It seems to me that there are spiritual disciplines of the faith that are more easily developed than others. For example, the disciplines of regularly attending corporate worship, serving one’s local church, and bible intake, etc, all seem to develop more easily than fasting, laboring in prayer, meditating on Scripture, truly sacrificial financial giving to the Kingdom, etc. Many believers go months, years, or even their entire lives without reaching any form of a developed state in these latter disciplines.
Yet, these latter disciplines are crucial to deeper personal intimacy with the Lord; vital to experiencing more and more of the fullness of God in one’s life. For more on spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith, I’d highly recommend Donald Whitney’s, “Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life.”
But, I’d like to take a moment to talk specifically about the discipline of Scripture memorization. This is one of the spiritual disciplines that does not come easily to me. I’ve found that it requires focus, self discipline, dedication, and hard work. But, the payoff is unreal; I’ve found it one of the most rewarding of disciplines. Here are some of them:
Scripture memorization builds regular time in the Word into your routine. There are no shortcuts to memorizing Scripture. At some point you have to get away from other people, turn off all noises, stop everything else around you, and focus on a passage of Scripture closely enough that you can memorize it. Therefore, regular Scripture memorization would mean regular alone time and intentional focus on the Word of God.
Scripture memorization builds essential substance into your relationship with the Lord. Do you struggle with an emotional, hype driven relationship with Christ; often finding you need something to “move you” emotionally for you to feel close to the Lord? Believers like this find themselves on a never ending quest to be “moved” by another concert, touching back-story, camp, conference, song, or personal testimony. Without the next “hit” or “fix,” your commitment begins to wane and you find yourself struggling with consistency in Christ. Scripture memorization is for you because your relationship with Christ is lacking substance. The substance of the Christian faith is Scripture. You need to feast on the Word of God and Scripture memorization is the ideal way to fill yourself with living substance.
Scripture memorization builds wisdom. Do you find that you lack wisdom? The Word of God is given to us “to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth” (Proverbs 1:2-4.) To memorize Scripture is to put the wisdom of God in your mind and heart.
Scripture memorization paves the way for true meditation on God’s Word. To think over time on a verse or passage of Scripture, to turn it over and over in your mind, to ask the Holy Spirit what it means, to consider its application to your life, to see things in a verse or passage you won’t see during a normal read through, this is where the discipline of Scripture meditation comes in. But a verse of Scripture marinating in your mind takes place over time, not in a passing moment. You need to have it with you at all times, written on your mind so that you are dwelling on it driving down the road, sipping a cup of coffee, waiting in line at the grocery store, or falling asleep at night.
Scripture memorization provides fuel for the winter. When difficult times of life arise, they typically do so with little warning. The natural response is fear, worry, and even to be overwhelmed. In those moments, we need our emotion and the logic of man to be crushed by Truth and trust in the Lord. Scripture memorization imbeds God’s Word in you so that as difficult circumstances arise, the Holy Spirit can quickly raise those Truths to the surface of your mind to crush doubt and unbelief, and to shore up your hope and trust in the Lord. And though to the young in the faith it may seem a silly question, what are you doing to prepare to sit in prison for the faith one day should extreme persecution come your way? You won’t have a copy of God’s Word in the jail cell or cave with you. You will only have what you have memorized. Scripture memory is disaster relief preparation.
Scripture memorization produces holiness: Ephesians 5:26-27: “having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” In John 17:17-19, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” There is a direct correlation between the Word of God getting in you and the vestiges of your old self being driven out of you.
And finally, to those who voluntarily or involuntarily are involved in long hours of monotonous activity, you are positioned for Scripture memorization. As a marathon runner, I spend lots of hours every week running. It is perfect for Scripture memorization. If you are an endurance athlete, long haul driver, airline pilot, or assembly line worker, you have the time to do this.
What to do from here?
If you are just starting out in this discipline, I would recommend you start memorizing one longer passage of Scripture in increments rather than lots of different random verses. I often recommend people start by memorizing Romans 6, both for its content and that it is only twenty-three verses long. If you memorize only two verses per week, you will learn it in eleven weeks; four verses per week would be just six weeks. You won’t believe the confidence you will feel when you have an entire chapter of the bible memorized!
If you’ve had some practice at this, let me challenge you to set your sights on an entire book of the bible. Trust me, you can do this, it’s not that crazy. Pick a short book. My first one was Philippians–it is only four chapters and has an easily logical flow to follow. Here is an outstanding training guide for long passage memorization; if you follow this guide, you can memorize an entire book.
Tags: spiritual discipline