1571) Prayers of Jane Austen

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Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist, famous for six novels, especially Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  The novels were published anonymously and brought her little attention during her lifetime; but they have rarely been out of print since, and are considered classics.  These prayers (slightly edited) were written by her for evening family devotions.  The sentences evoke the style of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  The language may be difficult to read for those not used to the style, but whoever takes the time to read them slowly and thoughtfully will find in them an expression of deep and sincere faith and devotion.

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Give us grace, Almighty Father, to pray as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips.  Thou art everywhere present, from Thee no secret can be hid.  May this knowledge teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee with Reverence and Devotion, so that we pray not in vain.  Look with Mercy on the Sins we have this day committed, and in Mercy make us feel them deeply, that our Repentance may be sincere, and our resolution steadfast to endeavor against the commission of such in future.  Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures and the danger of our own Souls.  May we now, and each night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing Thoughts, Words, and Actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of Evil.  Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being?  Incline us to ask our Hearts these questions, and save us from deceiving ourselves by Pride or Vanity.  Give us a thankful sense of the Blessings in which we live, and of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference.  Be gracious to our Necessities, and guard us and all we love from Evil this night.  May the sick and afflicted be now and ever in thy care; and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort and protection of the Orphan and Widow, and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.  Above all other blessings O God, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation Thou has given us…  Amen.

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Almighty God, look down with mercy on thy servants here assembled and accept the petitions now offered up unto thee.  Pardon, O God, the offences of the past day.  We are conscious of many frailties; we remember with shame and contrition our many evil thoughts and neglected duties.  We have perhaps sinned against thee and against our fellow-creatures in many instances of which we have no remembrance.  Pardon whatever thou has seen amiss in us, and give us a stronger desire of resisting every evil inclination and weakening every habit of sin.  Thou knowest the infirmity of our nature, and the temptations which surround us.  Be thou merciful.  We bless thee for every comfort of our past and present existence, for our health of body and of mind, and for every other source of happiness which thou hast bountifully bestowed on us…  May the comforts of every day be thankfully felt by us, and may they prompt a willing obedience of thy commandments and a benevolent spirit toward every fellow-creature.  Have mercy upon all that are now suffering or are in any circumstance of danger or distress.  Give them patience under every affliction; strengthen, comfort, and relieve them.  To thy goodness we commend ourselves this night, beseeching thy protection of us through its darkness and dangers.  We are helpless and dependent; graciously preserve us.  For all whom we love and value, for every friend and connection, we equally pray.  However divided and far asunder, we know that we are alike before thee, and under thine eye.  May we be equally united in thy faith and fear, and in fervent devotion towards thee.  Pardon the imperfections of these our prayers, and accept them in the name of our blessed Savior.

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Father of Heaven… another day is now gone and added to those for which we were before accountable.  Teach us to consider this solemn truth, that we may feel the importance of every day and every hour as it passes.  May we earnestly strive to make better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us than we have done of the time past.  Give us grace to attain that temper of forbearance and patience 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 to think humbly of ourselves, and to be severe in the examination of our own conduct; but may we consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity which we would desire from them ourselves.  We thank thee with all our hearts for all the blessings that have attended our lives, for every hour of safety, health, peace, domestic comfort, and innocent enjoyment.  We have been blessed far beyond anything 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, O Lord, from evil this night…  May thy mercy be extended over all mankind, bringing the ignorant to the knowledge of thy truth, awakening the impenitent, and touching the hardened.  Look with compassion upon the afflicted of every condition and comfort the broken in spirit.  More particularly do we pray for the safety and welfare of our own family and friends, beseeching thee to avert from them all material and lasting evil of body or mind; and 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 Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Philippians 4:6  —  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

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