A Scholar's Devotion

A Scholar’s Devotion with Robert Wall

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. Rob Wall if he would share his thoughts with us.

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

Bible study no matter its setting is an act of worship that is used by the Holy Spirit to form a deeper, more textured love for God and for one another. I make no distinction in this regard between my daily devotions and by work as a Bible scholar; it all is “time with the Lord.” Not only does the endgame remain the same but so also does its invocation: Scripture-time begins in prayer in which we lay open to God our needs, our struggles, our sins and weaknesses, and seek God’s graces to grow in our theological understanding as we read Scripture in the company of the Spirit. Perhaps the questions we bring with us to this holy time, however, differ from setting to setting, audience to audience. In personal devotions I focus on personal questions with which I struggle about my own conduct and beliefs as a disciple of the risen One but also questions and worries I carry around with me about my family, my friends, my students, and the world that often presses down upon us. These are the questions apropos when I read the lessons assigned for any given day by the Book of Common Prayer (which I typically follow for morning devotions). The questions I bring to the same text as a Bible scholar and teacher are no less rigorous but they are cast differently for different audiences and applications.

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

The church has always practiced a set of disciplines as auxiliaries of the Spirit in forging our common life with God and one another: prayer, worship, Lord’s Supper, Bible reading, Christian fellowship, mission/service, meditation on theological loci, and so on. These are the same practices I engage to deepen my love for the Lord. I also find that regular writing about spiritual things, whether as a Bible scholar or rank-and-file member of a worshiping community, is important in giving shape and direction to my discipleship. Writing a blog may well be a spiritual discipline! Karl Barth’s great image of holding a newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other seems more important today than ever before. A careful exegesis of this cultural moment may be as important a discipline as our careful exegesis of Scripture, especially as we find ways of engaging the two in a meaningful conversation. Of course, we must presume Christ’s invincible love for a world that keeps annoying and grieving us so, even as we read Scripture as a trustworthy witness of that love. The practice of the one glosses the practice of the other.

The Rev’d. Dr. Robert W. Wall, Th.D., is the Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture & Wesleyan Studies at Seattle Pacific University and Seminary. He has written numerous books and commentaries: Acts, Colossians/Philemon, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, and Revelation. He has written Called to Lead (based on 1 & 2 Timothy), Reading the Epistles of James, Peter, John & Jude as Scripture, A Compact Guide to the Whole Bible, and The Marks of Scripture

Thank you, Dr. Wall!

Other Scholars’ Devotions

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