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John Jay’s Prayer

[The original date of this prayer is unknown. It was found among John Jay’s papers after his death, written in his own hand. The content seems to indicate that it was not written in his old age, so probably sometime before 1800, but that is by no means certain. -THC]

Most merciful Father! who desirest not the death of a sinner, but will have all men
to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, give me grace so to draw nigh
unto thee as that thou wilt condescend to draw nigh unto me; and enable me to offer
unto thee, through thy beloved Son, supplications and thanksgiving acceptably.

I thank thee for my creation, and for causing me to be born in a time and land
blessed with the light of thy holy gospel. I thank thee for the excellent parents
thou didst give me, and for prolonging their lives and affections for me to a good
old age. I thank thee for the education, good examples and counsels wherewith thou
hast favoured me; and for competent provision thou hast always made for me as to the
things of this world. I thank thee for preserving me through the dangers, troubles,
and sicknesses I have experienced–for thy long-continued patience with me, and for
the manifold blessings, spiritual and temporal, which thou hast vouchsafed unto me.
I thank thee for their doing and promising to do well–and for the comforts which
through them I receive from thy goodness.

Above all, I thank thee for thy mercy to our fallen race, as declared in thy holy
gospel by thy beloved Son, “who gave himself a ransom for all.” I thank thee for the
gift of the Holy Spirit, and for thy goodness in encouraging us all to ask it. I
thank thee for the hope of remission of sins, of regeneration, ad of life and
happiness everlasting, through the merits and intercession of our Saviour. I thank
thee for having admitted me into the covenant of this grace and mercy by baptism;
for reminding me of its duties and privileges, and for the influences of thy Holy
Spirit with which thou hast favoured me.

Enable me, merciful Father! to understand thy holy gospel aright, and to distinguish
the doctrines thereof from erroneous expositions of them; and bless me with that
fear of offending thee. which is the beginning of wisdom. Let thy Holy Spirit purify
and unite me to my Saviour forever, and enable me to cleave unto him as unto my very
life, as indeed he is. Perfect and confirm my faith, my trust, and hope of salvation
in him and in him only. Wean me from undue and unseasonable attachments and
attentions to the things of this transitory world, and raise my thoughts, desires,
and affections continually unto thee, and to the blessings of the better and eternal
world which is to succeed this.

Protect me from becoming a prey to temptations to evil, cause the new and spiritual
life which of thy goodness thou hast begun in me, to increase daily in growth and
strength, by that spiritual bread which cometh down from heaven, even thy holy and
beloved Son, who of thee is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption: by whose precious blood atonement hath been made for
the sins of the world, and especially of penitent believers. Establish my faith in
that great atonement, and my gratitude for it. And I thank thee for giving me grace
and opportunities to partake in thy holy communion, instituted in remembrance of our
Saviour, and of that great atonement. Prepare me to partake thereof again, more
worthily and more to the edification of my soul.

Be pleased to impress my heart and mind with a deep and permanent sense and
recollection of the manifold and unmerited blessings and mercies, spiritual and
temporal, which throughout my life thou hast conferred upon me. Give me grace to
love and obey and be thankful unto thee, with all my heart, with all my soul, with
all my mind, and with all my strength; and to worship and to serve thee in humility,
in spirit, and in truth. Give me grace also to love my neighbour as myself, and
wisely and diligently to do the duties incumbent upon me according to thy holy will,
and because it is thy holy will, and not from worldly considerations.

By pleased also to impress my heart and mind with a deep and unceasing sense and
recollection of the evil of sin, and of my disobedience and ingratitude to thee, my
gracious and merciful Father, my constant and bountiful benefactor. Give me grace, I
humbly and earnestly beseech thee, to repent of my sins with such repentance as thy
gospel requires; and to loathe, and forsake, and detest all sin for ever. For the
sake of our merciful and compassionate High-priest and Intercessor, who directed
repentance and remission of sins to be preached to all sinners, be pleased to bless
me with the remission of my sins, and to let the light and the consolations of thy
pardoning and reconciled countenance, be and remain upon me. Let thy Holy Spirit
lead and keep me in the way in which I should walk, and enable me to commit myself
entirely to thy kind and gracious providence and protection as to all my spiritual
and temporal concerns; so that my words and actions, being constantly under thy
guidance, may be conformable to thy holy will.

Be pleased to bless me and my family, my friends and enemies, and all for whim I
ought to pray, in the manner and measure which thou, and thou only, knowest to be
best for us. Create in us all clean, and contrite, and thankful hearts, and renew
within us a right spirit.

I thank thee, the great Sovereign of the universe, for thy long-continued goodness
to these countries, notwithstanding our ingratitude and disobedience to thee, our
merciful deliverer and benefactor. Give us grace to turn unto thee with true
repentance, and implore thy forgiveness. And be pleased to forgive us; and bless us
with such portions of prosperity as thou seest to be fit for us, and with rulers who
fear thee, and walk in the paths which our Saviour hath set before us. Be pleased to
bless all nations with the knowledge of thy gospel,–and may thy holy will be done
on earth as it is done in heaven.

Condescend, merciful Father! to grant as far as proper these imperfect petitions, to
accept these inadequate thanksgivings, and to pardon whatever of sin hath mingled in
them, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour; unto whom, with
thee, and the blessed Spirit, ever one God be rendered all honour and glory, now and
for ever.

My gracious Saviour! continue, I beseech thee, to look down with compassion and
mercy upon me, and to intercede for me.

Be pleased to deliver me entirely from the bondage of sin, and to heal the maladies
of my soul. Bless it with that health, and rest, and peace which thou, and thou only
canst give. Bless it with wisdom and righteousness, with sanctification and
redemption, that I may be and remain a new creature.

Without thee we can do nothing; condescend to abide in me, and enable me to abide in
thee, as the branch in the vine. Let thy Holy Spirit purify, and cause it to produce
fruit meet for repentance and amendment of life.

Impress my heart and mind with a constant sense and recollection of the evil of sin,
and of the degeneracy and miseries to which it has subjected our fallen race. Make
and keep me convinced and mindful of thine infinite and unmerited goodness, in what
thou hast done and suffered, and art doing to save us from our sins, and from the
punishment and perdition they deserve; and even to fit and prepare us for
everlasting life and happiness.

Give me grace to meditate with faith and gratitude on thy kind redeeming love all
the days of my life. When thou shalt call me hence, be with me in the hour of death,
and bless me with a full assurance of faith and hope, that I may “fear no evil.”

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