#Write31Days – Post 15 – Memorizing the Scriptures

scripture

My small group for this fall is all about Bible Literacy, we are half way through our book.  I think we all have grasped the importance of not just reading the Bible, but studying it.  We are learning study tools so that we can read with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer.  We have grasped that reading a piece of scripture just once isn’t sufficient, and reading it in context is responsible.

At the beginning of the small group sessions, I asked all of the women to write down WHY they were interested in learning how to study the Bible.  An older woman in the group shared that she was looking for a better way to retain what she was reading.  Age and illness have taken a toll.  Years of Bible Studies, personal reading, etc… and she just couldn’t hold onto to the information.  She was hoping that learning new study skills would help her retain the scriptures she loved.

Confession Time:

I think most of us struggle with memorizing scripture. 

It takes time, effort, and practice.  Most of us find that our time is pretty divided between work, family, volunteering, etc.  We have also lost the need for scripture memorization, particularly in the United States.  In my own home I have access to NINE translations of the Bible in PRINT.  If you include the access I have through the internet, I literally have access to every translation written to date.  It costs me nothing.

Historically, people would memorize scripture because they were relaying the scriptures from memory… there were not written Bibles.  Later, as the scriptures were recorded on scrolls, the scrolls would be passed around from city to city.  It was quite possible that no single city would have the complete collection of the scriptures all at one time.  In other countries, having a printed copy of the scriptures might get you executed.  For these people memorization is their only option.

However, for you and I… it’s a quick click of some keys, or a short walk to our bookshelf.

We don’t NEED to memorize it, because we have instantaneous access to it… any time we want.

For my friend who is aging, this is a relief.

Yet, for those of us who want to memorize scripture (in part, or in whole) it is a daunting task.   Here are a few tips for helping you memorize scripture.

  • Select scriptures that are meaningful to you, at least to start with.  They may be encouraging scriptures that get you through rough times.  Or, pieces of beautiful poetry that remind you of the glory of God.  They may be promises or scriptures of wisdom.  Having a connection to the scripture will give you the motivation needed to memorize.
  • Write out the scripture several times by hand, for some learning styles this is an active way to cement the scriptures to memory.  For others they may need to repeat the scripture out loud, many times like a drill, in order to recall it from memory.  Or, come up with a mnemonic device to assist with memory recall…. such as hand gestures, putting it to a tune or rhythm.
  • Write the scripture down on a card, and display it in an area you frequent often.    Such places may be your bathroom mirror, on your front door, the dashboard of your car, or in your planner.   Keep it there until you have memorized the scripture, then replace with a new one.
  • Try memorizing the scripture from a translation that is easier to recall.  A King James version can be difficult with the old english phrasing.  The NIV or ESV may be a lot easier because the language is more familiar.

Also make sure that you review scriptures you have already memorized often, to ensure you retained it accurately.  Otherwise you may find yourself leaving out words of blending scriptures together that are unrelated.

OLD HABITS ARE WAY TOO EASY

MBA

Last night we were having our monthly women’s ministry meeting.   One of the team members hosts the meetings in her home, and she had recently moved.  I knew that she was still in the same neighborhood, just a different house.  I opened the reminder email, to grab her new address and headed out.  I have to admit, I thought it was odd that the street name was the same.  But, having driven to that house so many times, I had long forgotten the exact house number.  Perhaps, she had just moved down the actual street.  It happens.

As I turned down the street, and started driving… the thought occurred to me:  “I am going to her old address”.  But I kept driving.  It wasn’t until I was parked, right in front of the old house, that I finally grabbed my phone & called another team member.  Sure enough, the wrong address had been sent in the email.  I hadn’t noticed the email correcting the address.

I knew, as I drove down that road that I was going to the wrong address.  It was a street and house I knew well, and it wasn’t until I was there in the driveway that I fully acknowledged that I was in wrong place.

Isn’t that exactly what old habits are like?  Even if it has been months or years since our last drink, temper tantrum…. or since we allowed ourselves to slack in our studies or prayer time.  It is so easy to just travel down that road, knowing we are going the wrong way, ending up in that same driveway, and only then questioning ourselves.

Why didn’t I stop?

Why didn’t I turn around?

Why didn’t I call for help?

Even with all the resources we have available to us, to make our lives easier…  all of the people we can call on for help… all the access we have to information…  We still go down that road well traveled.   It is familiar and comfortable.

It is sometimes easier to go down the wrong road because we recognize it, and we know it.  We know the bends and turns, the speed bumps and the stop signs.  We hope that we will end up at a different place, as if we can continue taking the same path and find a new destination.

But, we can’t.  It will never be right.

We have to be willing to go down those new roads, even with all of the unexpected and unknown.

Old habits are way too easy.

New ones are unfamiliar and at times scary.

The only way to a new destination, is to start taking new paths.