CLOSE TO THE FATHER’S HEART is intended for the special and holy season of Lent and Holy Week. The word “Lent” means “spring”, and comes from the old English word lente, meaning “lengthen”. Lent thus signifies the lengthening of the daylight hours, which means spring has come at last. The dark bitter cold of the winter is past, sap is rising in the trees, new life beginning to bud, and new possibilities for growth are awaiting us.
As far back as the second century, Christians thought about the lengthening days of springtime as a good time for training new disciples of Jesus. At the end of the training they were deemed ready to be baptized into Christ on Easter morning, and to live into their new lives.
By the fourth century these days of spiritual training stretched for 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday before Easter. These were days of spiritual growth through meditation on Scripture, prayer, study, and repentance.
Because these new Christians were to be received into the church family, the 40 days of spiritual training took on added significance for the whole family of faith. All joined in for these 40 days of preparing to live as Easter people. And for any who might have wandered from God, this seemed an especially good time for coming back to Him and beginning again.
In addition to the daily Scripture reflections for Lent and Holy Week, this devotional also presents a spiritual practice each Sunday. You will have opportunity to learn proven spiritual practices that have helped grow the people of God. Like learning most new things, each practice may take some time to pick up. But give yourself the time. Stay with each one and you most definitely will be enriched. And when Lent is complete, why not consider continuing some, if not all, of the spiritual practices.
Our Father. Each of us feels a longing deep within, a hunger, a tugging of our heart to know you better. We yearn to experience the peace and joy that are our birthright as children of God through Jesus. Help us as we want to make space for you in our lives. Take Jesus’ words and speak them fresh to our hearts and minds each day. Draw us close to your heart, and help us to know that you love us as you love your own Son. And we also pray for all our sisters and brothers who will also be making time for you during these days. Draw them close to your heart too. And draw us close together with them that we might be one. Because Jesus has told us to ask in His name, so we are bold to ask you for all these blessings, in His name. We are sure that you hear us, in His name. Amen.