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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 Brandon Smith if he would share his thoughts with us.
1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord?
I typically read Scripture in the mornings with a notetaking Bible. If I happen to get up late and hurry off to an appointment, I’ll listen to an audio Bible in the car. I try to pray intermittently throughout the day, but I most often start the day with a series of prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. As a general discipline, my goal is to engage the triune God in Word and prayer every day at least once per day. Frankly, though, I do this imperfectly.
I also believe that devotional time includes gathering with my local church family to hear, pray, and sing God’s Word and observe the sacraments together. While personal one-on-one time is good and right, I need to be reminded that I won’t grow in any meaningful way apart from the body of Christ.
2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?
Beyond my answer above, consistent community is where I am most formed. We have people in our home multiple times per week, lead a community group in our home weekly, and I have an elder’s meeting monthly. These are times where I can regularly confess my sin, be challenged and held accountable for it, and pray for repentance for myself and others.
Brandon D. Smith is a Ph.D. candidate at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He is Managing Editor for the Christian Standard Bible and has authored a few books, including Rooted and They Spoke of Me. He also serves as one of the pastors at City Church in Murfreesboro, TN, co-hosts the Word Matters podcast, and teaches Bible and theology courses at California Baptist University, and blogs here.