Several times a year, Dr. Swindoll preaches in chapel at DTS and engages in a question-and-answer time with prospective students. Here are some of the questions he answered recently.
What are some of the ways you prepare your heart for worship?
I never let a passage of Scripture go to waste. By that I mean—lest it sounds wrong—I don’t approach studying the Scriptures as an academic study. Furthermore, it is not merely time spent to prepare for a sermon. It’s also a time to feed my soul.
On some occasions, I do forget I’m working on a sermon. When I realize the passage is speaking to me, I allow God’s Word to take me in a different direction, knowing I need to deal with that truth in my life. Sometimes I’ll walk to Cynthia’s office, and I’ll say, “Listen to this . . . .” And I’ll read it so we can spend some time sharing together.
So because my work requires time in the biblical text every day, I have to fit that which feeds my soul as well, and not just think of it in the category of preparing for a talk. Often, studying for events I speak at (such as DTS chapel, weddings, funerals, and conferences) touches my own life. I allow the Scriptures to work in me, and I’m always grateful for these moments.
How would you encourage others to keep their spiritual walk with Christ vibrant in both seminary and ministry?
Keep asking that question on a regular basis and ask it rhetorically. Is my walk with Christ at a level that I benefit from it? Or is it lagging now? These questions will challenge you when the courses stack up.
I have learned that many things get resolved through quiet times of prayer with God, where he calms me, makes me aware of or shows me something that I’m not handling well, or if I’m running ahead of his plans.
I fit prayer throughout my day. I also have bursts of prayers that accompany the situation. I pray on my way to my office, to the store, and I pray for the time I get to spend sharing at DTS. It proves to be a good use of my time. Sometimes I don’t know how long I pray. Maybe five to six, or eight minutes. And I will do that for other reasons at other times for whatever needs God shows me.
I have to get quiet to listen. I seldom learn anything while I’m talking. And so it’s helpful to just stay still in God’s presence. And it’s amazing what one can learn by having quiet moments with him.