I treasure your word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)
I don’t have an excellent memory or attention span, so I never really thought I could remember large portions of Scripture. I was content with picking up verses here and there as I studied, read, or listened to sermons. And I thought it was pretty cool if the pastor happened to be reading through a passage and I could follow along from memory every few verses or so.
Fast forward a few years later, when our pastor challenged our church to memorize the entire book of 1 Timothy. I found a little guide on extended Scripture memorization, and a group of us decided to take one chapter each and commit it to memory. This gave me confidence that I could do more, so I decided to work slowly toward memorizing a whole book of the Bible. Again, our pastor challenged the congregation to memorize it as he preached through short sections each week.
I decided to memorize one verse each day. I broke the verse down into two or three parts, focused on learning shorter sections, and then put the whole verse together. Once I had a few verses memorized, I worked on understanding what I’d read by following the argument of the author or the storyline presented. That’s when I saw how memorization and meditation work together.
Memorization is the ability to recall what you’ve read verbatim, so I had to practice a lot! I’d listen to a verse on audio while brushing my teeth or taking a shower or folding laundry, while waiting in the carpool line or shopping. I filled my downtime with the Word of God. Eventually, it became a sweet habit, and I found myself rehearsing God’s Word throughout the day.
Meditation is an ongoing conversation between the Holy Spirit and yourself about what you’re learning in God’s Word. In this way, you learn to hide His Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11) and discover meaningful ways to apply it to your life. Through the practice of meditation, I found myself starting to incorporate verses of Scripture into my prayer life. Soon, I found that I had God’s Word ready to encourage a friend. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I would rehearse my verses and fall asleep with God’s Word on my lips.
I have experienced the truth of Deuteronomy 6:6 that says, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” Even in more anxious times—through the whirring of the MRI scanner or when counting down as the anesthesia put me to sleep—God’s Word came to mind, comforting me. God’s Word, memorized over days and weeks and months, had made its way from my eyes and ears and mouth to my heart. And out of the abundance of what was in my heart, my mouth began to continually speak the words of life and truth to myself and to others (Matthew 12:34). Ω
Reflect: Were you ever encouraged to memorize Scripture? What effect did it have? You might like to choose a verse or short passage from Scripture which speaks powerfully to you, and commit it to memory this week.
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.
From Kristie Anyabwile, Meditation & Memorization. The Faith in Practice: A Biblical Study of Spiritual Disciplines. Found at https://shereadstruth.com/meditation-memorization/ #Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.
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