A Scholar's Devotion

A Scholar’s Devotion with Matthew Emerson

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, though not a “scholar,” I have asked Dr. Matthew Emerson if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord?

Like most Christians, I tried an Ecclesiastes-esque “everything under the sun” approach to spiritual disciplines in my early walk with Jesus. I read through particular books, tried devotionals from various authors, and the like. My problem came whenever I had to choose another biblical book or devotional; I inevitably stalled in trying to decide what to do. At the end of my doctoral work I started using the Daily Office at the advice of a friend. This has taken the sort of “devotional roulette” obstacle out of the way and provided me with a lot of structure, which I need in this area of my life. I supplement that with a prayer schedule, in which I pray for different things on different days of the week.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ?

I’ve learned recently that, maybe because I work with my head so much as an academic, I can’t rely on my head to deepen my devotion to and love for Jesus. What helps me in this regard is music, so I’ve created a playlist on Spotify that I can return to often.


Matthew Emerson is assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry. He has written Christ and the New Creation, Between the Cross and the Throne (my review here), The Story of Scripture, and his forthcoming “He Descended to the Dead.”

Thank you, Dr. Emerson!

Other Scholars’ Devotions

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