This is a guest post by David Mathis, author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines.
When It Just Won’t Stick
Perhaps you’ve heard the pitch for Scripture memory a thousand times. You’re persuaded the benefits would be incalculable, and that there may be no better use of your time than to hide God’s Word in your heart and store it away for future use. But you’ve tried your hand at it again and again, and just never got the magic working.
Maybe it brought back some sentiment you couldn’t shake from rote memorization in grade school, or eventually you threw up your hands and blamed it on a bad memory. You knew it would be wonderful to have a store of Scripture treasured up, or an arsenal of weapons stockpiled for the Spirit’s use. But if it was all oriented on saving up for some uncertain future time, and had little to do with today, you likely didn’t feel much urgency about it.
But maybe the breakthrough could come with some simple changes in perspective. What if Scripture memory really was about today?
At least for a minute, forget decades from now; throw aside the litany of daily reviews of previously memorized texts; abandon the mentality of building the store and stocking the pile, at least as the driving motivation. Instead, focus on the present. Scripture memory, at its best, is about feeding your soul today and mapping your life and mind onto the very life and mind of God.
Give Us This Day
It’s all well and good to store up bright treasures and sharp weapons for future use, but if you’re cut from the cloth I am, you find it all too easy to put it off when every today seems to already have enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). Maybe the discovery you’ve needed to finally make some tracks is simply applying this line from the Lord’s Prayer to Bible memorization: Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).
When we learn the Scriptures by heart, we’re not just memorizing ancient, enduringly relevant texts, but we’re listening to and learning the voice of our Creator and Redeemer himself. When we memorize lines from the Bible, we are shaping our minds in the moment to mimic the structure and mindset of the mind of God.
Good theology forms our minds in a general way to think God’s thoughts after him. But memorized Scripture molds our minds, with as much specificity as is humanly possible, to mimic the folds and creases in the mind of God. Theology gets us to the ballpark; memorized Scripture, into the clubhouse.