By Amanda Cox
One of the things that jumped out at me recently from our daily Bible readings was much less about a specific passage, and more a realization I had. The verse that sparked this whole thing was Psalm 43:1-2. Now before you read it, I want you to imagine what it might sound like if Aerosmith sang these verses as a song. Okay, go:
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Growing up, we listened to these stories on cassette tapes called “GT and the Halo Express” (this is pre-Veggie Tales days) that put scripture to song. There was a scripture-based story as well, but come on, the songs are the best part of any story – biblical, Disney, or otherwise.
This particular song/Psalm was pretty rock and roll. You could sing-shout it, which was fun for everyone…especially on road trips. This was just one of the scriptures I’d memorized thanks to a vast collection of cassette tapes. We didn’t have cable and weren’t allowed to watch TV much, so,we listed to A LOT of tapes.
I’ve memorized maybe a handful of Bible verses in my adult life, but most of it was when I was a kid. And most of that was before high school. Now I have access to the Bible any time I have my phone. With Google or the Bible app it’s all just right there. The catch is, I easily get distracted in the simple motion of taking out my phone and opening the app. I’m more apt to just highlight or screenshot a verse that I find meaningful; I don’t commit it to memory. Another excuse I’ve told myself is that if I’m reading the Bible every day, isn’t that good enough? I don’t think it is.
Through this corporate reading plan, I’ve come to the realization that I need to get back into the habit of memorizing scripture. Here’s some of the reasons I think this is a vital spiritual practice:
Hebrews 4:12 says “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” I definitely need that weapon in my arsenal. With the amount of “truths” our culture presents, scripture helps us filter out what is God’s truth and what is not. Having scripture committed to memory helps you have a ready first-line of defense to all of the un-truth we are bombarded with. For example, Jesus quoted scripture when he was being tempted in the wilderness. All three times Satan tempted Him, Jesus responded with scripture.
What happened when He did this? The devil FLED. That’s how powerful these words are.
When we bring scripture into our prayer and praise, it helps align our hearts with God. So many of the songs we sing in worship are taken almost verbatim from the Bible. If you don’t know what to say in your prayers, you can literally just pray scripture. Sometimes in my praise and in my prayers, I find myself just talking to myself and getting really randomly off topic and losing focus. Using scripture helps me refocus and reconnect to who God has shown himself to be. The Bible literally shows us exactly the kind of things to say that are pleasing to God. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gives us an actual prayer that we can pray and then use as a template to customize into our own prayers.
If you’ve been following along in our daily Bible readings, we’ve seen the nation of Israel go from things going really great, to bad, to super horrible. Things always get worse when Israel forgets all the good things God has done for them. They choose to do it their way. Sometimes it’s because the generations before them didn’t teach their kids what God had done and didn’t pass down what God told them to. I do not want that said of me with my kid(s). The way my mom invested all these resources to make sure I commit God’s words to memory, I want to make sure I set that example as well.
If you’re interested in flexing your memorizing muscle with me, remember, you don’t have to memorize the whole Bible in one day. There are lists people have made of their most recommended verses to memorize. So you could work through a list like that. Or as we are reading through the Bible, my plan is to find one verse that is meaningful and write it down several places. I’m better at remembering things if I hear them and say them, so I’ll probably do this in the car. My goal is going to be to memorize one new scripture per month. Maybe once I get better at it I can try for once a week.
Hold yourself accountable by telling a friend or spouse you’re doing this and then set a time to recite it. I hope that in taking up this practice we can become more encouraging to one another by being able to speak truth and life-giving scripture over each other. After all, it’s the most powerful tool we have.