Why memorize Scripture?
Several years ago at ECC, we began the practice of encouraging one another to memorize Scripture by publishing a Fighter Verse in the bulletin and reciting it together each Sunday morning. I suspect that the number of us actually memorizing Fighter Verses each week is pretty small, so we have been thinking of ways to broaden participation. It occurs to me that even the phrase "Scripture memorization" makes some people nervous and somewhat hopeless of being successful. But I am living proof that it CAN be done. And we as a staff acknowledge that there are ways to make it easier for all of us to memorize God's Word together.
First of all, I agree that some of the Fighter Verses are just incredibly long! It's tough to even want to begin learning some of the complicated passages in just a week. And, you might also think that the verses are not immediately relevant to you, so why bother?
I've been thinking about this because of something Christy G said to me a couple of weeks ago. She had read in a devotion that Scripture memory is often thought to be the habit of only those who are super spiritual. The reality is that memorizing Scripture is actually for those of us who are feeling weak and weary and need help to find our way.
That really started me thinking. It is certainly true that I need Scripture to minister to me at those times when my body fails me, and my strength is gone, or when I am discouraged. And what better way to access God's Word than from my own memory? Sure, I have a Bible on my phone, but the last thing I am motivated to do when feeling down is to go searching through a digital Bible for help.
And here's the thing: I need different kinds of help from God's Word in different circumstances. Sometimes I just really want to praise Him, like on the first sunny day after weeks of snow! Sometimes I need to pour out my heart to him, but my words seem trivial, so I call on David's words from the Psalms to help. And sometimes I just need to beg for forgiveness, and know that Paul struggled with sin in the same way that I do, and that forgiveness is mine in Christ, just for the asking! The words of Scripture inform my thinking and my praying, so I need a storehouse to draw from.
Knowing this, I am motivated to learn the weekly verse, even if I don't see an immediate need for it in my life. At some point in time, that verse will return to me and minister to me. Or I will be able to minister to someone else, or just recall God's goodness to me in giving me His Word to meditate on.
So in the hopes of encouraging others to memorize Scripture, we are going to change how we do our memory verses. Our plan is to do a verse not over just a week's time, but over a month. The verse will be printed in the bulletin, just as it is now (if you didn't know this, it's on the back page). On the first Sunday of the month, the whole verse will appear on the front wall of the sanctuary as we recite it. Each Sunday of the month after that, some of the words will be left out. In this way, we hope many more of us will learn the verse simply by participating on Sunday mornings as we recite it together.
You don't have to be a Super Saint to memorize Scripture. You just need to know that you need the help, encouragement and joy that comes from having God's Word stored up in your heart. From that starting point, it just takes perseverance, practice and patience. Join me, and let's see what God will do.