Seminary Studies and Devotional Time

Devotional PrayerLots of Christians have a “devotional time” or something like that… a time that is set aside daily to study God’s word, pray, and worship. Me, I try to do it first thing in the morning. Starting my day focusing on God and his word helps me to get going in the right direction from the get-go.

While at orientation the other day, one of the speakers said something that was really interesting. He said that he recommended that you use your studies as the content of your devotions. I’ve thought about that for a couple days and recently began to apply it. I really think it is a great idea.

The greatest benefit of using your class studies as the content of your devotions is that it helps bridge the gap between “class” and “real life.” As seminary student we have the very real threat of taking our class work and separating it from our worship and devotion of God. Integrating your studies into your devotional time helps take down this mental dividing wall. Now, learning and worshiping are no longer at odds (a trap we must avoid at all costs).

Now, by way of clarification, I do mean that the bulk of your devotions should be focused on scripture… So, I don’t mean to imply that you should read your textbooks during this time. However, in your classes you, no doubt, have various portions of scripture to read in a given week (and likely some commentaries on those scriptures). THIS is the content I am suggesting you integrate into your devotions.

Now, don’t take this to be a hard and fast rule… sure, there are certainly times when you are lead or desire to study other parts of Scripture in your devotional time. Go for it. However, I think the point is that you don’t have to separate your studies and devotions. You aren’t more spiritual if your devotions are “on top of all your other studies” and you aren’t “lazy” if you use your devotions to read class assigned scripture readings.

Like I said, I’ve been doing it this week focusing on Hebrews (I’m taking a class on Hebrews this semester). So, in the mornings I read a portion of the text, pray through it, and then read some commentaries. It has been refreshing as I feel that I am both learning the content for class and truly worship as I do it.

Anyone else got some thoughts on this?

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Ryan Burns
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  • One of my professors here at Asbury has built in the syllabus an hour of prayer and scripture reading for every class hour (so he asks you to do 3 hours a week), and he takes it pretty seriously.

    After 2 years of Seminary, one of the things that I have found to be helpful is to be very prayerful in all of my coursework. I think it is the only reason that it turns out very well sometimes. But I also make sure to have devotion time that is completely separate from scholastic work. I try to not even exegete in my mind as I am reading. I think one of the dangerous things about seminary is knowing alot about Jesus, but failing to actually know Jesus.

    But I agree that we have to treat our studies as a spiritual thing, it always amazes me when I read biblical scholars who are atheists (like Bart Ehrman).

    Great thoughts just a guy.

  • Amen. If we seminary students are not using all things to develop our love for God and our character, then something is wrong and must be remedied. Seminary should serve our relationship with the Triune God, not detract. Simple, but not easy. As much I love my theology and Bible courses, the most helpful ones have been Spiritual Formation and relational skills. These especially help me to see my constant need for Christ and the Gospel.

    Perhaps an overarching goal for seminary: That we learn to know God more than we know anything or anyone else, and that we love and enjoy Him more than we love and enjoy anything or anyone else in all the world.

Written by Ryan Burns