Monday, January 28, 2008

America Must Pray: Helen Jackson

Helen Jackson was a neighbor of the agnostic Emily Dickinson. Helen, along with other women in the post-Civil War era. was a champion of ensuring that children were properly taught to turn to God in prayer. By the end of the nineteen century that cry became louder and louder. Mrs. Jackson pushed forward this idea.
Jackson wrote during this period one of the most heartrending prayers of that day. The prayer, entitled "A Last Prayer," penned at the end of her life, expressed and bemoaned the fact that during her lifetime she should have done more for the Lord than she did. The prayer, published far and wide, was based somewhat on the Beatitudes.

Father, I scarcely dare to pray,
So clear I see, now it is done,
How I have wasted half my day,
And left my work but just begun.
So clear I see that things I thought
Were right or harmless, were instead a sin
So clear I see that I have sought,
Unconscious, selfish aims to win;
So clear I see that I have hurt
The souls I might have helped to save,
That I have slothful been, inert,
Deaf to the cries the wandering lost gave.

This prayer was often read from pulpits across America. Later while living in Colorado Springs she wrote a book entitled Ramona. The book pointed out the spiritually lost condition of American Indians.