- April 18, 2012
- 19 Comments
God’s Story Becoming Our Story – Bible Memorization
I’m reading “The Great Omission” by Dallas Willard and came upon this quote on Bible memorization:
Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to – and of course I don’t have to – choose between all the spiritual disciplines of the spiritual life and take only one, I would choose Bible memorization. I would not be a pastor of a church that did not have a program of Bible memorization in it, because Bible memorization is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what we need, “To have the book of the Law ever before us” (Joshua 1:8) (p. 58)
I’ve spent considerable time on Bible memorization and have a few observations from my own experience:
1. It takes time. Lots of it. Focused, intentional, non-hurried time. But our brain is hardwired to memorize things and if we practice it becomes easier
2. Just because I memorize something doesn’t mean I trust it. Memorizing passages on humility and grace does not prevent me from taking unholy pride in my accomplishment.
3. I can memorize an entire epistle of the New Testament and in a month forget much of it.
4. I do not have control when I have access to what I’ve memorized. Sometimes it’s there when I want it, sometimes not. Sometimes it just comes to me, sometimes it does not. Passages I forget when I try to think of them will suddenly “come to me” when I’m preaching, counseling, or having a conversation.
True confession: I’m a pastor of a church where we DON’T have a program of Bible memorization. Is this because I think it isn’t as important as Dr. Willard? Who am I to disagree with what he says about Bible memorization? He’s DALLAS WILLARD. I would hazard to guess that my title would not be “Pastor of Spiritual Formation” if it wasn’t for Dallas Willard. THAT we memorize scripture is essential, but HOW we memorize it is where I have questions. I want to explore these questions in future posts on the blog:
“Is there a systematic, programmatic way to memorize scripture in a local church in which the program/system doesn’t undo or undermine all the benefits of the discipline of memorization? What would that look like?
How do we guide this as Pastors/leaders in a way that leaves room for organic, personal growth and engagement rather than a one-size fits all approach?
How do we use what we’ve memorized in our spiritual formation?
What is the relationship between memorization and the story we tell ourselves about God, others, and ourselves? IN other words – how does memorization influence imagination?
Included in the exploration of these questions will be a few of the passages I’ve memorized and why. Most of these will be passages I’ve already committed to memory – some will be those I’m actively memorizing now. But right now I’m looking for your thoughts on this:
What is your experience of memorizing scripture? Have you found it edifying? Helpful? Burdensome? Frustrating?
What would a program at a church for scripture memorization look like?
What method or tool do you use to memorize?
Which passages have been most helpful for you in your discipline?