Category: Devotion

Jane Austen’s Prayers

JANE AUSTEN’S PRAYERS       

We are all familiar with Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey – but did you know that Ms. Austen also wrote three prayers? Jane likely penned her three prayers as “evening prayers,” intending them to be read aloud. Let’s take a look:

JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST PRAYER
(Abridged version. The full text can be read here.)

Give us grace almighty father, so 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 the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our thoughts on thee, with reverence and devotion that we pray not in vain.

May we now, and on each return of 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 oh! God, to save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity.

Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear us almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray. Amen.

Isn’t that beautiful? This prayer holds true to Austen’s moving and articulate style and offers wonderful insight to the types of prayers spoken during the Regency. It is important, however, to remember that while the words themselves are indeed lovely, it is not the eloquence of the words that is pleasing to God – it is the attitude with which the prayer is spoken.

You see, prayer is an outpouring of faith, and we pray to strengthen our relationship with God. And how do you strengthen relationships? By sharing your dreams, fears, and desires. God is faithful to hear our prayers, and even if we do not always have the perfect words, God knows our hearts. So I challenge you: Find somewhere quiet where you can be alone with God and have a conversation. Share your heart with Him, and listen for what He has to say.

Want to read more about what God has to say about prayer?  Here are some verses to get you started.
Matthew 6:5-14 | Romans 8:26 | Philippians 4:6-7 | Psalm 107:28-30
Matthew 7:7 | John 14:13-14 | Mark 11:24Ephesians 6:18

Originally posted 2012-02-17 10:00:00.

Providence, Let Me Love You

Vanessa here with a devotion from my heart:

Providence, let me love You like my chosen betrothed. Flood my arms with anticipation, so the pimples tickle the lace of my best ball gloves. I sweep my fan and search for You above the crowds.

With a quickened pulse, I slip away to greet You in the privacy of my hostess’s garden. Let me come to You uncaring of my appearance, unworried about my reputation. Let no concern shadow my heart about my unworthiness of this match. Pray let me not fall victim to my doubts or be persecuted by my memories, the false promises of my past.

I run to You now in the midst of the spring shower with muslin and sarcenet gathered in my palms. My lifted skirts expose my ankles to the soft kisses of raindrops. I twirl in circles trampling my foolish pride with the tender soles of my slippers.  Joy fills my lungs for at last I know it is You who loves me, just as I am.

Let me embrace You like my true betrothed and seek You in the hidden places. The labors of my hands, the burdens upon my shoulders disappear in Your presence. The lightness of Your yoke frees me to sing as Your fragrance, the myrrh and frankincense, anoints the cuff of my sleeve. I smell safety and sense whispers of encouragement. My heart pounds at the softness of Your touch, the shield of protection You gird about me. Though it is I who strayed, I weep at the openness of Your arms, Your forgiveness.

Let me love You in fearless reverence. When the Ton scoff at Your humble beginnings and call You a tradesman’s son, make me not shun You or deny my feelings. I should know now that Your riches provide honor and inheritance for all my generations. Grow my heart to be as generous and as loving. Aid me to be light in this world and a proper helpmate for your ministry.

A wave of shyness grips me. I want to turn, but Your patience draws me. I lower my fan once more and glance at your beauty. There can be no falling away or breaking with You. I shall cling to your promises, your comfort. My lamp is trimmed and full of oil, and I await You, no longer a foolish virgin, but a hopeful bride seeking her Prince of Peace.

As you have your time of devotion this week, study these verses. Your true betrothed has sent an invitation.
Mathew 11:28-29
Mathew 25:1-13
Psalm 68:19
Song of Solomon 2:6
1 Corinthians 15:9

Originally posted 2012-02-10 07:00:00.

Love & Marriage

Hello, Jessica here! It’s February, and when I started thinking about Valentine’s Day during the Regency, I thought of a poem that many a Regency gentleman would have had in a volume on his bookshelves. It’s an epithalamion – or “marriage poem” – written by John Donne to celebrate a marriage that took place on Valentine’s Day. (If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.)

In the poem, Donne riffs on the legend that Valentine’s Day is the day when the birds choose their mates. He says, humorously, “Hail Bishop Valentine, whose day this is, all the air is thy diocese,” and goes on from there to make comparison between the marriages of the birds and the marriage of the human couple in whose honor his poem is written.


Photo credit: gracey from morguefile.com 

Marriage of the Birds

As I perused the poem in preparation for this blog entry, I admit that my first reaction was to geek out on all the cool literary and historical stuff in it – the use of avian and celestial imagery, the conceit that the whole poem is a speech to St. Valentine himself, the echoes of Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls” – but as I read further, my thoughts took a more devotional turn.

Even though the Regency was a time when the ideas spawned by the Enlightenment were changing the culture and a time when industrial progress was starting to creep over the landscape in the form of railroads and factories, it was still a time when the young minds of the landed gentry were saturated with ancient philosophy and poetry, thanks to the classical education so many of them received. The old idea of the natural world as a created, ordered system still held sway over the English imagination.

Thus, the idea of finding your spouse on the same day that the birds found their mates appealed not just because it was romantic, but because, in some mystical sense, it was right. Mankind was seen as a part of the natural order and it was fitting to let your own life reflect the order of the cosmos.


Photo credit: click from morguefile.com

First Comes Love . . .

Of course, even if getting married on Valentine’s Day was a good thing, no educated Regency gentleman would have said that it was necessary. But what most would have said is that there was an order to the cosmos and that humans were a part of it.

Romance and the Cosmos

Romance might be a small part of the cosmic order, but if it is a part of it, what does that mean? Well, it means what we’ve always known that it means: it means that romance is not something meant to stand alone. It’s a part of a bigger picture – it’s supposed to lead to and be a part of marriage. A wedding is the crowning glory of a romance. And then, over time, things shift, and romance becomes the warm affection of a faithful marriage. Romance is the gate a couple opens in order to walk down the path to their home – the home that was created when the two became one – and romance is the light and warmth that still adorn that home, months and years and decades after the wedding itself.

More than that, a good marriage becomes a window for us to understand the relationship between Christ and His church. Maybe the marriage of the birds was just a legend that provoked some beautiful poetry once upon a time, but the poetic relationship between human marriage and the wedding of the Lamb is a true reflection of eternity onto the skin of the natural universe. All good and true love is not only a gift from God:  it’s also an arrow that directs our gaze back to the greatest Lover of all.

Originally posted 2012-02-03 01:00:08.

Consistent Prayer

Vanessa here,

I am guilty. I am guilty of loading my plate to high, of volunteering for too much, of getting so busy that I forget to pray. This year I am going to be more consistent. Face it. There are a lot of things that need prayer. I have friends waking up in fear and depression. Truthfully, I counted more sad days that happy ones.

But God is in control. I thank him that the bad wasn’t so horrid, that tomorrow never came. Yet, I am convicted of forgetting or being too tired to do the one thing I can to alleviate the anxiety that wants to take hold.

Prayer. I am going to keep it simple, but I am going to be consistent.

I’m ordering a new prayer journal to keep me on this path. Yes, I am not just an author but a believer in the product too.

For your free PDF version of the Prayer Journal sign up here.

Here is the link to Amazon to order a print copy.