March 3, 2014

Memorizing Scripture, Part 1: The "Why"

A few days ago, I mentioned my challenge to memorize the book of James. This is an ongoing journey that I first began in the summer of 2005. Shortly after making it through the 27 beautiful verses of chapter one, though, I moved off to seminary. The busyness of juggling full-time school and full-time work, followed closely by the immediate need to memorize other things (like church history and theology-related facts for grades) quickly took over. Soon after, I met, courted, and married my husband and then moved out of state. Whew! No wonder I never got any further than chapter one!


But is that really okay? Some would say "yes," but I disagree.

Does my busyness nullify the need to hide God's Word in my heart? May it never be! I did, however, need a swift kick in the fanny to make this challenge a priority and get going on it again. So when the ladies at my church studied Beth Moore's James last year, my interest piqued. But it took an accountability partner of mine and I deciding to tag-team the effort to really get me diligently pursuing the book again. So this begs the question: why do challenge ourselves to memorize?

Contained in the Word itself are the reasons why committing Scripture to memory is so important. For Psalm 119:9 says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word." How do we guard our hearts with the Word? By seeking God's holiness with our whole hearts. Verse 10 follows by stating, "With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!" And how, pray tell, do we avoid wandering? We must know the Word: "I have stored up Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me Your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of Your mouth. In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word." (vv. 11-16).

Psalm 119 tends to be one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture. Probably because it is long...the longest chapter in the whole Bible, in fact. It's almost a book within itself! But I don't love it just because it's long; what I love is that the length gives the author the time and space needed to ruminate on a subject and flesh out deep thoughts and feelings about it. It is also a nerd's delight (pointing at myself, here!) due to the Hebrew alphabet acrostic that is formed with each passing chunk of verses, but here I digress into seminary geekdom! Suffice it to say, the passage above details plenty of reasons we need to value Scripture memory as a worthy aim.
 
I'm sure many of you memorized Bible passages as children, especially if you grew up in church programs like Bible Drill or AWANA. [And I'm fairly certain the handful of verses you can still recall are filled with "thees" and "thous," as they were likely memorized in the King Jim...but that is neither here nor there!] Well, I did not have the experience of growing up in children's ministries; however, I memorized my fair share of Scriptures as a youth and young adult. I have found this spiritual discipline to be one of the most useful in my everyday life, because I can more readily rely on the Word when it's in my own head and heart versus on the written page (and down at the bottom of my purse or backpack somewhere!).


I would be remiss if I did not also mention 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as part of my premise for memorizing the Word of God. For this passage states, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." How much easier would it be for God to use us in the lives of others if we had His Words poised and ready to go at the first flick of our tongues in conversation?

So to recap (from the passages above), we memorize God's Word in order...
1) To keep our ways pure.
2) To guard our hearts.
3) To seek God wholly.
4) To know His ways.
5) To battle sin.
6) To declare of God to others (evangelism).
7) To use for teaching, reproving, correcting, training, and equipping (discipleship).


So now that we have the rationale, what about the methodology? Stay tuned, my friends, for the "how" will come in tomorrow's blog post! [Click here for PART 2 on the "how"!]

2 comments:

  1. Love this! I never memorized scripture as a child, so this is kind of a new world for me. Can't wait to read your "how to" tomorrow! =)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Amber! Welcome to this beautiful new world of memorizing God's Word. Here comes Part 2 on the "how." Please feel free to give me some feedback if you try any of the tips!

    ReplyDelete

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