Recently, we did the Tankwa Camino in the Karoo, a 10 day hike of 256km, which involves a lot of walking over 10 days. Knowing that I would get mentally bored, I decided to print out the book of James (just 5 chapters) and memorise it over the course of 10 days. It was a challenge I read about years ago and decided I would like to see how I did.
How hard can it be? Ten days, five chapters.
Just upfront, let me say I only got half way. Primarily because the hike was grueling on the body and eventually, I just did not have the mental capacity to do anything but focus on walking. What I did manage to memorise was really difficult to do because I found it hard to concentrate. However, like God always does, He made me notice a few things in the process.
Firstly, a lot of the book of James is familiar to me and I felt that it would be easy to learn and then quote it word for word. But then I noticed that in the past I had memorised some of a particular verse, but not all of it. Secondly, there were some cases where, what I had memorised was not actually what the verse said. Then when I looked at what the verse actually said in context, it had a totally different meaning to what I had understood. This made warning bells ring in my mind. It is precisely when we do not know what scripture actually says, that we open ourselves up to false teaching.
In short, I was quite shocked at my performance, as I felt that I had a reasonably good handle on scripture.
I then tried to recall some of my favorite verses and realised that I could not actually quote them 100% with total confidence. It has resulted in me having a new look at how much scripture I am actually memorising.
- Memorising verses ensures that God’s word is always close at hand, and is continually with you as you go through your day.
- There’s power in the act of memorising – in becoming so familiar with the word or phrase, that it springs to mind instantly.
- Furthermore, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit Himself is the one who brings it to recollection in our minds, even if we learnt it long ago!
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26 KJBV)
Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified”
Why memorise scripture?
- It’s fundamental to Spiritual growth and formation of faith
- It’s a discipline to perfect (2 Cor 3:18)
- It grows a love for scripture (Rom 1:17)
- The Lord will reveal himself to you as he did to Samuel (1 Sam 3:21)
- Gives you triumph over sin (Ps 119:9,11; Rom 8:13; Eph 6:1)
- Brings comfort and counsel to others (Prov 25:11)
- Opens opportunities to share the gospel
- It’s communion with God in the enjoyment of His Person and ways (Ps 103:8-14).
David believed that the memorisation of scripture would keep a young person on the straight and narrow:
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9-11)
Scripture memory gives you a firm grasp of the Word.
Solomon encouraged us to write the Word “on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3) and saving Scriptures deep inside of you so that “they may be ready on your lips” (Proverbs 22:18).
I made a decision to start with my favorite verses, just five of them: to make sure that I have memorized them and done so correctly. Then when those were done, I took the next five. Rather five verses memorized well, than twenty memorized shoddily. Every now and then, I do a revision of what I have learnt so far. I keep the cards in my journal, where I find them regularly.
Lord help me to regularly memorise scripture, especially verses that I love and identify with. Help me to hide these truths in my heart so that they readily come to my lips. Help me Spirit to treasure them in my heart, so that they guide my path and lead me into right living. Help me make it a regular discipline. Let me not neglect to let the Word, Your word, dwell in my heart richly.
A Vital Personal Discipline
How to Keep a Spiritual Journal
The Light-Lamp Thingy
Insight: Eyes to See and Ears to Hear