Part of the answer for this very public pastor is his private time with God.

What does a preacher noted for hisexpository Bible sermons do in his personal devotional life? CHRISTIANITY TODAY interviewed one in his home to find out. He is Charles Swindoll, senior pastor for 11 years of the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California, with a Sunday morning attendance of some 5,000. He is also speaker for the 30-minute, five-day-a-week radio program, “Insight for Living,” and the author of several books, including Improving Your Serve and Strike the Original Match.

Why is your private devotional time important to you?

For four reasons. The first is to help guard against a textbook mentality when I approach the Scriptures. I want to keep my heart warm, and break down the cynicism that easily grows out of a strictly academic kind of Bible study. The devotional time really helps that to happen.

Second, I want to allow time and space for the Lord to speak to me. I’m not referring to skywriting or some audible voice that comes out of the PA system, but times when I sense from the Scriptures, “Oh! that is really what God is saying to me about my life.” It’s a very personalized, please-listen-tome-my-child-I-have-this-to-say-to-you kind of response from God.

Third, I want to gain insight, not only into a passage of Scripture, but also into life itself.

Fourth, I’m sometimes snagged by a relationship that’s broken down, and my tendency is to rush through and ignore that in my time with the Lord. He doesn’t let me. He brings it to my attention and says, “Now listen Chuck, I want you to alter your course. Back up three spaces and come to terms with this.” Or maybe a person has been bugging me about something, or a particular anxiety ...

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