Hello, Literary Life readers! This October, I invite you to join the conversation as we discuss my book, Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen, a devotional book based on the three prayers Jane Austen wrote during her lifetime for the purpose of corporate family prayer. As we explore the faith and religious life of one of the world’s most famous female authors, we’ll also discuss the impact her faith had on her writing.

Praying with Jane includes reflections on Austen’s prayers, key Scripture verses, personal application, and examples from Austen’s life, letters, novels, and family memoirs. I hope you’ll join us as we explore new facets of our own faith and prayer lives in light of what we can learn from Austen’s intriguing life of faith!

For the remaining days of October, we are focused on this prayer:

Father of Heaven! whose goodness has brought us in safety to the close of this day, dispose our Hearts in fervent prayer. Another day is now gone, & added to those, for which we were before accountable. Teach us Almighty Father, to consider this solemn Truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, & every hour as it passes, & earnestly strive to make a better use of what Thy Goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the Time past.

Give us Grace to endeavour after a truly Christian Spirit to seek to attain that temper of Forbearance & Patience, of which our Blessed Saviour has set us the highest Example, and which, while it prepares us for the spiritual Happiness of the life to come, will secure to us the best enjoyment of what this world can give. Incline us Oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, & to judge of all they say & do with that Charity which we would desire from Men ourselves.

We thank thee with all our hearts for every gracious dispensation, for all the Blessings that have attended our Lives, for every hour of safety, health & peace, of domestic comfort & innocent enjoyment. We feel that we have been blessed far beyond any thing that we have deserved; and though we cannot but pray for a continuance of all these Mercies, we acknowledge our unworthiness of them and implore Thee to pardon the presumption of our desires.

Keep us Oh! Heavenly Father from Evil this night. Bring us in safety to the beginning of another day & grant that we may rise again with every serious & religious feeling which now directs us.

May thy mercy be extended over all Mankind, bringing the Ignorant to the knowledge of thy Truth, awakening the Impenitent, touching the Hardened. Look with compassion upon the afflicted of every condition, assuage the pangs of disease, comfort the broken in spirit.

More particularly do we pray for the safety and welfare of our own family & friends wheresoever dispersed, beseeching Thee to avert from them all material & lasting Evil of Body or Mind; & may we by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit so conduct ourselves on Earth as to secure an Eternity of Happiness with each other in thy Heavenly Kingdom. Grant this most merciful Father, for the sake of our Blessed Saviour in whose Holy Name & Words we further address Thee.

Our Father . . .

—Jane Austen

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Love in Christ,

Rachel

 

Keep the Night Watches

During her first night at Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland’s imagination gets the better of her. In the old, dark, and drafty house, with a storm raging outside, it doesn’t take much for the fanciful Catherine to lose her nerve. When she goes to her chamber at the end of the evening, she enters “her room with a tolerably stout heart.” However, once her fire dies down and her candle goes out, Catherine’s bravery quickly dissolves.

Continue reading “Keep the Night Watches”

Give Us Patience

This portion of Jane’s prayer is a prayer of intercession. In it, Jane prays on behalf of “all” who are suffering or are “in any circumstance of danger or distress.” Her words reflect her confidence in God’s ability to strengthen us during times of pain and trial, comfort us in our seasons of deepest need, provide us with his tangible help and presence in life’s hardest moments, and give us “patience under every affliction.”

In Mansfield Park, Fanny experiences distress on a daily basis. She has no voice, her opinions are misunderstood, and her wishes are disregarded. Her little attic room and her conversations with Edmund are her only refuge. She exists in a kind of middle-world between servant and family member, “carrying messages, and fetching” what others want. She suffers from various causes of loneliness and heartache throughout much of the novel.

Continue reading “Give Us Patience”

A Benevolent Spirit

By all accounts, Jane did embody a “benevolent spirit toward every fellow-creature,” in her relationships with her friends, acquaintances, and family. She was particularly loving toward her nieces and nephews. It doesn’t appear that Jane’s writing schedule or personal agenda ruled her life or her days or that she was annoyed by the talk, play, or presence of small children. In fact, quite the reverse seems true. Jane was generous with her time and her talents.

Austen family letters and memoirs show that Jane was a loving and affectionate aunt who enjoyed family life and entertained the children in her family with “the most delightful stories, chiefly of Fairy-land,” in which “her fairies had all characters of their own.” And though she wrote quite prolifically in the latter part of her life, she still spent time with her family and was reportedly “the general favourite with children; her ways with them being so playful, and her long circumstantial stories so delightful.” Continue reading “A Benevolent Spirit”