Quick–finish this sentence: “To be or not to be ____ ____ ____ _________.” Or what about this one: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ___ ____ ____ _____ __ ____ _____ ___________.” How about: “Row, row, row your boat, ______ ____ ____ ________.” I bet you can also rattle off phone numbers, answer multiplication questions and recite songs from years ago.
And I will say, “That is a whole bunch of b-o-l-o-g-n-a” (try not to sing the Oscar Mayer song). 99% of us can memorize Scripture if we put our mind to it. Our brain is not a bucket; it does not get so full of information that it can no longer receive new data. Studies have shown that the more you memorize, the more you CAN memorize, because you create new synapses within the brain to handle new information.
Scripture memory, to put it candidly, is a matter of discipline, choice, and perseverance. Our minds will be full of SOMEthing. What is that something going to be for you? Lady Gaga lyrics? Sports stats? Maybe even a tad more concerning, all the names and info involving the latest bachelors or bachelorettes…?
We can choose to memorize the written truth if the desire is there. And our motivation will come when we fully recognize that we ARE what we think about. Bruce Lee (the great theologian?) rightly said, “As you think, so shall you become.” Self-talking the Gospel is more easily accomplished when we actually have plenty of gospel truth fodder at the ready.
Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to think about things that are true, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. How can we meditate on these things if we don’t have them stored away in our mind? I am constantly telling my girls that they will become who they spend time with: “If you walk with the wise you will be wise, but the companion of fools comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:20). But how am I influencing MYSELF? We are constantly talking to ourselves, and I spent way too many years telling myself how I didn’t measure up, or that I would surely fail, or that I was aiming too high. This idea of self-talking truth is so important because it helps me to be a good influence on myself.
This idea of self-talking truth is so important because it helps me to be a good influence on myself.
The Bible says in Psalm 119:11, “ I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Not only had the writer read and heard the Word of God, but he also received it into his heart where it could forever provide the perfect antidote to sin. The Word inspires us toward godliness and motivates us to pursue God’s intentions. Without the Word, we merely have our opinions and experiences. There is no plumb line for truth, no foundation on which to stand upon when the going gets tough. No wisdom to draw from when “life happens” and the bottom falls out. No perspective that comes only from a heart focused on heavenly things.
I don’t know about you, but my natural tendency ain’t toward the truth. My emotions scream anything BUT the gospel when I’m not anchored in the Word. Side note: the older I get the more I truly believe that I need a daily dip in the Word. I wake up with MY will and without taking a few minutes to recalibrate that very selfish will, I will never set down my flesh and pick up my healthy paradigm. Test it for yourself if you haven’t already.
Hebrews says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (4:12). We have ACCESS to the living and active truth inspired by the one and only living God. How insane is it that we are typically more drawn to mindless, soul-numbing, time-wasters!
We have ACCESS to the living and active truth inspired by the one and only living God. How insane is it that we are typically more drawn to mindless, soul-numbing, time-wasters!
I have a friend who had a profound personal experience with this powerful life skill. We challenged one another to memorize the entire book of James over 5 years ago. We both stayed consistent and had nearly all of it down, verbatim. About a year ago, her husband was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She has testified that having James written on the tablet of her heart helped keep her afloat during the most intense and terrifying experience of her life.
This past month, we were challenged to focus on the discipline that we were going to write about, and I found that my memory skills are painfully lacking. Almost every time I tried to focus on my verses, something would happen. Distraction would tap on my shoulder with a demanding passion…in the form of children, a doorbell, a ringtone, my own chaotic mind beckoning me to do something active–the clothes need to be switched! Did you call that person back? You need to finish that painting! Squirrel!
I have had seasons of life when Scripture memory was a consistent discipline and then there are the recent times…when not so much. I am so glad I started in college because I have gotten to benefit from those verses for many years. Recently, as I began the discipline anew, I have realized the sweetness of fresh truth in my heart. The Holy Spirit will bring things to mind when we least expect it–and it is ALWAYS for our good or for the good of others. Always.
If you are new to memorizing Scripture, start small. SHE READS TRUTH has a sweet little program you can purchase, or you can just make memorization cards for yourself. Put them in your car, on your mirror, or in a Ziploc in the shower. Have grace with yourself when memorization doesn’t come easy or when you forget about it for a few weeks. I have found that accountability is one of the best methods for consistency. Do what it takes to make this discipline happen in your life.
Do what it takes to make this discipline happen in your life.
A few verses that you might consider starting with:
Once you gain some traction, consider memorizing an entire chapter (remember to tell yourself, “you got this!”).
A few great chapters you might memorize:
1 Corinthians 13
And if you are ready to go for the gold, consider memorizing an entire book! You will not be sorry you did. I promise. Of course my recommendation is the book of James. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
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Image Credit: Dennis’ Photography, Creative Commons