Do you memorize scripture? I remember when I was young we always had memory verses to take home from Sunday School. I always took those challenges quite seriously. In vacation bible school once I had to memorize Psalm 23 and recite it in front of parents. It was scary, but I did it. And to this day remember it.
Our pastors and priests and fathers of the Church say memorizing scripture is very good for you. Reading scripture daily is essential to the Christian life. If we follow the church lectionary faithfully, especially the psalter readings we probably could start remembering things after awhile. I’ve read that in the early days of the church and monasticism the monks were required to memorize the Psalms. It is hard to imagine!
Several years ago while reading a blog (the title escapes me now, but might have been Ann Voskamp–maybe) where the author was talking about visiting an elderly family member in a nursing home. She talked about how she desired to memorize scripture so that when she was as old as this loved one she would have that resource in the recesses of her mind to draw on when she was too feeble to read any longer. How wonderful that would be!
I’ve not even begun to start something like that but I sure would love to.
A couple years ago I used to read Psalm 50(51) to my boys every single night before they went to sleep. By doing so I committed it to memory. Over the years I’ve noticed short verses have been committed to memory just from hearing them in services every single Sunday, or Wednesday.
So this lent I decided I wanted to challenge myself to memorize something a bit more significant, something I hear frequently in service. And I’m hoping to do this a little more frequently then every few years. I love the idea of getting to old age and having a storehouse of scripture to draw on as I sit in my rocking chair whiling away the days. Or even before those days, while I’m working at cooking and cleaning, being able to bring to mind those precious words of strength, wisdom, praise and joy.
I just read an interview on Orthodox Christian Network. Fr. Christopher Metropulos interviewed Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on memorizing scripture. It is a very good read. He asked why is it important to memorize scripture. His answer involved sharing stories but it came down to this…
The answer surely is–memorizing impresses the words upon us. By memorizing, we mark the words of the Bible in our heart. By memorizing, we make the words of Scripture part of ourselves. That, I think, is the value of learning things by heart. I am glad that at school many years ago I was made to learn things by heart from the Bible. And I remember many of those passages even now, some sixty-five years later. For example, Proverbs: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.” I could recite a great deal more of that, but I will spare you. But, yes, memorizing makes it part of ourselves. So that we could really say, in the words of the Psalms, ‘Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my path.’Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
This Lenten season I’ve chosen to memorize Psalm 103(104). I have come to absolutely love this Psalm. It is read at every vespers service. Every time I read it I marvel at the descriptive nature of David’s words. The words that describe the beautiful creation we live in are so beautiful. I want it imprinted on my heart.
Won’t you join me in choosing to add memorizing scripture to your Lenten endeavors? I’m certain you won’t regret it. If you’d like to memorize Psalm 103(104) with me click on the picture above to print. I chose the translation from the Psalter According to the Seventy. I love this specific translation.
By the way…the reason I always have two numbers with the Psalms is because almost always I’m using the Psalter or Septuagint numbering of the Psalms which is one off from the English/Western Bible. The 2nd # is the English numbering. The Septuagint combined chapters 9 & 10.