I have always wanted to visit the house where Jane Austen spent the significant latter part of her life. Jane Austen’s House in Chawton in Hampshire opens again to the public as a museum this February. She is one of my favourite writers. Her uneventful and somewhat tragic life induced her to write about people so realistically and yet with so much affection and confidence in the power of redemption, the power of God turning things round for us. Some time ago when visiting this house it was with delight that I found the following prayer, written in her own hand, framed on the wall of the house where she lived:
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 blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our own 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.