We have come to the end of our study. Below are the closing lines from each of Jane’s three prayers. With these words, Jane concludes her own prayers and leads into the Lord’s Prayer, which would have most likely been recited out loud, corporately. In these lines, Jane asks their “Almighty God” and “most merciful Father” to hear their prayers, “for His sake who has redeemed us,” referring to their “Blessed Saviour,” Jesus Christ, saying that it’s in his name and “Words” that they pray.
In this portion of her prayer, Jane prays for the “safety and welfare” of her family and friends, asking God to keep them from “all material & lasting Evil of Body or Mind.” She also asks for the “assistance of [God’s] Holy Spirit” to conduct herself on earth and looks forward to “an Eternity of Happiness” with her family in God’s “Heavenly Kingdom.”
In Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter, Irene Collins says Jane was “encouraged to strengthen her faith by prayer and worship but to make her witness in the world through her behavior to others rather than by preaching.” Though Jane’s father and brothers did preach from a pulpit, she herself preached a more subtle sermon in the way she lived and wrote.
Jane experienced a season in her life that was marked by loss and change. In 1797, Cassandra’s fiancé died in the West Indies. In 1801, Jane’s father retired and moved their family to Bath, away from her beloved Hampshire. Then in 1806, while in Bath, her dear father died suddenly and without warning. Jane didn’t write as much during her years in Bath, which some attribute to a lack of inspiration or a dislike of the town itself. However, it may be that Jane was affected most by who and what she lost while living there.
Austen’s novels are littered with characters who perhaps end up with better than they deserve. Edmund, after following Miss Crawford around like a lovesick puppy and giving up ground on many moral issues, still ends up with kind Fanny; Emma is forgiven her many failings and faults and marries generous Mr. Knightley; and Edward Ferrars, after making a foolish secret engagement with Lucy Steele, marries sensible Elinor. Grace is given and lessons are learned.
Jane once wrote in a letter to Cassandra, “I had a very pleasant evening, however, though you will probably find out that there was no particular reason for it; but I do not think it worthwhile to wait for enjoyment until there is some real opportunity for it.” On another occasion, she wrote this in her typical dry humor: “Next week [I] shall begin my operations on my hat, on which You know my principal hopes of happiness depend.”