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Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”
Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences.
This week, I have asked Dr. James Edwards if he would share his thoughts with us.
1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord?
When I was in seminary I developed a devotional commitment that I have maintained throughout my life first as a pastor and then as a professor. I begin each day by reading twenty-five verses of the Greek New Testament (this allows me to read through the entire NT annually, w/o reading on Sundays), and a page of the Hebrew OT in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. I then pray through a prayer list (which I update quarterly), beginning with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, and concluding usually with one of the great hymns of the church.
2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?
When I first began seminary I naively assumed that since I was reading and studying the Bible and theology that I would not need to develop a devotional routine. I soon discovered the error in this assumption, for there is a difference between growing in theological knowledge and growing in faith. I seek to remember that knowledge of Christ does not always equate with love for Christ and life in Christ. Through my daily devotions noted in comment 1, I seek to allow God to mold me into the person he wills me to be. In my academic studies, I seek to learn what God would have me know and teach others.
Dr. James Edwards is the Bruner-Welch Professor of Theology at Whitworth University. He has written commentaries on Mark (PNTC), Luke (PNTC), and Romans (NIBC). He has also written Is Jesus the Only Savior? and a book on the Hebrew Gospel within the Synoptic Tradition.