Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Book Review: Praying with Jane

Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Rachel Dodge. 2018. [Oct] Bethany House. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From the introduction: Jane Austen is known for the beauty and romance of her words.

Premise/plot: This devotional is built around three written prayers of Jane Austen. Dodge breaks down each prayer into bite-size pieces providing ten days of devotional readings per prayer. The thirty-first devotional focuses on The Lord's Prayer.

Within each devotional, Dodge provides biographical information on Austen, commentary or insight from Austen's other works (her letters, her novels, etc.), and a glimmer of theological truth. Each devotional invites readers into a relationship with Jesus Christ and offers a model prayer.

My thoughts: I will be the first to admit that I can be harsh when it comes to devotional books. Unlike many I look for substantive meat, complex theology that engages the mind and inspires the heart but that also isn't afraid of convicting or rebuking. I look for devotions that have you diving and diving deep into Scripture and not devotions that merely have you dipping your toes in the water. I come looking for a side dish to a hearty meal and not a breath mint. Many devotionals fall short of this biased standard of mine.

Many devotionals include the tiniest nugget of Scripture and a lot of stories. These stories can either be biographical and personal--testimonies of what God has done for the writer--or fictional illustrations of a theology lived out in the real world.

Praying with Jane relies more on observations from Jane's life--her biography--and her novels than it does on Scripture. Readers do get glimpses and glimmers of Scripture and Scriptural truths. And many--if not all--devotions do lead to the gospel and an invitation to readers to enter into a relationship with Jesus.

Praying with Jane would be a great fit for those who love, love, love Jane Austen, for those who have spent hours, days, weeks, months, years, even decades immersed in her novels. There is nothing wrong with being immersed in her novels and adoring film adaptations of her novels.

I did love the three prayers by Austen.

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
Above all other blessings Oh! God, for ourselves & our fellow-creatures we implore Thee to quicken our sense of they 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 hast given us, nor be Christians only in name. ~ Jane Austen
When we think of a Jane Austen heroine in need of sincere repentance, Emma Woodhouse comes to mind. ~ Rachel Dodge
Jane's prayer points to an inescapable truth: pride and vanity lead us astray because they cause blindness. It happened in the Garden of Eden; it happens daily to each of us. ~ Rachel Dodge
Almighty God! Look down with Mercy on they Servants here assembled & accept the petitions now offered up unto thee. ~ Jane Austen
Pardon Oh God! whatever thou has seen amiss in us & give us a stronger desire of resisting every evil  inclination & weakening every habit of sin. ~ Jane Austen
Pardon Oh God! the offenses of the past day. We are conscious of many frailties; we remember with shame & contrition, many evil Thoughts & neglected duties, & we have perhaps sinned against Thee & against our fellow-creatures in many instances of which we have now no remembrance. ~ Jane Austen
Father of Heaven! whose goodness has brought us in safety to the close of this day, dispose our Hearts in fervent prayer. ~ Jane Austen
Another day is now gone, & added to those, for which we were before accountable. Teach us Almighty Father, to consider this solemn Truth as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, & every hour as it passes, & earnestly strive to make a better use of what Thy Goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the Time past. ~ Jane Austen
Incline us Oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, & to judge of all they say & do with that Charity which we would desire from Men ourselves. ~ Jane Austen
May thy mercy be extended over all Mankind, bringing the Ignorant to the knowledge of they Truth, awakening the Impenitent, touching the Hardened. ~ Jane Austen
Do you want to know the same "Almighty Father" Jane Austen knew and loved? Do you want to be set free from sin, forgiven, redeemed, and made new? Do you want to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? You can do that today. ~ Rachel Dodge

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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