David and I walk every morning, and while we walk, we pray*. We cover a lot of literal and spiritual ground as we tromp around our neighborhood. We pray for our children and grandchildren, lost family members, missionaries, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
Sometimes we spend the whole walk praising and thanking God and don’t ask him for a thing. He already knows what’s on our hearts, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves exactly who God is so we’re less tempted to worry or fret.
But one morning, we completely switched up our time with the Lord. “Why don’t we quote Scripture back to God? I’ll go first.”
Then I quoted the verse that’s been resonating with me ever since I read it in my quiet time early in the week: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”
I didn’t remember the verse reference (I’m horrible about that.), and I’m not sure I quoted it verbatim, but speaking the words aloud made my heart and my faith braver. Hearing the words made them seem more real, and I found my fist clenching with the conviction that what I’d just declared was really true.
David countered with, “The Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
I volleyed back, “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord thy God is with you.”
“I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you will be also.”
“For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“I saw the Lord, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
“‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise.’”
I wondered how long we’d be able to continue our Scripture tennis match, but the longer we walked in the early-morning darkness, the more verses and passages God brought to our minds. I was surprised.
During my daughters’ homeschooling years we memorized longer portions of the Bible, but other than that, I’ve seldom intentionally memorized Scripture. But I have read God’s Word daily for the last ten years or so. God promises his Word never returns void, and the recall we had despite our 50-year-old brains was evidence of this.
As we were quoting Scripture to each other, I remembered a story that happened during the Cultural Revolution in China. The government was becoming increasingly hostile to people of faith. Persecution against Christians came to a head when the government began confiscating and burning Bibles and other Christian literature.
In her book, Reading Christian Scriptures in China, author Chloe Starr writes, “In spite of the mass confiscation and burning of Christian Scripture, people managed to hide away individual copies, subsequently read in secret and divided into portions for wider circulation. Many learned large portions, or large parts of the Bible by heart, not least by memorization . . . in this way texts from the Bible . . . were transmitted orally, especially passages considered central to the Christian faith and ethos.”
But preservation through memorization isn’t limited to Christians. Jews also committed large portions of Scripture to memory. Joe Amaral, in his book, What Would Jesus Read, writes,
“After the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, the Jews were exiled to Babylon. Not only was there no longer a physical place to go pray, even the sacred Scriptures were becoming scarce. Many of the biblical scrolls were lost or destroyed during the exile.
“In an attempt to preserve the Scriptures, the rabbis divided up the biblical texts, into weekly reading portions and distributed them among the families of Israel. Each family became responsible for memorizing their assigned passage and then reading it in the synagogue every Sabbath.”
I pray our country never bans Bibles, but with the current political climate, I’m not so sure. If, one day, all that’s left of God’s Word is what we’ve memorized, I wonder. How much will we have?
It’s something to think about.
What about you? Do you regularly read and memorize Scripture? What way is most effective for you? Leave a comment below and share your ideas. If you’re reading via email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll down, and leave a comment.
One of my favorite ways to memorize Scripture is through music. Check out this toe-tapping rendition of Psalm 62:1-2, “Find Rest, O My Soul,” by Hosanna’s Scripture Memory Songs (Overcoming Fear).
*Lest you be tempted to envy my husband's and my walking/prayer time, keep in mind that it's taken us 32 years to reach this level of commitment. It's only by God's good grace.