“Supper’s ready! Let’s say the scripture passage, and then we’ll pray.”
“What? We can’t eat until we say the whole thing?”
“I haven’t learned the next part!”
“I’ll never get it right!”
These comments abound on our Challenge trips because the participants must memorize scripture as part of the experience. As incentive, they must recite the assigned passage before everyone can eat supper. These passages are longer than the random verses students memorize for the moment to gain team points at church camp. Depending on the length of the trip, they may commit to memory entire chapters.
Why? Because throughout scripture, God told us to “remember!” In the Old Testament, God established feasts, and the patriarchs often erected markers—both to help the Israelites remember the things God had done. Jesus told the disciples to remember Him when they ate the bread and drank the cup. God knows we humans are rather fickle and will readily forget things unless we make an effort to plant His word in our hearts.
King David understood this: I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You (Ps. 119:11). As a matter of fact, David gave us several reasons to make God’s Word part of our mental library. Throughout Psalm 119, he pointed out God’s statutes are our counselors (vs. 24), a source of wisdom (vs. 98) and discernment (vs. 125), and our window to His truth (vs.30) and “wonderful things” (vs.18). David testifies in verse 140 that God’s promises have been “thoroughly tested,” and he loves them—so much so that David has assessed his own ways and has chosen to turn his steps to God’s statutes (vs. 59).
Why is it that we annually vow to “read through the Bible” in a year, but don’t hear anyone committing to memorize scripture? Maybe we think such an exercise is for children and Bible college students. Maybe we think we are too old. In our Bible study last week, a woman mentioned that it seems to be more difficult to memorize scripture than it was when she was younger. Should that stop us from trying?
There are so many ways to take in God’s word. Some people readily write out and memorize passages, but a lot of people complain that they just can’t memorize. There are recordings of scripture which can be very helpful as you listen to them repeatedly. Have you ever tried singing scripture? After all, the Israelites sang all the Psalms. So you can’t sing? Try simply speaking scriptures in rhythm—kinda like rap music. For right-brain learners, it is helpful to print the desired scripture in large letters on a poster and pin it high on a wall. Then holding the head steady, they can lift their eyes to review it several times a day. Even better is to super impose the words on pictures to create a rebus or a type of pictogram. The learner can then simply “take a picture” of the passage with his mind, so that when wanting to remember the verse, he can easily take it out of his mental “file” and read it. Finally, find a partner and help each other. In prompting your partner as you hold a cure card, you will learn the scripture, too.
I can’t say I regularly follow my own advice given here, but I do know my days go better when I follow Paul’s admonition to the Philippians: …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Memorizing scripture is the best way I know to comply.
Shall we make a pact to be more intentional about hiding God’s Word in our hearts?
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.