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It’s a new year and we all have new goals concerning our spiritual disciplines. Whether they are lofty goals or perhaps more manageable ones, it’s important to consider which disciplines we prioritize and whether we are giving Scripture memory its rightful place within those goals. Especially when it comes to memorizing, we can miss or forget the goal entirely. Don Whitney writes in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, “The goal is not to see how many verses we can memorize; the goal is godliness.”The goal is to memorize the Word of God so that it can transform our minds and our lives.“ With this goal in mind, Pastor Nathan Forbes devised a plan to lead a group of New Life members through extensive Scripture memory.
Recalling the beginning of his journey into Scripture memorization, Pastor Nathan says, “About a year ago, I had a conversation with New Life member Bill Covington, and we talked about growing in Scripture memory. He started talking about why he wanted to memorize large chunks of Scripture, and by the time he finished talking, I was convinced. We went from memorizing verses here and there to memorizing the book of James in a semester alongside ten others.”
After this experience, he invited more New Life members to participate, saying “This semester, I chose various teachings from Jesus to memorize. My hope was for these teachings to move past my head and deeply impact my heart.”
Scripture memory is a vital and beautiful part of the Christian life. New Life member Bill Covington said, “Having Scripture committed to memory has been helpful in just keeping me more mindful of it. Being able to bring it up immediately for recall has benefitted me in being able to comfort others, understand other parts of Scripture that I am reading more contextually, and understand that the Bible truly is supposed to live in our hearts and minds, not on our nightstand or bookshelf.”
Despite its historic role as a core discipline with the Christian faith, Scripture memory is a challenge to many modern Christians, posing a daunting task for many who are new to the discipline. But it’s worth it, says NL member Kristen Michalsky. “A few weeks after memorizing Matthew 13:45-36, I was meeting up with a girl in my sorority. She was conflicted on whether following the Lord was really worth the cost in college. That verse popped into my head. I got to tell her through it that the kingdom of God is better than anything this earth can offer and that Jesus himself humbly laid down his life to redeem her. In that moment, I was extremely thankful for spending time memorizing Scripture and having a chance to explain this through Jesus’ own words.”
Ultimately, Scripture memory is an effort in patience and love. In a world where new information is constantly available, the measured and disciplined practice of returning to the same passages over an extended period of time can be difficult. Pastor Nathan spoke about his hopes for the New Life members who joined him in this effort, “Like all churches, New Life surely has blind spots. By memorizing Scripture, it helps us to wrestle with the Word which confronts our sin and calls us to follow Jesus in a way that we may ignore without daily repetition. I hope that through Scripture memory, we would love Jesus more.”