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HOW TO HAVE A DAILY DEVOTIONAL TIME

A lesson by Dr. C. L. Cagan
given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, April 15, 2018

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1, 2).


King David wrote this verse. He was panting (breathing hard, like a thirsty animal) to experience God. His soul was thirsty for God. He wanted to come before God. He needed God. He wanted time with God.

You can spend time with God every day. That is called your daily devotional time. In that time, you read the Bible and pray. How can you do that?

Try to make a regular time each day to read the Bible and pray. For most people it is helpful to do that at the beginning of the day. It will start you off right and bless you for the rest of the day. I know people have different schedules of school and work, and you can’t always do this in the morning. Some of you can do it on your lunch hour at school or work. If you have time at school between classes or after class, you can go to a quiet place alone for your Bible and prayer time. Don’t read the Bible or pray during a class at school, or during work time! It’s not appropriate and it may get you in trouble. Some of you may have to wait until the evening, at least on some days. But try not to wait until right before you go to bed. You may fall asleep – and even if you don’t, you’ll go through the whole day without a special time alone with God.

This time should take you about 15 minutes, or 20 at the most. If you’ve been coming to our church for a short time, a few weeks or months, and you find this a lot to do, just do the New Testament Bible reading. That will take only a few minutes. Next year you can read both the Old and New Testaments. Then take at least five minutes to pray. When you grow in Christ, you can spend more time praying.

But someone says, “I don’t have time for Bible reading and prayer. I’m too busy.” No, you’re not! Stop spending hours every day on Facebook and other social media. Stop wasting time on the Internet. Stop playing video games. Use the computer only when you need to for school or work. Stop spending hours watching television, looking at basketball games and shows you’ll forget the next day. Then you’ll have plenty of time to read the Bible and pray! You need to read the Bible and pray – and you can do it. I want to tell you how to do this.

I. First, how to read the Bible every day.

You need the Bible. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God “ (Matthew 4:4). The Apostle Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). The Bible will help you to live. It will help you to grow in Christ.

Of course, you can’t read the Bible if you don’t have one. If you don’t have a Bible, go to our bookstore and buy yourself a Bible. The King James Bible is the best and the only reliable translation in English – and that’s what we sell. Be sure to get yourself a Scofield Study Bible. That’s the Bible we use in our church. The page numbers in all the Scofield Bibles are the same. It will be easy for you to find the verses we preach from in church. You won’t have to go looking through the Bible, since we give the page number in the Scofield Bible as well as the book, chapter and verse.

Begin your Bible reading with a short prayer. The Psalmist prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18). Ask God to show you something in His Word that day. Perhaps you will want to pray in the exact words I quoted from the Psalm.

After you have finished, try to think about what you have read. You may also want to do this later in the day. The Psalmist wrote, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). This refers to meditating on the Bible, which means thinking over or “chewing on” something you saw in God’s Word so that it “gets into” you and stays with you. The Bible says, “The entrance [into the heart] of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

What if you get behind? Don’t give up! Don’t get angry with yourself. If you’re not very far behind, take some time to catch up. You’ll feel better when you do. If you fall way behind and it would take a long time to catch up, just rejoin the schedule at the place where it is. Next year you can be more diligent and do all of the readings.

What if you find it hard to read part of the Bible? There may be words or names that you can’t understand, or maybe can’t pronounce. Sometimes you will read a list of names or places, or a genealogy of who was the father of who. Read the passage anyway. If there are words you can’t pronounce or understand, read them anyway and go on. If you find a passage hard to read, read the words anyway. Every part of the Bible is the Word of God, breathed out by God, truth without error, just as much as John 3:16. As you become a more experienced Christian, you will understand it better – and you’ll receive blessings from parts of the Bible that you don’t understand right now.

What if you don’t understand what something means? Don’t give up! Don’t be upset with yourself. Read it even if you don’t understand it. Do not stop to research it in a book or on the Internet. That will interrupt your reading, take a lot of time, and you may still not find the right understanding. You may get frustrated and feel like giving up. Don’t do that. Just read through the passage. As you grow in Christ and spend more time in the church, you will learn more. The next time you read through the Bible, you’ll understand more of it, and understand it better.

II. Second, how to pray every day.

Have a private prayer time every day, right after you read your Bible. You can pray several times a day, but it is best to always have one time where you pray at the same time every day. It is simple to set up – and keep up – a regular prayer time each day. Prayer is not a complicated thing. Do not be afraid to have a time of daily prayer. Even if you have other things going on in your schedule, make time to pray. Set aside a few minutes in your day. You can do it.

Pray to God in the name of Jesus. The Bible says, “Prayer was made...unto God” (Acts 12:5). Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Prayer is directed to God the Father, in the name of Jesus. We are sinners and in ourselves we have no right to approach God. But Jesus, who has no sin, has died and given His Blood that we might come to God through Him. Christ said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13, 14).

Pray in a definite way – ask God for definite and specific things. One of the great books on prayer is Prayer: Asking and Receiving by Dr. John R. Rice. You should buy a copy of this book. Dr. Rice wrote,

Jesus certainly meant that a Christian ought to have definite desires in his mind when he prays and then ought to be able to trust God and get exactly those things from God that he requests. Prayer, in the Bible sense, is getting down to brass tacks and asking God for exactly what you want. Prayer is not only asking, but it is asking something. It is [not real] prayer if it is not definite (John R. Rice, D.D., Prayer: Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord, 1970 reprint of the 1942 classic, p. 147).

Prayer is not impossible. It is not mysterious. Prayer is asking God for things, just like you would ask anyone else. Make a list of things to pray for. Pray for the things you need. Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God promises to give you what you need. Christ said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). The Bible says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Pray for the things on your prayer list until God answers those prayers.

One definite thing you should pray for is the salvation of souls. Dr. Hymers wrote in a sermon called “Definite Praying” (January 13, 2008),

      Put a slip of paper in your Bible with the names of a few people you are praying for to be saved. Put the name and date you started praying for them in one column (numbered one, two, three, etc.). Then in another column, across from their name, leave a blank, so you can fill in the name and date when they got saved. This will result in a growth of your faith in prayer, and it will certainly be used by God to convert those you are systematically and regularly praying for to be saved.
      I hope many of you will start such a prayer list and keep it in your Bible. Then mark down the date across from the columns of names you have been praying for in regard to salvation. Let me know when God answers your definite, continuing prayer for this individual, and the answer comes. Come to me privately and let me know when God answers your persistent, continued prayer for that individual and he or she is finally saved. Do that so we can rejoice and praise God together. I may let you give a public testimony of how you prayed for that person and they got converted.

If you are not converted, pray for the salvation of your own soul. Pray for God to show you your sin, especially your inward sin nature. Pray for God to show you your false hope and your errors. Pray for God to have grace on you and draw you to Christ.

But none of this will help you if you do not use the means of grace that God has given you. Read the sermon manuscripts every day. Watch the sermon videos several times a week. Think carefully about the sermons. Listen to the sermons when they are preached. Come forward every time the invitation is given, and listen carefully to what the counselor tells you. If you come in unprepared, do not expect to be converted even if you sit through the service. Prepare before you come into the service, and then you will come in prepared. I pray that you will do it. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO HAVE A DAILY DEVOTIONAL TIME

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1, 2).

I.   First, how to read the Bible every day, Matthew 4:4;
II Timothy 3:16, 17; Psalm 119:18, 97, 130.

II.  Second, how to pray every day, Acts 12:5; Matthew 6:9;
John 14:13, 14; Matthew 6:11; 7:11; Philippians 4:19.