For many of us, we love Jane Austen, her books, and the world of Jane’s precious Victorian England. But what do we know of her prayer life? My friend Rachel Dodge has published a debut devotional of Jane Austen’s prayers. Please welcome her to the blog today. (There’s also a giveaway, so read through to the end!)
Outside of being an avid Jane Austen reader, what inspired you to write about Jane’s spiritual life? How has that shaped your own spiritual journey?
I’ve always been fascinated by Jane Austen’s personal life. I love reading her letters, her prayers, and the family memoirs written about her. She grew up in a devout Anglican family and was a strong Christian. I wanted to write a book that would highlight Austen’s prayers and the way her faith influenced her life and writing. I wrote Praying with Jane as a devotional book because I wanted to give readers the chance to slow down and savor Austen’s prayers. Each day’s entry includes a portion of her prayers, key Scripture verses, anecdotes from her life and novels, thoughts for personal application, and an invitation to pray. It’s my hope that readers will draw closer to God in prayer as a result of their time spent “praying with Jane.”
My own spiritual journey has been shaped by my deeper understanding of Jane’s prayers and by the process I’ve gone through to research and write this book. I’ve never been one to write out my prayers consistently, but since I started writing this book, I now write out my own prayers almost daily. I didn’t plan that; it just happened. My prayers aren’t as elaborate as Jane’s, but I love “talking to God” on paper. It helps me articulate my prayers, stay focused, and keep track of the wonderful and mysterious ways God answers me. There was also a full week last summer when the Lord told me to stop all work on the project and devote myself to prayer. I’m still seeing fruit from that week of prayer (in both my writing and my personal life).
I’ve often written down my prayers too and have discovered that it’s a special conversation with God. What is your favorite Jane Austen prayer from your book?
I love that each of Jane Austen’s three prayers includes a time of thanksgiving, confession, petition, and intercession (praying for others). Her language is beautiful and fervent. Trying to choose just one line to share is difficult! Here are a few of my favorite lines (written as they appear in the original manuscripts):
“Thou art every where present, from Thee no secret can be hid; May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee, with Reverence & Devotion that we pray not in vain.” (Prayer One)
“Thou knowest the infirmity of our Nature, & the temptations which surround us. Be thou merciful, Oh Heavenly Father! to Creatures so formed & situated.” (Prayer Two)
“Father of Heaven! whose goodness has brought us in safety to the close of this day, dispose our Hearts in fervent prayer.” (Prayer Three)
Those are beautiful prayers. She inserted a lot into such a few lines. Who is your favorite Austen character or favorite book?
I side with Jane Austen herself here. In a letter to her sister, Cassandra, Austen wrote this about Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: “I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.” I admire Elizabeth’s loyalty, wit, and spirit. She knows her own mind, but she’s also quick to admit when she is wrong. She’s someone I’d like to know.
Thanks for sharing your time with us, Rachel! And readers, don’t forget to read about Rachel, her book, and enter the giveaway below!
About Rachel Dodge
Rachel Dodge teaches college English and Jane Austen classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and Jane Austen groups, and is a writer for the popular Jane Austen’s World blog. She is passionate about prayer and the study of God’s Word. A true “Janeite” at heart, Rachel enjoys books, bonnets, and ball gowns. She makes her home in California with her husband and their two young children.
About Praying with Jane
For more than two hundred years, Jane Austen and her novels have charmed readers from around the world. While much has been written about her fascinating life, less is known about Jane’s spiritual side. In this beautiful 31-day devotional, Austen’s faith comes to life through her exquisite prayers, touching biographical anecdotes, and illuminating scenes from her novels. Each reading also includes a thematically appropriate Scripture and a prayer inspired by Jane’s petitions.
Where Can Readers Find You?
The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and other retailers. My web site www.racheldodge.com has links set up.
Click the link here to enter the Giveaway! Rafflecopter Giveaway
Which is your favorite Jane Austen book or character?
Rachel and I would love to know in the comments!