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.
>thank you for writing the prayer for retired pastors. frank
>Your welcome, Frank. Glad you liked it.Rick
I have been struggling with what to say to our pastor as he embarks on retirement. This prayer is a blessing and I truly thank you for it.What a beautiful prayer blessing the man of God.
Very insightful concerning the past experiences and future hopes of clergy who come to retirement after years of ministerial service and very well said. Thank you.
Beautiful and touching, Rick, don’t forget some of us are “she” and we too retire! Cant say I’ve made my peace with it but am working on it. Shalom –Irene Jones
I’m glad you liked it. I tried to write a generic unisex version, but it just fell flat. I know some of us are “she” (my daughter just got ordained in the UCC), and I think the struggles we have with it transcend gender. Blessings to you. Rick
Thank You I am using this prayer to create a prayer card for everyone who attends Fathers retirement celebration.
That’s great. Thank you. Attribution please 🙂
Our parish is closing and what a beautiful prayer for our priest as he retires. Thank you so much..
God bless you and him in this transition, and a new chapter!
Rick, Thank you so much for authoring this wonderful retirement prayer! As nurse for the past 40 years I would know just what to say at a colleague’s retirement but was struggling with what to say for our pastor’s retirement. This is perfect! Blessings to you!
University Heights UMC
Hi Vicky. Somehow I missed your comment when it came. Thank you for the kind words. I am glad you found my prayer useful. Blessings.