Friday, February 4, 2011

Mission: Memorization

Memorizing scripture is something I have done for a long time. When we memorize scripture, we are literally tucking God's word away into our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says: 

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." 

 If you are anything like me, my bible is not always at arms' length to turn to for the hope, encouragement, or strength I need at the very moment when trials or temptations strike. Naturally, these are the times when I need those words the most. This is why it is critical to have God's word tucked away in the recesses of my heart to pull from during those times. In fact, I still find myself pulling words from my heart that I memorized many years ago... even back to the first one I memorized at age 5 when I was a Sparky in Awana: John 3:16.

There are many ways to memorize scripture, but here a few ways I find most helpful:

1. Write verses in permanent marker on an index card and mark them permanently on your heart. I suggest making a few copies. The act of writing the verse several times is helpful in memorizing it too. Our teachers knew what they were doing back in school when they asked us to write our spelling words five times each- it helped us to memorize them. Usually, after I've written out the verse on my second card, I've found I can already remember at least part of it.

2. Next, hang those cards in places you 'stand around' or 'sit around.' For instance, hang them in places like above the kitchen sink, in the living room (close to the TV), over your washer or dryer or other area where you fold laundry, in the car, by your bed, etc. Every time you see the cards, make it a point to read the verse- not just in your head, but out loud. There is so much power in the spoken word. In Genesis we find this simple yet solid foundational truth clearly demonstrated in Genesis. God created things from nothing by the power of His spoken word. God's Word has the power to transform our world as we speak it, just as it had the power to transform our world at creation.

3. Turn your verse into a tune. I know this may sound corny to some, but hear me out: Isn't it amazing how we remember a simple jingle we heard many years ago advertising a store or product? Do the terms "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz..." (Alka Seltzer) or "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener..." (Oscar Meyer) ring a bell? What about "Like a good neighbor" (State Farm) or "give me a break" (Kit Kat)? I would venture to say those marketing reps were on to something. In much the same way, songs have the ability to cement and solidify a scripture in your heart- for life. Great news though-you don't have to be a songwriter to benefit from memorizing scripture with a melody. Did you know that many classic hymns are saturated in scripture? What a great way to get God's word in your heart and out of your mouth (where, again, it holds transforming power) than by singing it! Did you know there are actually scripture memorization CDs out there as well that have put scripture to music? Take a look at your favorite Christian bookstore or google some online.

4. Look for opportunities to allow the scripture to 'sink in.' The best way I've found to memorize scripture is to pick an area where I am personally in need of transformation and to then use a concordance or an online bible searching website to help me find a related verse. The key is then to look for ways to apply what I've learned. A great site I use is: Then, I soak my mind in it as I meditate on it and ask God to saturate my life with its truth as I pray it into my life.

5. Memorize with someone! This could be your spouse, your kids, a friend, a mentor, etc. Check in with each other and quiz each other from time to time. Work towards an incentive together and celebrate your progress along the way! You can memorize the same scriptures together or each choose different ones. Taking the time to share with someone else how the scripture you are working on has saturated your life and cemented itself in your heart. Over the last 2 years, I have had the mission to memorize 26 verses with my kids: one for each letter of the alphabet, each verse starting with a corresponding, consecutive letter of the alphabet. We memorized them each day as we were on our way to school, with one letter/verse per week or every other week, depending on their pace. I was amazed at how much and how quickly my then 3 and 5 year-olds could learn! It was a great encouragement to me that I was sowing these words not only into their hearts, but into mine as well. Now, over a year later, we still go back to those same verses during some of our teachable moments with them!

If you are looking for someone else to join on this journey, please feel free to join me! I'll be posting the verses I am memorizing each month on my Facebook in a note entitled, "Verses to Memorize this Year." I'd love to hear your stories of how God has transformed your life through His Word and to hear any additional tips you may have to offer in how you memorize scripture.

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