Friday, July 10, 2015

Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along: Day 5



Welcome to Day 5 of the Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along! You can follow along on this three-week discussion of Persuasion and The Prayers of Jane Austen by checking out the read-along tag or by clicking the button in the sidebar.

Today is a special day, as we'll be discussing the first of Jane Austen's prayers from The Prayers of Jane Austen (the lovely book that inspired this whole read-along!). But first, I have a few links I'd like to share...

Reviews of The Prayers of Jane Austen:
  • "I truly can't find words to describe how deeply this book blessed me! If you have read any of Jane Austen's other books you will recognize her delightful writing style and voice. These are prayers that I will read and pray over and over again!" - Caitlyn @ Just Your Average Reviews (Click HERE to read the full review.)
  • "[The prayers] are beautifully written and show more of Jane's insights into human nature. They are filled with humbleness before God.... If you love all that Jane Austen has written, then this is definitely an addition that you will want to get for your collection." - Julie @ My Favorite Pastime (Click HERE to read the full review.)
Many thanks to Caitlyn and Julie for their reviews! If you've reviewed the book (or will be reviewing it in the next couple of weeks), leave a comment and let me know. :) I can link to it in next week's prayer post.

Blog post by the book's editor:

Introducing The Prayers of Jane Austen...

As an introduction to this discussion, I'd like to talk about the book for the moment. You might have heard of Jane Austen's prayers before - or possibly even read them elsewhere. But for a sweet little prayer book to have on your nightstand or to give to a friend, this hardcover suits the purpose perfectly. :) It includes images from the British Library's collections, as well as an introduction and essay from Terry Glaspey that discuss the nature of Austen's faith. 


I freely admit I work for the publisher that released this volume, so yes, I can hardly claim to be unbiased! But people who work for publishers can get excited about books, too, right? :) And I take particular delight in the style and care in which this book is presented. On a purely tangible level, it's a precious book to hold in your hands.


But on a deeper level, beyond pretty covers and illustrations, the prayers themselves are even more precious. I've only scratched the surface of Austen's work by reading Northanger Abbey and now getting into Persuasion (and watching various Austen movie adaptations - that should count for something, right?), but I can see that the keen insights and observations on human nature which have made her famous are also the key to what makes these prayers so moving. 


Terry mentions this in the book and in the blog post linked above, but it's worth repeating: Austen was heart-wrenchingly honest in her portrayals of humanity's flaws and desperate need for God's grace. I see her honesty in Persuasion: the way she describes Anne's fears and heartaches, Captain Wentworth's bitterness and frustration, and their true-to-life awkward meetings. And I see Austen's honesty in these prayers. 


Let's discuss the first one, shall we?

~ ~ ~

The Prayers of Jane Austen: Part I

Discussion Format: One quote to ponder, one observation, and one question for each day's reading.

Quote to Ponder

"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..." - Jane Austen

Observation

This prayer covers so much, moving inward to outward: touching on our relationship with God, our need for mercy and honesty with ourselves, what we have to be grateful for; then moving on to praying for others and seeking awareness and appreciation of God's work. The parts that especially resonate with me right now are the ones regarding sin and repentance. Austen pushes the theme of sincerity: sincerity in how we view ourselves, in how we feel the weight of our sin, and in how we go about the task of doing better.

Austen appeals for mercy, refers to salvation, and writes with tenderness in addressing God - so I don't think she's overlooking God's grace and the freedom He gives. I think perhaps her words offer a much-needed reminder of just how costly sin is. It can affect the way I spend my time, possibly hurt others, and pull me further away from God.

And the thing is, sin isn't as clear-cut as a laundry list of bad behaviors. As Austen alludes to, sin is also wrong thoughts and habits and attitudes. Something that's harmless to someone else can become a harmful obsession for me that absorbs my spare time and finances and heart. It's all in where my heart is at, and I've been feeling convicted of having my heart in a selfish and greedy place. Austen's prayer reminds me that sincerity with God and myself, each and every day, is crucial in realigning my heart.

Side Note: This "observation" is already long (sorry!), but I have to add that reading the Made to Crave Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst has also been a big help to me in this area. It's reminding me to check my heart motives and to recognize what (or rather Whom) my heart is really craving when I overindulge in things. I'm far from constantly living by that philosophy right now, but I want to be better.

Question

Did this prayer speak to you and your current situation in life? If so, how?

Giveaway!

Today's the last day to log your entries for this week's giveaway! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Prayers of Jane Austen. (You'll have two more chances to win this book over the next two weeks!)

(Giveaway open to US residents only. Prize donated by the book's editor, Terry Glaspey. Thanks, Terry!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We'll resume our Persuasion read-along on Monday (discussing chapters 9 and 10)!

4 comments:

Miranda Atchley said...

I think this is an example of one of the prayers we need to pray daily, because we mess up daily. We just need to ask God to show us where we need improvement in our lives so that He can help us become better Christians and better people.

Julie said...

Quote to ponder:

" 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."

This is a comfort to me. To know that God knows everything about me. I know that it can be intimidating, but to be known by someone so intimately is important. I can put a "good face" on for other people, but I can be real with God. He knows the good, the bad and the ugly of me and He still loves me.

Observation: I love the way this prayer has an order to it. It has the "formula" that I have always been taught to pray. You have the beginning that is praise for who God is, that acknowledgment that He deserves our honor. Then it moves on to a time of confession, repentance and asking for forgiveness. Next is Thanksgiving, being thankful for blessings and what God has done for us. Next a time of intercession, asking for our needs and the needs of others. Finally she ends again with praise to God.

Question:

Did this prayer speak to you and your current situation in life? If so, how?

I've been lazy in my prayer life and honestly at this point in time I need to be more focused and intentional about my praying. The Lord is reminding me in different ways and this was another helpful reminder to get my act together and pray properly rather than the hurried prayers of all my wants while falling asleep in the middle of said prayer.

I mentioned the drawings in my review. This is my second time reading these prayers and again the drawings captured my attention. Thanks for pointing out where they came from Amber, they may not be scenes from Jane's books, but they sure do fit :)

Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

So true! I know I certainly mess up daily, but we can seek God's forgiveness and strength and guidance daily, as well, in order to move forward in the right direction. Thank you for the comment! :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

I so agree! "He knows the good, the bad and the ugly of me and He still loves me" - now that's true comfort. Because God knows everything about us, even our sins before we confess them, then we don't have to (and shouldn't) make excuses. We can just seek His mercy and His help. And because He knows how and why we've failed, He also knows exactly how to help us. :)

That's a great observation about the structure of the prayer! I didn't even think about it, but that's so true. There's a bit of a connection with the structure of the Lord's prayer - understanding what the priority of our responses to God should be. Thank you for sharing that!

And I can absolutely relate to what you're saying about the current state of your prayer life. I feel like a lot of my prayers are hurried and simply listing off names of people I said I'd pray for. But there's so much more to prayer than that, and I need to grow in this area, too.

The drawings accompanying these prayers are so fitting, aren't they? Even though I don't know exactly what the images are depicting, Terry and one of my other co-workers noted that it does appear as if some of them could very well be based on Jane Austen's work. If not, they match well, anyway! So glad you like them. :)

~Amber