A Father’s Prayer for His Daughter
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and his wife Sarah Pierpont (1710-1758) had eleven children (three sons and eight daughters). One of their daughters was Mary Edwards (1734-1807) who became the wife of Timothy Dwight Jr. (1726-1777). When Mary was fifteen years old and was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Jonathan Edwards wrote her a letter of comfort and counsel. This letter also contains Edwards’ daily prayer for his daughter:
Northampton, July 26, 1749
You may well think that it is natural for a parent to be concerned for a child at so great a distance, so far out of view, and so far out of the reach of communication; where, if you should be taken with any dangerous sickness that should issue in death, you might probably be in your grave before we could hear of your danger.
But yet my greatest concern is for your soul’s good. Though you are as so great a distance from us, yet God is everywhere. You are much out of the reach of our care, but you are every moment in his hands. We have not the comfort of seeing you, but he sees you. His eye is always upon you. And if you may but be sensibly nigh to him, and have his gracious presence, ’tis no matter though you are far distant from us. I had rather you should remain hundreds of miles distant from us and have God nigh to you by his Spirit, than to have you always with us, and live at a distance from God….
My desire and daily prayer is that you may, if it may consist with the holy will of God, meet with God where you be, and have much of his divine influences on your heart wherever you may be, and that in God’s due time you may be returned to us again in all respects under the smiles of heaven, and especially in prosperous circumstances in your soul; and that you may find all us alive. But that is uncertain; for you know what a dying time it has been with us in this town, about this time of year, in years past. There is not much sickness prevailing among us as yet, but we fear whether mortal sickness is not beginning among us. Yesterday Eliphaz Clap’s remaining only son died of the fever and bloody flux, and is to be buried today. May God fit us all for his will.
I hope you will maintain a strict and constant watch over yourself and against all temptations: that you don’t forget and forsake God; and particularly that you don’t grow slack in secret religion. Retire often from this vain world, and all its bubbles, empty shadows, and vain amusements, and converse with God alone; and seek that divine grace and comfort, the least drop of which is more worth than all the riches, gaiety, pleasures and entertainments of the whole world….
…the whole family has indeed much to put us in mind and make us sensible of our dependence on God’s care and kindness, and of the vanity of all human dependences. And we are very loudly called to seek his face, trust in him, and walk closely with him. Commending you to the care and special favor of an heavenly Father, I am
Your very affectionate father,
Your mother and all the family give their love to you.
 Jonathan Edwards, “Letter to Mary,” in Letters and Personal Writings, ed. George S. Claghorn, vol. 16 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 288-90.