With all of the movies, remakes, novelizations, satires, and articles, the one thing you rarely if ever read about Jane Austen is her devout religious faith.
Her father was an Anglican clergyman. The practice of the family’s faith was daily, including family morning and evening prayers, prayers before and after meals, private prayers, prayer before bedtime, and two lengthy worship services on Sunday. The family read devotional books together.
In a short work, author Rachel Dodge helps to broaden the understanding of Austen’s faith. Praying with Jane is a devotional work with 31 daily entries that use three beautiful prayers written by Austen herself. Dodge structures each entry with a portion of the prayer, a brief discussion from Austen’s biography, letters, or works, and an invitation to pray, including a short prayer.
“Reading Jane’s prayers,” she writes in the introduction, “is a bit like looking into her heart. In them, we get to know another side of Jane’s personality—a more serious and reverent side. They reveal a genuine, practical faith in Jesus Christ.”
Dodge is an author, speaker, workshop leader, college lecturer, and a writer for the Jane Austen World blog. In addition to Praying with Jane, featured during the month of October at Literary Life, she’s currently working on a devotional based on Anne of Green Gables.
You can likely read Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility and enjoy the works without knowing the details of the author’s life, including her religious faith. But to read a short, simple work like Praying with Jane is to have one’s eyes opened about underpinned the works and life of one of English literature’s most beloved authors.