This month Amy Boucher Pye is reading…

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Journalling the Psalms: A guide for reflection and prayer
Paula Gooder (Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978-1529380057)

Lent falls at the beginning of March, and usually I recommend from the latest crop of Lent books. This month, along with a few Lenten-based suggestions, I’m highlighting a resource that isn’t a traditional Lent book; it would, however, provide a wonderful focus for this six-week period in the lead-up to Easter.

Lent is traditionally a time where we prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ rising from death into new life. We might want to set aside some extra time to examine our souls and our actions, and Journalling the Psalms would make a wonderful companion to do so.

To me, Paula Gooder is the best kind of Bible scholar – one who could engage with the most academic of conversations out there but who writes for ordinary people. While delving deeply into the Bible she’s yet also accessible in this wonderful guide to engaging with 15 favourite Psalms.

Ponder, for instance, this line from her introduction: “Every time a Psalm is prayed from the heart, it gains a new author.”

That’s what she’s inviting us to do in this hands-on book. There’s plenty of space for us to write, doodle, draw and consider these ancient words as we make them our own before God. The Psalms can sometimes be the only prayers we have the energy to utter – when my husband was signed off from work with depression, this was true for him.

Paula leads us through these 15 Psalms in an engaging pattern, including us looking over the whole Psalm, giving us space to write responses and to doodle, and providing interesting facts about the original language and context.

One that I engaged with was Psalm 42, which is familiar to me, but she helped me to ponder how the refrain in this lament (“Why, my soul, are you downcast…”) educates our emotions and helps us to turn back to God. I appreciate her thoughts on the differing role of water in the Psalm too. I highly recommend this resource for Lent or any time of the year.

May you sense God’s love and cleansing as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

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