‘Spiritual discipline’ I know it sounds weird, it’s a thing that seems to have fallen from the lips of many Christians today. We don’t hear the phrase much, is it because we hate the word discipline? Is it because we worry that calling something spiritual makes it sound mystical and dubious? Or is it because we are sinful human beings who do not like to think about the fact that we need to train ourselves in godliness? It could be one, all or none of those things.
However, whether we use the phrase or not, every Christian engages (or at least should engage) in spiritual disciples. Prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, worship, fasting, and the list could go on. I’ve chosen to mention these because they’re probably the most well-known and practices disciplines.
There is one more disciple that I’m sad to see is not being practiced much today; Scripture memorisation. Memorising the Bible is not just about remembering words, like we would a joke or a riddle, it’s about internalising the very Word of God.
When I studied at Bible College we had to memorise a lot of Bible verses and we were tested and graded on our memory. I remember at the time being frustrated and thinking that it was an annoying practice. But now in pastoral situations, in conversations, in sermon prep and in my prayer life those verses continue to come back to mind and are hugely beneficial. Scripture memorisation is not a pointless chore, but it is a wonderful practice that helps us meditate on the Word of the Lord day and night.
Jesus knew Scripture and used it as he was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. We’re told to let the Word of Christ dwell in us (Colossians 3:16). We’re called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). There are plenty more reasons, to be found in Scripture, that help us see the importance of Scripture memorisation. So, go and memorise folks!
But I can almost hear the question as I write this post “I get all that, but how does Scripture memorisation help me?” We won’t begin to explore what’s wrong with that question (overtly me-centric, self-serving) that is for a whole new blog post. But I do understand why the question is asked, so here goes… here are a few reasons why I think that Scripture memorisation can help you;
1. Help you fight sin and temptation
We are surrounded by countless distractions, some good and some bad. Satan has had from the beginning of time to study humanity and he knows the depravity of the human heart. Satan knows what can cause us to stumble and sin. For some it may be food, for others lust, for others money, but whatever temptations we face, we must be prepared and ready to fight. Scripture memorisation can help us in that fight because it immediately lifts our eyes to and causes us to think about God and His Word. There is nothing mystical or magical about remembering words, but thinking about, dwelling on and actively pondering the depths of Scripture is an absolute privilege. We can best do this by knowing a passage of Scripture, off by heart, and thinking it through properly. Take Romans 5:1-5, for example, it’s very short but it is jam backed with marvellous truth. Memorising Scripture helps us against the struggles of sin and temptation because in our moments of weakness, we can turn our mind to the things of God. In our times of struggle we can run to the Word of the Lord that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. Help you care for, pastor and comfort the Lord’s people
As we spend time with friends and family members, we will inevitably come across hurting people. We very rarely hear about horrible situations or difficulties when we’re sitting with our Bibles open in front of us. That’s where memorisation comes in handy, it means that we can comfort the Lord’s people with the Word of the Lord. By this I don’t mean that you quote Romans 8:28 at someone in every situation (so many Christians have caused damage by doing this!). I’m talking about learning solid truths that will carry a believer through difficult times and lift their eyes to see the Lord. A good place to start would be to memorise verses about God’s holiness, grace, faithfulness, His covenants and verses about God’s divine justice and judgment. Hurting people don’t need the advice of another fallen human being, they need the Words of their Creator and Sustainer, delivered to them out of a genuine love and care for their souls.
3. Help you communicate the gospel well to non-Christians.
I highly doubt that any of us have been in the hair dressers, gotten into a gospel conversation and asked the barber to wait a second whilst you run home to get your Bible, right? That would be weird! But so many opportunities present themselves for us to share the gospel with people. So, memorising key verses that point to our need for a Saviour, point to Jesus as that Saviour and tell about the wonderful news that people can go from darkness to light, from death to life will be a huge help!
There are more reasons, but the best thing for you to do is give it a try and you’ll see for yourself that Scripture memorisation is a wonderful spiritual discipline.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to start by memorising a whole chapter, why not just take a verse a week to begin with? Scripture memorisation is an almost forgotten spiritual discipline, but it will be of huge spiritual benefit to your own soul and that of those around you. Let’s let the Word of God transform and change us…remembering what it says is not a bad place to start.