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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. Craig Keener if he would share his thoughts with us.
1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord?
I spend about an hour a day in personal prayer, which can include worship, praying some psalms, and praying for people and countries where there are needs I know. For many years I was reading the Hebrew Bible devotionally just before bed, since most of my day is spent in the New Testament; the Hebrew helped tire my mind and the message of the text (usually) encouraged me. I have not been doing that regularly in recent months, though.
Additionally, during the work day, I am encountering Scripture afresh also when I teach and usually when I study and write—though more when I am working directly on NT texts and not so much when I am indexing a book, etc.
I often listen to the Bible on CD when I exercise. Also, every day there are times during the day when I am waiting on something (walking to work or morning stretching) when I will rehearse various chapters of the Bible, often summarizing chapters in Genesis, or through the New Testament.
2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?
Obedience, worship, a commitment to an attitude of devotion, reverence, and gratitude. It’s easy when He’s been so gracious to me, and He lives inside me and enables such devotion.
Craig Keener is the F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has authored 24 books. These range from from commentaries on Matthew, John (two volumes), Acts (4 volumes), Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Revelation, the background of the NT, to books on miracles, the Gospels’ reliability, and a lot more.