This past January, a group of Salvos and friends decided to challenge themselves to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. That 90 days came to an end this past week! It was quite the journey, with many of us falling behind, catching up, or readjusting our 90 day goal. We’ve reminded ourselves all along in our Facebook group that the aim wasn’t just to read the Bible in 3 months and pat ourselves on the back, but to let the Word of God sink deep into our hearts by developing a disciplined approach to Bible study and meditation.
Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kirkegaard, expressed perfectly the best approach to reading the Bible when he said, “To read the Bible as God’s word, one must read it with his heart in his mouth, on tip-toe, with eager expectancy, in conversation with God. To read the Bible thoughtlessly or carelessly or academically or professionally is not to read the Bible as God’s Word. As one reads it as a love letter is read, then one reads it as the Word of God.” A key part of letting God’s love letter become imprinted on our hearts is memorization. In our society, memorizing anything can seem difficult and perhaps overwhelming, but there are few things as helpful in the pursuit of being changed by God’s presence in his word! So pick a Scripture that God is using to speak to your heart and try out these suggested tips.
Repetition is the key to memorization for most, but not all, people. Reading a given passage over and over again is almost always the best way to commit it to memory. I guarantee you that for 80% of people, spending just 5-10 minutes a day (depending on the length of your selection) reading through a chosen passage a handful of times will enable pretty solid recall within a week.
Try sticking your Scripture to the bathroom mirror and read it a few times as you brush your teeth each morning and evening. Put it on the inside of your front door, or next to where you keep your car keys, or even taped to the TV remote, and just remind yourself to read it or review it before moving on with your day. Set it as your screensaver or lock screen on your computer, or set a daily reminder on your cellphone! There are even free apps you can get for your smart phone that will help you memorize through flash cards and fill in the blank exercises.
Get creative and experiment to find something what is helpful to you.
For some of us, repetition isn’t quite enough. So try building a memory palace! This is a very ancient practice of arranging evocative, simple images tied to a specific location in your mind in order to aid memory recall. This practice has been used for thousands of years to memorize information, and is even used today by competitors to memorize “1,000 digits in under an hour, the precise order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in the same amount of time, and one shuffled deck in less than two minutes.” If you’re confused, check out this entertaining Ted Talk and it should hopefully make sense, then try putting it to practice with your Scripture memorization.
An old African proverb says, “Alone we go fast. Together we go far.” If you really want to go the distance and make Scripture study and memorization a deep part of who you are, take the plunge with some friends or family. The accountability and encouragement you receive from working in a group is an unbeatable help. The additional plus to working with others is that the intentional connection it requires will only deepen the sense of spiritual community. Looking for something to build connection in your small group? Want to try something new to focus your marriage or family’s spiritual direction? Try memorizing Scripture together!
Jesus taught that those who follow his way are light in dark places and salt preserving a decaying world (Matthew 5). Working to season your heart and mind with the powerful presence of God in his living word will go a long way toward increasing your effectiveness in evangelism and witnessing. Overcoming the fear of talking to a stranger (or even a friend) about the gospel is the first step, knowing how to clearly articulate the good news of Jesus Christ is the important next step!
If you’re not actively, intentionally working to share the gospel with others, you ought not call yourself a Salvationist (it’s in our name after all). Writing the word of God on your heart will change your outlook and focus, leading your to a greater sensitivity to the Spirit’s work in your life. Proclaiming the truth of God’s word and seeing its amazing power bring freedom to those around you will lead you to a greater desire to study and memorize the Scripture. The word of God is a powerful, two edge sword (Hebrews 4:12)!
- Do you find memorization to be a challenge? Do you think it’s a worthwhile effort?
- Have you ever tried memorizing Scripture in your devotional life? What was your experience like?
- How has having a Bible in your pocket (phone) effected the way you approach Scripture memorization?