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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. David Firth if he would share his thoughts with us.
1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord?
There are several elements to this. The first each day is that my wife and I spend some time reading Scripture, usually with some short notes on it, before praying about any issues that might arise from that. This is not normally long, but it means that about 10 minutes at the start of each day is given to reading the Bible and praying together.
Beyond that, the shape of each day varies, so there needs to be flexibility in timings. At Trinity we have a chapel service at 8:30 each morning (Anglican Morning Prayer is the most common pattern followed, though not always) and I see this as an important part of reminding myself that prayer and devotion is not something I do in isolation but as part of a community (and on the weekend that becomes my local Baptist church). I also have a daily routine in which I read through the Bible every year (roughly 3 chapters a day), something I’ve been doing for over 30 years now. This is largely to ensure I continually remind myself of the whole Bible. I also spend time studying a passage in Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic every day, and from this I keep a journal of reflections and use this as a basis for prayer. In terms of ensuring I keep a wide focus to my prayers, I also take a prayer diary from a mission society we support and have also created a daily prayer diary to ensure I pray regularly for family, friends and colleagues.
2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?
Apart from regular times in worship, I actually find that the devotional process I describe above deepens my love for Christ. Especially in the study passage, even though these are texts I have read many times, I invariably find new insights which enrich me in my discipleship.
Revd. Dr David G. Firth is Old Testament Tutor and Academic Dean at Trinity College. He has written commentaries on Joshua (BST), 1 & 2 Samuel (AOTC), and Esther (BST), along with Exploring Old Testament Wisdom, Interpreting Deuteronomy, Interpreting the Psalms, Interpreting Isaiah, Interpreting Old Testament Wisdom Literature, and a book on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
Thank you, Dr. Firth!