Memorization of Bible verses is common in the modern church. It is in Sunday school, on web services, in emails, flashcards and probably any other place you can think of to put a verse. The question is: Is it effective?
Maybe you’re – or were – like me. I thought I was a bad Christian. I had lots of Bible stories floating around, even a few key verses, but I could never remember them Exactly right.
I would say something like, “Present to you a living sacrifice that you … eh … are acceptable to God … and … eh … prove him worthy.” But I would work on it, read and study more, and I would become better at remembering the verses, but would have trouble remembering book, chapter, and verse.
Then I would say, “Oh, I know them well, I just don’t know where they live.”
At the time, I was a Christian for about 12 years. My friend, a real child of faith (2 years), cited scriptures until he was blue in the face. Frankly, I was jealous.
This is where my heart was. I wanted to learn Bible memory verses just to prove that I knew something, gain recognition, show that I was a ‘man of God’.
Now I haven’t arrived yet, but I’m definitely gone. I realized that my attitude was wrong and began to look at this whole concept of memory verse. What does the Bible say? It really doesn’t say much about remembering verses. There are a few verses that can be interpreted for memorization, but I will go a step further. Not only do we have to remember verses, but we must focus intensely on them, think about them, practice them in our minds and hearts, and chew on it like a cow chewing its feed; gets every last bit of nourishment.
So what’s the difference between remembering and meditating? What may seem like a small matter will make a huge difference in your life.
God told the Israelites to integrate the scriptures into their lives:
“These commands that I give you today must be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. as symbols on your hands and bind them on your brows. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. “- Deut. 6: 6-9 (NIV)
The first instruction on meditation occurs in Joshua 1: 8. God tells Joshua that he (we) must meditate on the Book of the Law day and night. Why? “That you might be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (NIV) The word meditate is the Hebrew word ‘Hagah’ (Strong’s H1897) which means to mumble, mumble, pronounce or speak. God says to Joshua, “You want to fill Moses’ shoes, then think about and talk about what is written day and night. Yes, even Numbers book. ”
Then David writes, “[The blessed man’s] pleasure is in the law of the Lord, and in His law meditating day and night.“(Psalm 1: 2 NIV emphasizes mine)
Let me differ. I think remembering Bible verses is better than not remembering. It can only benefit you. BUT, the Bible teaches to go deeper than just memorization. In fact, it not only teaches us to remember, but to hide the Word in our hearts and make it a part of who we are. Memorization involves your mind, while meditation involves your heart.
A simple story sums up this point. A man held a Christmas table for friends and family. As they gathered around the fire, in the spirit of the season, they decided to quote their favorite verse. The host, an eloquent speaker, got up and recited the 23rd hymn (The Lord is my shepherd, I do not want ….) Guests were amazed at his flair for delivery and applause. After a few others, it was Grandma’s turn. Now Grandma had fallen asleep for about half an hour and had missed what was going on. The host woke her gently and asked her to recite her favorite verse. The grandmother sat up, cleaned her throat and recited the 23rd hymn. When she finished, there was not a dry eye in the room.
When his guests were traveling, a friend approached him and said, “I don’t get it, what was the difference between your recitation and your grandmother’s? They were identical.” The host smiled and simply said, “I know the hymn. She knows the shepherd.”
So start today. Take a favorite memory verse, or look up the popular verse, and take the first step beyond memorizing. Write it on your heart’s tablet. After a month, the results may surprise you.