John Jay–America’s 1st Chief Justice

John Jay (1745 –1829) American statesman, Patriot, diplomat, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the 2nd Governor of New York, and the FIRST Chief Justice of the United States (1789–1795).

‘This prayer was found in Mr. Jay’s handwriting, among his papers.’


“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 thanksgivings 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 the 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 my children—for Thy kind providence over them—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 Thy 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, and 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 for ever, 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.

Be 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 forever. 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 thoughts and desires, my hopes and fears, and 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 whom 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.”–The Life of John Jay: By His Son, William Jay; Vol. 1; 1839.


 The Congress Bible ◊ The U.S.–A Christian Nation ◊ How Many Christians Are There?