Church of the Covenant is using “Draw Near” for Lenten Devotionals—2015
Presbyterians Today’s Lenten Devotional for 2015 invites you to journey with Jesus to his cross and resurrection with the help of the book of Psalms, often called the prayer book of the Bible. Along this journey, you’ll sample a variety of spiritual practices and seek prayerful ways to draw nearer to God.
Draw Near features a Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and set of reflection questions for each day of the Lenten season. The church has made these beautifully-illustrated devotionals available for you to make it easy to grab a moment for quiet meditation.
Lynne M. Baab is the author of this year’s devotional booklet. She has written numerous books about Christian spiritual practices. She is a PC(USA) minister who now lives in New Zealand, where she is a lecturer in pastoral theology. Her husband, Dave Baab, created the rich pen and ink drawings.
Comments from Lynne (from her website http://www.lynnebaab.com )
I had a great time working on this devotional. I wanted to help readers journey with Jesus to the cross by reflecting on the Psalms, and even praying them like Jesus did. First, I looked up all the psalms that Jesus quoted. Then I looked up the psalms quoted by the writers of the Gospels. It was fascinating to explore those psalms and consider how they might help us draw near to God as we journey through Lent. I also picked psalms that have helped me draw near to God.
I ended up grouping the psalms by theme for the weeks of Lent:
- Drawing near by acknowledging our need for God
- Drawing near in thankfulness
- Drawing near because the whole earth belongs to God
- Drawing near by being honest before God
- Drawing near by dwelling in God
- Drawing near by walking with Jesus to the cross
Here’s the introduction to the devotional:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:15–16
Throughout history, Christians have made special efforts to draw near to God during Lent. Some have fasted. Some have prayed. Some have set aside time to read the Bible. Others have gardened, taken daily walks, written letters to God, kept a journal, or sought out opportunities for service.
This Lent, I invite you to make this devotional your way of drawing near to God. To do that, we will journey through the book of Psalms, which has long been viewed as the prayer book of the Bible. The prayers in the psalms are rich and passionate, representing many different kinds of prayer and a variety of ways to approach God. The diverse moods of the psalms include sorrow, anger, confusion, thankfulness, and joy. The psalms have been an important part of my own faith journey, and now I hope they will help you also to bring your whole self to God.
I’ve chosen one psalm for each day, grouped thematically by week, and I encourage you to read the whole psalm. As you read, try to pray the words. One helpful way to pray the psalms is to read the psalm first to get a sense of the content and then read it a second time slowly, praying the words. Reading and praying psalms out loud can be helpful because it slows us down. Then use the questions that follow each day’s meditation to reflect on the psalm’s meaning for your life.
Among the psalms you’ll be praying are the handful of psalms either quoted by Jesus or referenced by the Gospel writers. These psalms will help us journey with Jesus to the cross and resurrection. Jesus our high priest was tempted during his last weeks on earth to turn away from the path laid before him. He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Because of who Jesus was and is, and because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can draw near to God with confidence. Mercy and grace are waiting for us there.