most people do not feel comfortable about getting old. Some possess a morbid fear of being mentally and physically incapacitated in old age and being a burden to oneself and others. But must it all end this way? How does God assess old age? What are His expectations of the elderly man and woman?
Nowhere in the Bible do we see God giving up on the aged! In fact, when we associate old age with being incapacitated, irrelevant, useless and not needed, we dishonour God who has:
(i) determined the years of our lives and He wants us to “fill our days” ( Isaiah 65:20, Genesis 25:8). (Stop thinking of dying. The time will come according to God’s calendar not yours.)
(ii) always included the aged in His plans and strategies (Jeremiah 31:13, Joel 1:2,14). (Stop thinking you are useless for you are still being used by God as a part of His great work.)
(iii) always considered the aged person as “ beauty and a crown of glory” (Proverbs 16:31, 20:29). (Stop thinking you are ugly even if the wrinkles come.)(iv) commanded the young to honour the aged, even as they fear and honour God, because God Himself, honours and loves the aged (Leviticus 19:32). (Stop dishonouring yourself with negative confessions “ I’m old, useless and unwanted.”)
(v) told the aged that they must continue to “dream dreams, bear fruits in their old age and flourish” (Joel 2:28, Psalm 92:8). (Get out of your passive existence and start to be creative and innovative – dream of doing big things for God, flourish with good works.)
In order to reap power with God and be relevant in old age, we need to sow three very powerful things right now: prayers, righteousness and humility. The notable aged people in the Bible were men who possessed these three great qualities.
It is definitely not easy for the aged man and woman to be humble because most of them would say: “ I have eaten salt more than you have eaten rice; don’t teach me. I saw you grow up in diapers!” Humility with old age is a great ‘disarming’ quality because most aged people are stubborn, proud and demanding, and they think that it is their right to be so.
Abraham, God’s great friend and confidante, was humble, and did not “live out his right as an aged man.” He gave his young, worldly and contentious nephew the first choice of the land and of course Lot chose foolishly. The apostle Paul was humble in his old age, begging (not demanding) Philemon, his spiritual son to do him a favour by sparing the slave Onesimus. The great prophetess Anna was willing to live in the temple and to receive ‘handouts’. Jacob demonstrated humility when he politely asked his son, Joseph, to promise him a burial among his people in Israel.
These people could live in humility because they lived in prayers. Without prayers, humility and righteousness, growing old is indeed a fearful thing – something to be dreaded, not to be enjoyed. I have written this book because I am deeply burdened for this present young generation that has been so stressed out and battered mentally and emotionally by direct attacks from demons. The advent of globalization has connected our young people with the so-called global trends and this has not been healthy for them.
The incidence of mental sickness and drug addiction among the young is rising at a frightening speed. Malaysia itself is seeing an average of fifty new addicts daily! The addicts become thieves in order to feed their habits and innocent people die – in their own homes and in public places. Attacks and deaths occur while innocent people are getting into the car, walking by the roadside, shopping at the mall, having a picnic. Is there any safe place? Sin is definitely on the rise, but are our prayers on the rise?
The young and the middle-aged complain that they have no time to pray. Yet those who could and who have the most time on their hands are not praying. They are the senior citizens, the retirees or the aged. According to Biblical order, these older people are actually the key to protecting the young. At this stage of their lives and with their experiences, the older people should be teaching the younger ones the value of godliness, prayers, etc. They are to use their lives as an ‘umbrella’ to shade and shelter this young generation from further mental and spiritual assaults. Unfortunately, they are not doing it. Is it because they have not been taught? This is another reason why I have written this book.
One of the joys I have had this year is to see a core group of senior citizens raised up in the church to take prayer slots, praying an average of two to three hours in each slot. It is no wonder then that God told me, “Ye shall not go out with haste nor go by flight, the God of Israel will be your rereward” (Isaiah 52:12) when I was praying about returning to an itinerant ministry! It is a joy to any pastor to see that the prayer meeting in the church is no longer just a weekly meeting but a daily affair lasting seven hours because we have been able to mobilise the senior citizens, whose priority is to pray for Malaysia and the nations of the world.
I pray this book will be a blessing to you but most of all I pray you will get into action after reading the book. You may come to the STATION OF LIFE for a week if you desire a prayer impartation and learn how to pray with other senior citizens. I hope to see you one day at the school.
May you enjoy the remaining years of your life. Let the security, the warmth, the focus and the joy of old age come through prayer as you connect with the Lord, who loves you and who has given you life.
When I gave an altar call sometime ago in Brunei, an elderly man in his late seventies limped forward to kneel (rather awkwardly) at the altar. His left hand was paralysed, and he had lost most of his hair and teeth. He could not hear or see properly. The pastor told me that the man was in poor health. He had diabetes and high blood pressure and there were sores on his skin. With tears streaming down his eyes, this old man cried out, “ O Lord, take me, take me! Take all of me for I am willing and ready to go any where for you. Take me and use me, Lord!
Suddenly, the old man shouted, “ Lord, I give you my everything!” The pastor shook his head and said, “ See lah, when his everything is not in good condition, then only give God! If I were God, I would think twice before taking. How to take, eyes cannot see, ears cannot hear, feet cannot walk properly, organs don’t function well, teeth no more and anytime, without notice, he can change address man!”
How true. Most of us are like this, aren’t we? When we were young, healthy, popular and in prime condition, we wanted to live for ourselves, not for God. Even though we have retired from our former jobs, we still try to get into other businesses like direct selling, tuition centres, insurance, etc. so that we can ‘still make a bundle’ or ‘occupy our time’. We hardly think of God, of mission fields, of helping the poor and of prayers. We may not be aware of it, but these actions are strong implications that we are lord of our lives and that we want to take charge and be in control of our destiny. The human will is stubborn, even in old age.
Many of us do not even understand the words of Jesus to Simon Peter in John 21:18,
“When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” (John 21:18)
Here, Jesus was not only telling Peter about his future death on the cross, He was also talking about old age and spiritual maturity. The sign of true spiritual maturity in old age (many just grow old but do not mature) is the willingness to submit and be led by another (God) into experiences or places we do not want to go. God knows that everyone, especially the aged, loves comfort zones. When He deals with us, He knows exactly how to extricate us from our comfort zones. He has done it before – to Abraham, Jacob, Paul, Peter and Ananias. What makes you think He will not come your way?
Many aging Christians who have been in church for umpteen years have no thoughts for God until God starts to deal with them. All of a sudden something happens and they are jolted out of their comfort zones. Yes, so often when they are sick, lonely, rejected, threatened, fearful and have no where or no one to turn to, they suddenly think of God, and of giving Him their ‘everything’ (even though the ‘everything’ is not in ‘working’ condition!) and of going to the mission field! This old man’s pastor further explained,
“He insisted on going to missions with us but none of us wanted to take him because he may die anytime! We cannot baby-sit anyone on the mission field. Yet nine years ago, when he was still in good health, he rejected our repeated invitations to go on mission trips and to attend prayer meetings because he was busy doing his own thing – golfing and rearing birds!”
This old man may not make it to the mission field physically, but if he will learn how to pray, he will still be able to ‘go’ to the mission field and serve God effectively. All senior citizens, however old, fragile and weak, are still useful in the hands of the mighty God. They can still serve God in this hidden but powerful way.
When the Lord directed me to hide myself and live in Lahad Datu to pray and to write I had no idea that my books would go such a far way ¾ right into a jail in Thailand. The books touched a Thai prisoner and his African cell mate. The latter copied the books by hand so that he could have copies for himself and to lend to others in Africa. The Thai prisoner, former church elder and businessman, came to SOL after his release.
At SOL he received God’s mandate for his life and ministry. He will be using his house in Thailand as a prayer, healing and training centre for pastors and missionaries. He will translate SOL material into Thai to help his local Thai people. Through prayer and in obedience to God we can definitely travel to the nations of the world. Therefore, the aged have no excuse. They cannot say they are unable to serve God because they are not able to travel to the mission field. Anyone can go and ‘visit’ and serve in any place the world through prayers.With the advancement of science, medicine and good nutrition, many of us will live longer. A newspaper report I read says: “ The life span of men is 71 years and women 75 and this is expected to increase to 80 and 81 years by 2020.” (NST 10 September, 2004)
How wonderful it would be if all these elderly people were to utilize their days and live for God and for the advancement of His kingdom by giving themselves to prayers. Imagine the amount of fruit they can bear for God and the tremendous blessing they can be to the younger generation, who, in these days of globalization and demonic global trends, truly need our prayers.
It is by no accident that you are reading this book. God wants you to know that it is time for you to let Him take charge of your life. You have taken charge of your life for over half a century. Do you not think it is time to let Him take charge for the remaining days of your life? May God grant you the grace to “stretch forth your hand” and be willing to let Him lead.
Let us give ourselves to God and let Him use us while we are still in good working condition. Let us not wait till our eyesight dims, our legs weaken, our ears become hard of hearing and our bodies are smitten with old-age sickness before we say, “Take me, Lord! I give myself to You!”
King David lived for God. He prayed that God would teach him to number his days so that he could “apply his heart to wisdom”. He knew that the God-given lifespan for man is only 70 years (Psalm 90:10). As a king, he could be caught up in so many national activities but David wanted to be sure that what he did would count for God and for eternity.
Today’s senior citizens have involved themselves in so many activities (dancing, exercise, singing, outings, etc). Although useful, none of these can count for God nor help enrich or deepen their spiritual experiences and cause them to bear eternal fruits. Those of us who are now in our fifties and sixties should know that we are not like the 20-year-old youth who can say, “ I still have 50 more years ahead of me; therefore I can take my own sweet time.”
No! We senior citizens who have already lived half a century definitely do not have “our own sweet time” or that many days ahead of us although we do have the time.
The young may have many days but very often, they do not have the time as they are bogged down with studies, homework, career, raising of children etc. Since senior citizens have the time, but not the days, we definitely need wisdom to choose what to do with our remaining years. That was the essence of David’s prayer.
Even if, by the grace of God, we live into our seventies and eighties, there is no guarantee that we will be mentally strong and clear-headed enough to prevail in serious praying. Many at this age experience mental fatigue, senility and physical weakness. Some find it difficult to concentrate at church worship or listen to an hour-long message or read the Bible. If we do not give ourselves over to a lifestyle of prayer now, we will never be able to do so in our old age because the older one grows, the harder it is to change.
Senior citizens must know the difference between more time and fewer days, because what they have is more time but not more days. This is why every day must count for us. Let us not waste our time and only use it to learn how to dance, cook, golf, rear birds, etc. It is high time we learn how to pray and engage in activities that will impact lives and bear lasting fruit.
Young people are burdened with studies, examinations and romance. They are often rash, hormone-driven and oftentimes irrational. They want to learn, to compete and to achieve. We understand that it is not easy for “young blood” to sit in the presence of God and prevail in prayers. Adults or middle-aged people are burdened with the problems of career, work, relationships, deadlines, marriage, the raising of children and other related problems. Not only is their time for prayers limited, their thoughts are also divided as they are burdened with so many things.The only group that is free from such problems and burdens is the group comprising senior citizens or the elderly. People in this age group have so much free time on their hands. However many do not realize that this precious season in their life is actually ‘God-given time’ for them to pray and to prepare themselves for the ‘next life.’ It is sad to watch so many aging Christians who do not know how to utilize the remaining days of their lives to enrich or deepen their spiritual experiences with God and to serve Him.
God invented times and seasons for everything in life. Even the ants know how to prepare for the winter but unfortunately many human beings, God’s highest creation, are not as wise as the ants. They fail to recognize that this important ‘sunset’ season of their lives, during which time they have been freed from the burden of work, raising up of children, etc. is the time they must prepare themselves for Him. Those who know they are the bride of Jesus Christ will get ready for the Bridegroom.
I have heard of the difficulties and problems retirees face but I fail to understand their problems, especially when they are Christians and have truly made Jesus Christ the centre of their lives. Why are they taking their years of retirement so badly? Can’t they see that this is the ‘God-given season’ of their life and they are to use it to bless His kingdom, their pastors and the church? Many pastors are short-handed, truly overworked and are looking for volunteers to serve (visitation, running errands, filling prayer slots, etc) but the senior citizens remain passive, choosy, demanding and are full of complaints. For this reason most pastors dare not ask for their help.
As a result, there is such an imbalance within the Body of Christ. The youth and the middle-aged people who want to serve are not able to because they are held back by their careers, studies, raising of children, etc. But the senior citizens who can well afford the time are not volunteering because they are choosy (about what work to do), demanding, (about how they should be treated), sensitive, opinionated and want to ‘be in control.’ The pastors and full-time workers are overworked while this group of older people has no work and they continue to remain passive, bored, unfocused and are often, full of complaints.God must surely do something to ‘jolt’ some of our senior citizens out of this introspective and ungodly existence to recognize that this ‘sunset’ season of their lives is to be the period of preparation for them to meet their bridegroom. In this period of our lives, we are already walking down the aisle to meet the groom! Have you ever seen a choosy, nagging, complaining and unhappy bride walking down the aisle? No!
We must recognize that we are no longer dating or courting the groom. We are already walking up the aisle to meet up with Him. So let’s stop the complaints, the demands and the murmurings. We need to work on our wedding garments. Make sure they are clean and white and we need to put on the most radiant smile – for the groom is coming for us anytime now!
Even our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mohammed Mahathir, recognized this. He said that after his retirement, he wants to utilize his time to read his Koran and to pray more so that he can “prepare for the next world and be ready to meet God.” Our present Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has urged the elderly in the country not to remain passive but to “ pray more.”
When we get older, we often think, “ Not at this age. I’m old and I don’t have it anymore; let the younger ones take charge.” This is really the lie of the devil. He puts this into the minds of the elderly because he wants to cut off the 9 to10 percent of God’s army in the land. The New Straits Times reported that by 2020, senior citizens will make up 13 percent of our population.If it is true that the aged are useless and have no more resources, then God would not have said in Joel 2:28 that the “old man shall dream dreams,” and that the aged “shall still bring forth fruit in old age”(Psalm 92:14). Dreams and fruitfulness, according to God, are not just for the young, they are definitely for the aged as well.
Abraham and Sarah were living examples of the aged who thought that their time was over. Physically, Sarah’s body could no longer bear children (Genesis 18:11-13) but God changed all that! The God whose word can cause an army of dry dead bones to come alive and become a mighty army can definitely revive a person’s physical, mental and emotional powers (Ezekiel 37).
Abraham, an old man, fathered a child when he was 100 years old and Sarah, an aged woman, gave birth when she was 90! After Sarah passed away, Abraham, who thought his ‘dreams and fruitfulness’ were over, went on to father six more sons by Keturah, his concubine (Genesis 25:1-3). Abraham, according to God’s powerful strategy and calendar (not man’s), only reached his optimum when he was a hundred years old, and his wife, when she was ninety!
What about the old prophet at Bethel? I believe God could not use him because this old man thought he had lost his prophetic power and spiritual gifting with age. This is what the devil wants us to believe. Although he was residing in Bethel, God did not use him to confront the wicked King Jeroboam for leading the nation into spiritual apostasy. Instead God summoned a young prophet from Judah to do the job. Later, when the young man fell into sin the old prophet rose to the occasion to deliver the needed prophetic judgment. To his surprise, he realized his gift was still intact!
He had not lost his prophetic or spiritual gifting even though he was old. I believe God has inserted this story because He wants us to know that His gifts and calling in our lives are “without repentance.” Like wine, they should be more refined and ‘power-driven’ as the years go by. Like old ginger, we should get hotter as the years pile on! (Read 1 Kings 13).
Caleb, the ‘old ginger’ and a shining example to the aged, realized this. This is why when he was 85 years of age, he told Joshua to give him a mountain, a mountain inhabited by hordes of hostile enemies. Can an old man climb a mountain and fight? Surely one should take it easy at this age? Climbing mountains and drawing the sword are only for the young; old man step aside! Not for Caleb! Nor Moses nor Joshua. These men did not take it easy because they knew the truth about God’s gifts and calling. They also knew that warfare and service to God are never over until God finally calls us home. God’s warriors do not retire, they just change address and return home. (Read Joshua 14:10-12).Anna and Simeon, God’s powerful servants before the coming of Jesus Christ were aged people who hid themselves in the temple to pray and fast for the manifestation of Israel’s Messiah. While the world wallowed in sin and darkness, God was preparing for Himself two powerful vessels – an aged man called Simeon and an aged woman called Anna. They were effective, sharp and hidden! Hidden away from the stress, complexities, carnality and competitiveness of city life, this pair of aged watchmen cried out to God day and night, “ Messiah come, Messiah come, O God, let Your light shine! Let Your light shine!” (Read Luke 2).
They prayed until they could see and touch the object of their prayers – the Messiah. After Simeon saw his Messiah, he asked to be relieved of his watchtower duty, so that he could die in peace. What powerful and purpose-driven lives they both lived. Though hidden, they saw, though quiet, they spoke and up to the present time, they are still speaking to us.Zacharias and Elisabeth, God’s strategic vessels for bringing John the Baptist into the world, were only used when they were old. When the angel announced to Zacharias that he would have a son, he could not believe. Because of his unbelief, he was struck dumb. Why did not God use a younger couple? Could it be that a younger couple would not have been able to provide John with a ‘unique’ and godly upbringing? Whatever the reasons this elderly couple only broke into their spiritual destiny when they were old (Luke 1).
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Young people today are growing up in a different environment from the one we older people grew up in. In the past, we were encouraged to study well and get good results but today, in this age of super technology and globalization, the young are challenged not only to study, but also “to explore new ways and new things, to be creative and innovative and to achieve not only excellence, but also greatness.” They are challenged to “ break the norm” and to possess a passion to compete relentlessly so that they can be “better than the rest.”
What do you think will happen to all these youths when they are pushed and challenged to such limits, especially when they lack spiritual fortitude and a sound value system? How can our young people achieve the best when they are not taught to honour God and to value human dignity but only to “break the norm” so that they can achieve greatness and be one cut above the others?
It is no wonder then that pandemonium reigns and their minds break down! The New Straits Times (NST 18 September, 2004) carried this disturbing headline, “ MENTAL ILLNESS AMONG TEENAGERS ON THE RISE.” The newspaper reported, “ One in five Malaysian teenagers suffers from some form of mental illness and the figure is rising. If these children and adolescents don’t get help, we are going to be burdened with a generation suffering from serious mental health problems.”
This is truly frightening...is anyone listening out there? What a terrible prophecy of doom over this nation. On top of this, we are told that there are two new drug addicts every hour. There are now more than half a million drug addicts in the country with 47 new addicts added daily. Multiply this by 365 days! This is why senior citizens must rise to pray and break this curse over our young people. They are truly a “battered” generation.
Another headline in The New Straits Times (NST 12 October, 2004) reads, “THIRTY MILLION YOUTHS IN CHINA SUFFER FROM MENTAL ILLNESS”. The article says, “ At least 30 million Chinese youths under 17 years of age are suffering from mental or behavioural problems and the trend is set to rise.”
The advent of globalization (with its demonic global trends) has exposed young and impressionable minds today not only to all sorts of abnormal temptations and filth from the media but also to direct attacks from demons. Filth and smut flow too freely through the media. The call for young people to be innovative and creative or the call for them to “venture into uncharted waters and test the unknown” is too great a temptation to resist.
Only the worst, not the best can happen when youths who have no fear of God or a sound value system are told, “ There is no limit, no boundaries, just go ahead and be creative; be innovative and break the norm! Strive to beat down everyone else so that you can be the best.” This constant pressure for them to perform, to compete, to be “one cut above the rest” will be heeded because young people do not want to be irrelevant. They will cave in to the call of the secular world, to peer pressure and try to catch up with the maddening mob.
Young people today are indeed living not only under mental stress, they are also experiencing direct assaults from evil spirits. They desperately need the prayers of their families, especially their parents, grandparents or elderly mentors. Many behave irresponsibly and are incorrigible in their repugnant behaviour because they are under bondage. Added to all their problems are the negative reactions of the older generation, who often judge, criticize, complain, scold, call them names and even curse them, except pray for them.
Who can live for long under such pressure without caving in and beginning to exhibit some form of rebellion and depression? Most youths today do not seek God, do not know how to pray, do not read the Bible nor possess a sound value system. All these are irrelevant to them. In England, the British government has endorsed the teaching of atheism in their schools.
What then, should their elders (be they parents, mentors, grandparents) do? Shouldn’t they seek God on their behalf? Shouldn’t they, the elderly or the aged who have plenty of time on their hands pray for them? If we have not prayed, blessed nor ministered to them, then surely we have no right to criticize and to judge them.
Unfortunately, we are living in days when most elderly people also do not know how to pray and do not want to pray. They can attend church, seminars, symposiums, go for mission trips, etc. but they just do not want to pray. One hour of prevailing in God’s presence is like being in the torture chamber – they sigh, they fidget, they look around and they fall asleep!
How pathetic indeed is this generation of young people. They have parents and grandparents who are able to give them everything and anything but do not pray for them, do not set them free from invaded minds and do not impart to them the knowledge of God. O that God will bring back the elderly Isaacs who will lay hands on their sons to bless them, the aged ‘Jacobs’ who will rise up and prophesy over them and the aging Davids who will charge their sons to remain faithful to their God.
God will not work deeper into the lives of our children, our grandchildren or the younger generation when we do not minister to them. We minister to them by prayers, by prophecy, by direct counselling, by charging them to keep God’s Word and by spending time with them. As a pastor, an itinerant minister, a writer and an administrator and teacher of SOL, I definitely do not have the time for all the young people in my church but I do find time to pray for the youths in my nation and to impact into the lives of the few whom I discern bear the call of God upon their lives.
But what about you? If you do not have a church to pastor, a school to run, books to write, deadlines to meet or messages to prepare, what then do you do? If you are retired, do not just spend your time in golfing, rearing birds, swimming, going on vacation after vacation, gardening, watching TV, going for tea two or three times a day and just sitting and talking and murmuring.
Spend time to do things that have eternal worth. Do not allow the spirit of prayerlessness to bind you – it will if you allow it to. There is nothing more sad than to see an aged man or woman who does not know how to connect with God. Learn to sit quietly in His presence with uplifted hands and a spirit of gratitude for an hour, at least twice a day.
We Are Needed To Bridge The ‘Old’ And The ‘New’
(Let the ‘new’ moves today be birthed by the prayers of the ‘old’ )
Most of us know about Samuel and his powerful prayer life but not many of us are aware that Samuel was able, by his prayers, to ‘bridge’ two very powerful regimes, the regime of the judges and the regime of the kings. I want to borrow a paragraph from page 86 in my book, “ONE SHALL CHASE A THOUSAND,” which says,“Although Samuel had no sympathy for the new regime, he was able to set aside his personal feelings and he worked with what the people had chosen ¾ a king. Samuel was able to bridge the old order (judges) with the new (kings) without any revolt or bloodshed.”
Yes, the ‘new’ was able to come in peacefully (without revolt, bloodshed, casualties) because the ‘old’ was there to pray for its arrival. This was the same in the days of Jesus. When God wanted to begin a new dispensation of grace by sending His Son, He had two powerful ‘old’ vessels named Simeon and Anna hidden in His holy temple to pray for its arrival and its manifestation.
Both these powerful watchmen lived in the regime of the old (the dispensation of law) but they spent their lifetime praying for the ‘new’ to come! They knew from God’s word that the Messiah would come to begin a new regime or dispensation, so they prayed and watched for its arrival. They saw its manifestation and they blessed it.
Christendom has been hit by many ‘new’ things in the past twenty years – the prosperity gospel, the prophetic move, apostolic wave, cell churches, breakthrough worship, ‘paradigm shift’, power evangelism, etc. but how many of these ‘new’ moves actually came through the prayers and the blessings of the ‘old?’ Yes, how many of these were actually birthed and ‘cradled’ by the prayers of the mature and the aged? Not many.
Is this why so many of these ‘new’ moves have such a sense of carnality, controversy and dark wisdom surrounding them? Though some of these new moves have brought a degree of blessing they have also been terribly abused. They have not been truly effective in making the church more holy or Christ-like, nor have they truly lasted. Instead they have, on many occasions, brought about division, ‘bloodshed,’ and many spiritual casualties.
These new movements did not have the prayers, the ‘watching-power’ and the blessing of the ‘old’ or the mature and the aged. There was no Samuel, Simeon or Anna to bless it, to cradle it, to prophesy over it, protect it and to carry it through. Instead of praying, watching and protecting the ‘new’ that has come, many of the ‘old’, out of ignorance, loathe and criticize it. Many ‘old’ warriors have chosen to remain ignorant instead of catching up with God’s ‘new’ moves.
The younger generation who started many of the ‘new’ movements often think they can carry on without the blessings of the older generation.No, God does not work like this. God does not want the ‘new’ to carry on without the blessings of the ‘old.’ The ‘old’ must live to ‘bridge’ the two by praying, by prophesying, by cradling and by blessing them. When this is done, then these powerful ‘new and young ’ movements of the Spirit will truly bless, gain ground and ‘stay their course.’
The ‘old’ must remember that the ‘new’ cannot do without their prayers. In any new move of God, there must be the Samuels, Annas and Simeons to rise up and help ‘bridge’ the two regimes. Every ‘new’ move of God must be preceded by the prayers and the blessings of God’s ‘old’ warriors or the forefathers. The ‘new’ or the young must always remember that they can never make it on their own and that they will not be where they are if it were not for the efforts of the ‘old.’ None of us ‘just happened.’ We are all a result or an ‘offshoot’ of someone’s efforts and sacrifices in the past. It is the ‘old’ that has brought the ‘new’ to where it is today.
We Must Tap Into The Great Prayer Anointing Of Anna And Simeon
(Rise and claim it!)
Simeon and Anna were aged people who spent their lives praying for the manifestation of Israel’s Messiah (Luke 2). While the aged in their days grew old in sickness, in loneliness, in fear, in bitterness, in idleness, in senility, etc. they grew old in the Lord. They became strong, focused, holy, joyful and powerful as they hid themselves in God’s holy temple to pray.
When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the temple, Simeon and Anna could immediately discern the Messiah. Both Simeon and Anna had no status, position or riches in the world, but they were powerfully endued by God. Anna did not even have any relatives. She had to live in the temple. Both were called upon to cradle their own Creator in their arms, to bless and to prophesy over Him before they died.
Where are the elderly men and women who will sacrifice, who will discern, who will prophesy and bless today? Are there no elderly people in our nation who will rise up to tap into this great anointing of Simeon and Anna? Are we going to let this powerful anointing of prayer, prophecy, sacrifice and discernment be taken to the grave? God forbid!
When the great prophet Elijah died, he could leave his powerful anointing to Elisha because Elisha followed “hard after him,” and was passionate about doing even better than his master. (“Give me a double portion of your spirit!”) But unfortunately when Elisha himself died, there was no one to inherit his great anointing. Elisha could not leave it to Gehazi (his long-time servant) since Gehazi’s heart was not in the right place. Instead of inheriting the anointing of his great master, Gehazi inherited leprosy! So Elisha took his great anointing with him to the grave.
Centuries later, when a dead man, possibly a Moabite, accidentally touched Elisha’s bones, he came back to life (2 Kings 13:20-21). Are we going to allow this powerful prayer anointing of Simeon and Anna go unclaimed? No! Let us rise to claim it! Let us rise to tap into this great prayer anointing of Simeon and Anna, ¾ an anointing that brings spiritual clarity, vibrancy, revelation, discernment and intensity that will keep us powerful, fruitful and focused even in our old age.
As we age, we naturally become physically weaker. With weaker hands, feet, voice and sight, we naturally become more immobile and our dependency on the younger people increases. Some old folks cannot exist without the presence or help of the young. This is why the world regards the elderly as ‘burdensome.’
An article in The New Straits Times reported: “Malaysia is faced with a growing problem taking care of an ageing population. Looking after the aged is going to be a challenge to the government and society. Insurance companies are not keen on insuring the old because of the high risk involved.” (NST 4 August, 2004)
Is old age associated with only weakness, uselessness and burdens? Of course not! If this is true then God would not have associated old age with glory and fruitfulness by declaring,“ The hoary head is a crown of glory,” and “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age” and “ The ancient and honorable, he is the head” (Proverbs 16:31, Psalm 92:14, Isaiah 9:15). The world has always associated old age with weakness and uselessness but this is definitely not God’s order. In the Bible, instead of witnessing the aged wallowing in uselessness and helplessness, I see them rise into God-destined power and glory and taking charge, with the young coming to them and depending on them.
Abraham took charge even in old age and commanded his servant to take the right bride for his son, Isaac (Genesis 24). Even though Isaac was more than thirty years old, he could not choose his own bride. Isaac yielded to Abraham’s choice because he sensed God’s power upon his father’s life.
I am sure what had happened at Moriah when his father was prepared to sacrifice him to God had an indelible imprint in his life. Isaac submitted to his aged father because Abraham had lived a life of complete submission to God. His detailed instructions to his servant were also carried out accurately and God miraculously provided the needed bride for Isaac. Abraham was a man of prayer. When you pray, you can take charge, even in old age.
When you pray, the young will depend on you even if you are old, immobile and blind. This was what happened to Isaac. Both his sons, Esau (the strong and macho) and Jacob (the fleshly and deceitful) coveted his blessing and prayers. Even though he was old, blind and immobile, they did not regard him as ‘irrelevant.’ Esau, though strong and ‘macho’, valued the blessing of his aged and God-fearing father so badly that he cried and begged for it because he knew that his father’s words carried weight (Genesis 27).
The prophet Ahijah, like Isaac, was also old, immobile, blind and ‘hidden’ in a village when the strong and mighty queen of Israel came to look for him. The queen had a crisis and needed help but could she not go to her many young and ‘suave’ counsellors within the royal palace? Surely there must be someone in the nation she could turn to besides the old blind prophet? No, this mighty queen felt only one man could give her the needed answer concerning her dying son. So she disguised herself and went to inquire of the aged prophet. Though blind, Ahijah saw through her. He told her who she really was and also informed her that her son would die. What power! A blind old man could see while the young and seeing could not! This old man was not dependent on the queen for help, the queen was dependent on him to help her (1 Kings 14).
Jacob was remarkable. He really took charge and commanded his sons, all twelve of them, even though he was weak, blind and sick at that time. When he called for his sons to stand in front of him, every one of them responded. None of them dared to say ‘no.’ Even Joseph, the prime minister in Egypt was helpless before his aged father when his father chose to reverse the blessings of his sons by giving the best to the second boy (Genesis 47, 49).
After many years of painful dealings from God, Jacob became so powerful that he could change tradition and broke the norm by taking the blessing of the firstborn and giving it to the second boy. He prophesied over each of his twelve sons and their descendants, (including the coming of the Messiah from the tribe of Judah), gave them instructions about where to bury him, arranged himself properly on his bed and died.
King David, though old and physically weak, could still give clear and accurate instructions to stop a national crisis. He was not useless, helpless nor was he burdensome. It was amazing how dependent the queen, the prophet, the priest and palace officials were on him during the time of national crisis. They headed for his bedroom for advice when Adonijah, one of his sons, illegally took the throne. David rose to the occasion to give detailed instructions and strategies about how to quell the rebellion. Had he not been around, Adonijah would have triumphed and God’s plan to put Solomon on the throne of Israel would have been aborted. Thank God the old man was there (1 Kings 1-2).
When the crisis was over, he went on to charge Solomon and instructed him as to what to do when he became king. This old man talked and the young man listened. Today, many aged people, especially the fathers and mothers, have lost the ‘power of talk’ because they do not pray enough. David was different. He had lived a life of prayer and intimacy with God in the days of his youth, and when he was old he could still rise to the occasion. The young depended on him for clear instructions and advice during the time of crisis. This is why the Bible said that David “died full of honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
When we live in God’s order, we can reverse the order of dependency. The young will come to us for advice, direction, instruction, prayers and blessing even when we are old and physically weak. We do not have to end life as a senile, useless and doddering person. This is God’s order but unfortunately it has not been lived out because many in the days of their youth had not lived for God by being prayerful and upright. As a result, they could not reap what they should reap in the ‘sunset’ years’. If we want to possess power and purpose in old age, then this is the time to build a strong prayer life! May it be said of us when we die, that we too, have died “full of riches and honour.”
God has a set a high standard of behaviour for the elderly. Let us read it in the NEW ENGLISH BIBLE:
“Let the older men know that they should be sober, high-principled, and temperate, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. The older women, similarly, should be reverent in their bearing, not scandal- mongers or slaves to strong drink, they must set a high standard, and school the younger women to be loving wives and mothers, temperate, chaste and kind, busy at home, respecting the authority of their own husbands, thus the gospel will not be brought into disrepute” (Titus 2:2-5).
The gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached not only with words, but also with sound behaviour. God expects the elderly men and women to put on the best conduct so that they can influence and set an example for the younger generation. Our conduct cannot be cannot above reproach and manifest Christ-likeness if we do not spend time to connect with God in prayer.
Many ‘gray-haired’ Christians who had been active in their churches for umpteen years are still very unholy in their talk and conduct because they only have a ‘church-going’ life but not a sound prayer life. Instead of being a shining example to the younger generation, many elderly people have often become stumbling blocks, especially to their own children and grand children who witness their bad behaviour in private.
We cannot change nor establish a high standard of conduct unless we have an inward encounter with God through prayer and intimacy. The prophet Isaiah was not aware that his ‘talking’ lifestyle was unholy until he had an encounter with God (Isaiah 6). That encounter with Reality changed him and gave him a high standard of behaviour for the rest of his life.“O God, bring the aged men and women into an encounter with Yourself. Many of us are so near to eternity yet we have no high standard of conduct and we are void of high spiritual pursuits because we have not been touched by Reality. Give us the ‘Isaiah” experience and by it, change us permanently.”
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When Dorcas, a saint in the early church died, she left her works behind (Acts 9). The works that she did for the poor testified to the useful and the fruitful life she had lived for God. Dorcas deposited something on earth during her earthly days and these works were visible to both man and God. What about you? When you die, what will you leave behind? Have you deposited anything into the earthly realm or sown anything into the spiritual realm that have blessed both God and man?
The following morning, the disciples noticed that the fig tree had started to wither from its roots. If God manifested such hatred towards a fruitless fig tree, we should know what His feelings are towards human beings, who have been recipients of His grace and love. God has given us life and an average of seventy years to bear fruit for Him. Truly, life is a gift from God and the way we live it is our gift to Him. Should we not return it with good works and fruitfulness?When Dorcas died she was missed. Her works and her ministry were so simple – just sewing clothes for the poor but it was done in love for God and for the poor saints at Jerusalem. God raised her to life and she could continue her labour of love. How many of us live our lives in such a way that we will be missed? Will your pastor and the church miss you after you are gone because you have been such a blessing to them? Or will they simply say, “Ah, no difference lah, whether he/she lives or dies. In fact it is better she/he goes because she/he was such a trouble maker!”
Prayer is simple. Use it to bless many ¾ individuals as well as nations. You can begin right now wherever you are to sow the seeds of prayer and then slowly build up your prayer time to an hour or two hours daily. Prayer is only difficult to hardened hearts and stubborn and reprobate minds. This is why people who pray must constantly come to the Lord to be cleansed, for without cleansing, we cannot prevail in His presence.
As a retiree or a senior citizen, you have much time on your hands. Do not idle the hours away for ‘an idle mind (at any age) is the devil’s workshop.’ It is frightening when aged men in their sixties, seventies and eighties commit crimes of passion, sexual assault and murder. To live till such an age and then to die in a lock-up or through a death sentence is indeed terrible. This also tells us that no one is too old for the devil to influence.When our mind is not occupied with the things of God, it is naturally occupied with the things of the world and thoughts that come from the devil which are negative and depressing. Most aged people tend towards negativism and depression because they allow their minds to be impacted with thoughts like, “No one loves me. My children do not care. I am useless. People are waiting to get rid of me. There is nothing left for me in life. I dread tomorrow for tomorrow will be like today and today was like yesterday – boring, depressing and lonely.”
If your mind is constantly filled with the wrong things, there is no way your spirit can grow. Our spirit grows when our minds are impacted with the right things – the positive word of God. This is why the book of Romans says that “ faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The things we hear must come from the positive word of God, not from our own minds, from the mouths of others, from the devil or from the world. The negative messages are saying, “ Being old is useless, being old is burdensome and good riddance to the aged.”
Why do you not occupy your mind positively and creatively? Instead of hearing all the negative things about old age, let us listen to what God says. God says, “Old men shall dream dreams” and the aged can “ still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” Flourishing! What a word! We tend to think that only the young can flourish but no, God says that even the old can flourish as long as they live in righteousness and live for Him (Psalm 92:14).
Let us flourish even when we are seventy, eighty, ninety or even a hundred years old! No wonder Caleb asked for a mountain when he was 85! It could be that he had read about Abraham fathering a child at 100 and Sarah giving birth at 90. President Ronald Reagan became the president of the United States when he was about 70 years old. Our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mohammed Mahathir was still in office when he was 76 and he is still fit to serve had he not chosen to resign.
Prayer is a wonderful way to keep your mind occupied. Anyone who is serious about prayer is also serious about world and national events. This will cause us to read or listen to the news and also get into healthy discussion with people. All this is healthy ‘occupation’ for senior citizens or the aged. Prayer means connection with God and this connection will release to the aged the needed sense of security, warmth, creativity and fulfillment. So rise up and pray and get interested in God’s world!
Learn to cut out newspaper reports about the needs of the nation, paste them in a book or put them on a notice board in your room and lay hands and pray for those needs. Wait on God and hear from Him and let Him specifically direct you as to how to pray for different nations and individuals. Or you can correspond with some lonely people like the prisoners and orphans, etc. Go a step further and personally visit the needy in hospitals and institutions. Better still, gather other senior citizens in your church and together with them, offer yourself as an intercessor in your church. As a start, you can do this just twice a week, praying for just one and a half to two hours.
It is vital that senior citizens (in their fifties or sixties) learn to pray so that when they enter their seventies or eighties, (when they will probably be more immobile) they have already established a lifestyle of prayer. They will know how to bear God’s burdens and take His yoke by entering into travailing prayers for the nations, intercessory prayers for individuals, commanding prayers to execute God’s strategies, contemplative and meditating prayers for personal growth and edification or sitting in God’s presence and enjoying Him.
We do not desire to become nagging, complaining, demanding, or lonely old men or women. In our sunset years, we desire to break through and be men and women of prayer. Then we will find favour with God and be empowered by Him. The younger people will seek us out, welcome us and heed our godly counsel.
While the airlines announce, “ FLY NOW, PAY LATER,” many senior citizens are unconsciously announcing, “DIE NOW, BURY LATER!” So many elderly people stop living after they reach their fifties and after they consider themselves ‘retirees.’ To live means we must continue to learn, to develop, to be creative, be innovative. We continue to explore new things, make friends, enjoy life and serve God actively.
There is such grave inconsistencies in the labour laws in so many countries, including our own. While government servants are required to retire at 56 years old, our top political leaders only get into office after that ‘retirement’ age! Our Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is 61 years old while Mahatir, our previous Prime Minister only left office when was 70! He would be allowed to continue if he has not opted out voluntarily.
If the ‘old’ is slow, untrustworthy and burdensome, then why are the aged and the elderly chosen as prime ministers, presidents and heads of nations? We should not believe the lies of this inconsistent world and the lies of the devil. Life should never stop at fifty or sixty and no one should retire so that “young blood can take over.” Definitely not in these days of globalization when most of the younger ones do not possess spiritual fortitude and a sound value system.The world is truly inconsistent ¾ they say one thing and do another! They call the ‘age’ into retirement and then they choose the aged to lead them. They think they do not need the elderly when in fact they do. They thought they cannot trust the elderly when in fact they do. Otherwise the nations would not have voted the elderly (usually those over 60) to become their governors, presidents, prime ministers and head of states!
While this consistent world with its false value system had send many of our senior citizens into unjust retirement, I pray this book will re-fire them and thrust them back into life again! As God’s senior citizens, we re-fire and we return…there is no room for retiring.
We die only when we stop breathing or when we are brain-dead. As long as we breathe, life is not over for an elderly person. So let’s start to live now by being obedience to God. This means we continue to dream, to bear fruit and to flourish.
“They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalm 92:14).
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; ….your old men shall dream dreams….” (Joel 2:28)