Updated: Oct 22, 2022
January 10, 2022
Standing at the brink of a new year is like holding something old in one hand and grasping something new in the other, like hugging an old friend goodbye and then greeting a new friend for the first time. The start of a new year prompts a pause to reflect on the previous year and yet look ahead to what could be different this next year. I smile at the thought of New Year’s resolutions, but generally those do not last long in my life. In order for something to “stick around” in my life, I need more than determination alone; I need a simple and sustainable new habit.
One such habit that God has been reminding me of is scripture memory. This momma’s heart yearns for her children to know the Bible and live it. God showed me recently that if I am passionate about my children knowing God’s Word, I need to be passionate about getting His Word into my heart as well. Reading God’s Word is so special to me and is a favorite, established habit in my life, yet scripture memory has always been a struggle for me. I needed a way for scripture memory to become a habit in my life.
Some habits are neat for a time, but eventually their value becomes minimal to us, and we quit. For example, I recently chucked my sourdough starter into our woods because it had lost its value to me (please do not have a heart attack if you are a sourdough lover. If you lived near me, I would have given it to you!). I am the only one in my family who liked sourdough, so I decided this “habit” of caring for sourdough was no longer worthy of my time and attention (not to mention the valuable fridge space).
Memorizing God’s Word is definitely worthy of our time and attention. What value would you attach to the Word of God? Many Christians of old died for the scriptures and sacrificed all they had just to have a copy of God’s Word. My husband and I visited the Waldensian Trail of Faith a few years ago, and we marveled at the Waldensian’s love for God and His Word. These persecuted believers taught their children the scriptures daily, and the children memorized lengthy portions of scripture in case their Bibles were taken away from them.
Recognizing the need to memorize scripture is the easy part, and most Christians would heartily agree that we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts. Actually memorizing God’s Word is the hard part, and many people are stumped how to go about memorizing scripture. Many simply give up.
Perhaps taking an aerial view as to why we should memorize God’s Word will give us thought of how to go about this important habit. Hiding God’s Word in the heart is the foundation for living a life pleasing to the Lord. God wants Christians to hide His Word in our hearts that we “might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119: 9). In order to obey God we must know His commands, and memorizing His Word keeps His commands at the forefront of our lives.
Memorizing God’s Word allows the Lord to remind me of His Word at any moment and prompts me to think and meditate on it. To meditate means to chew on something, like a cow chewing its cud (not the most pleasant picture but an effective illustration). Meditation allows God’s Word to seep into my heart and life and permeate my thinking as tea permeates a cup of hot water (a more pleasant illustration). I needed a way to slow down and focus on the very words of God to get them into my mind and heart.
Recently, the Lord impressed upon me a simple system for scripture memory that works for me. All I do is pick two verses to focus on for seven days, and I write them out each day in a little journal. At the risk of being too simplistic, this means for seven days I write out the two verses that I am working to memorize. The reason why I chose seven days and not a week is that some days I do not get to read my Bible in the morning, but I want to make sure that I focus on those verses for a solid week’s worth of time.
The physical action of writing out God’s Word slows me down and helps me to focus on His Word. In our fast-paced, digital world, almost all text we interact with is typed, and writing out God’s Word forces my mind to think about each word. Writing out scripture also gives me an opportunity to maintain handwriting, especially since much of my work is on the computer.
The perfectionism in me also struggled with what verses to memorize. If I could not think of the perfect passage to memorize at one particular moment, I would not memorize at all. Though there are much more systematic ways to memorize scripture than what I am about to share, the following solution is what has been working for me. At the top of a page in my bible memory book, I write down references to verses that have caught my heart and attention. Maybe I came across some verses that spoke to me in my Bible reading, or during a sermon at church, or in a book, or during ladies’ Bible study. Once I am finished with my current set of verses, I look through my references and pick two more verses to work on.
A few tips to remember as you work on scripture memory
· Focus on the scripture as you write it out. Don’t daydream or think of other tasks that need to be done.
· Think of each word as you write it which aids in meditation.
· If you do not know a word, look it up! I love to use Webster’s 1828 dictionary for biblically-oriented definitions.
· If you are struggling with an area in your life, find verses about that topic and memorize the verses to help you gain victory in that area.
· If you are musically inclined, write tunes to go with scripture. The tunes do not have to be perfect, just something to help you remember God’s Word.
A few scripture ideas to get you started are:
In the midst of a hurried life, I hope you will slow down with me, grab a pen, and focus on God’s Word. May God’s Word seep into your mind, comfort your heart, and change your life.