Praying With Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen
By Rachel Dodge (Bethany House, 2018)
“Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our Lips.”–Jane Austen’s first prayer
This devotional is a gem. It encourages us to pray, not just with our lips, but with our hearts. I find it a perfect balance of Austen and faith, with the depth I look for in a devotional guide.
Praying from Austen’s Prayers
Three lovely prayers are attributed to Jane Austen. The brief introduction shows Austen as a woman of faith. Each of the three sections of the book begins with one complete prayer, so we can consider the prayer as it was written.
Then each day:
- We read a few lines of the prayer.
- Rachel brings out a topic from those lines.
- She expands on it with illustrations from Austen’s life or passages from her novels.
- Scriptural principles are then woven in, with applications to modern lives.
- Several verses are framed during the chapter, set apart to meditate on.
- “An Invitation to Pray” calls readers to consider their own lives, what God may be saying to them, and what to pray about. This encourages us to think more deeply about what we have read.
- “Let us Pray” provides a prayer to read aloud, with places for us to add our own requests, thoughts, and needs. I really like this combination of a set prayer with a specific call for expansion. It keeps us from reading the prayer on a surface level, without thinking about it. We have to personalize it to our own lives.
Early in the book, Rachel Dodge addresses focus in prayer, which is an issue I struggle with. She encourages us to journal our prayers, and/or to read them aloud. I chose to do both as I prayed through this book, journaling ideas and thoughts from each chapter and praying the final prayer aloud, along with my own additions. It was very helpful, and I can look back over my thoughts and prayers later on.
Much of the book refers to joy (maybe that’s why I like it so much!). Day 25, “Inexpressible Joy,” begins with Austen thanking God for “for every hour of safety, health & peace, of domestic comfort & innocent enjoyment.”
Rachel then quotes one of Austen’s letters, in which she tells Cassandra that she had a very pleasant evening, for “no particular reason,” but that she doesn’t “think it worth while to wait for enjoyment until there is some real opportunity for it.” Austen knew how to enjoy everyday occupations and gatherings. Rachel says, “we see evidence in her life that she was a woman ‘filled’ with joy—in her writing, in her letters, and in her prayers.”
In Scripture (I Peter 1:8-9) we find that faith in Christ, leading to salvation, gives true joy. It doesn’t come from our circumstances. Rachel tells us, “Joy is not a state of being; it is a state of believing.”
The final sections encourage us to bring our troubles to God, remind ourselves of truth, and ask God to encourage and lift our hearts. And remember to thank him for his many gifts, as Austen thanks him.
A few more favorite quotes from the book:
“The name Almighty Father combines two of the most beautiful and contradictory forces in the universe: strength and love.”
“Discontentment and indifference are two prime enemies of thankfulness.”
“When we pray heartily for others, we come closer to the heart of God”
“Many of us try to fit God into our lives, instead of making God the centerpiece of our lives.”
“To Miss Crawford [of Mansfield Park], daily prayer is an empty ritual; to Fanny, corporate prayer and fellowship with other believers is a source of pleasure.”
When we focus too much on wanting more and more, “we start to believe the lie that life on earth can or should be like heaven.” (underlining is mine)
I had been looking forward to this devotional for quite awhile, and pre-ordered it from amazon. I was not disappointed. I read the kindle version, and found it lovely, clear, and easy to read. The book is written for Christians, though others may also find it interesting. There is a “Special Invitation” at the end for those wanting to follow Christ.
The 31 devotionals are each short enough to fit in a busy schedule. Each day these devotionals encouraged me, challenged me, and drew me to pray more deeply. I highly recommend this lovely book, for yourself and as a gift for the Austen fans in your life.
The introduction ends, “As you ‘pray with Jane,’ may the Lord unlock profound truths and hidden promises as you come near to him in expectation.” Amen.
Austen’s second prayer ends, “Pardon Oh Lord! the imperfections of these our Prayers, & accept them through the mediation of our Blessed Saviour . . .”. How can you grow in your prayer life, and draw closer to God?
(By the way, did you know that when you buy from amazon you can go to amazon smile and support the charitable organization of your choice each time you buy?)
Reviews of Other Devotionals on this Site
For more articles and book reviews on Faith and Jane Austen, see the category “Faith” above.
Previous Reviews on the Praying with Jane Blog Tour
For more perspectives on the book, check out some of the links below. Giveaways of free books are still going on at the sites marked, though you have to have a U.S. address to get a chance at a free book.
The Jane Austen Centre in Bath
October 31 – Praying with Jane, My changed Relationship with Jane, Jane Austen’s World, Vic Sanborn. Includes an interview with Rachel. Book Giveaway until Nov. 17.
November 1 – So Little Time, So Much to Read!, Candy. Includes a different interview with Rachel.
November 2 – Laura’s Reviews, Laura Gerold. Giveaway ends Nov. 16.
November 3 – Burton Reviews, Marie Burton
November 4 – Sophia Rose’s Place, Sophia Rose. Giveaway ends Nov. 14.
November 5 – Jane Austen in Vermont, Deborah Barnum, Guest blog by Rachel Dodge. (Giveaway finished.)
November 6 – Calico Critic, Laura Hartness. Giveaway ends Nov. 14.
November 7 – A Bookish Way of Life, Nadia Anguiano
November 8 – Diary of an Eccentric, Anna Horner
November 9 – Becoming, Nichole Parks
November 10 – My Jane Austen Book Club, Maria Grazia
November 11 – My Love for Jane Austen, Sylvia Chan. Giveaway through Nov. 18.
November 13 – Faith, Science, Joy … and Jane Austen, Brenda Cox