Daily Bible Engagement

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Scripture Meditation and Memorization

by
Kyle Bleeker

Ask God to speak as you interact with today's Scripture and devotional.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” — Joshua 1:8
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” - Psalm 119:11

A mentor of mine once pushed me to pick a Psalm, memorize it, and then recite it to him a week later. I was a little daunted by the task because I hadn’t memorized Scripture in years. But I didn’t want to disappoint him so I said, “yes,” picked Psalm 63 and got to work reading, writing, and speaking the text out loud so I could ingrain it in my brain.  

The next week I met up with him and recited the passage. He was unimpressed. He read Psalm 119:11 to me and explained that the purpose of hiding God’s Word in our hearts is that it will take root in such a way that two things will happen: 1) God’s own life begins to grow within us; and 2) as God changes us, sin is displaced. 

He told me, “That’s why you don’t want to just know God’s Word, you want to make it a living part of you.” He then encouraged me to spend one more week “living with the text,” chewing on it, digesting it, and praying it back to God. 

I walked away confused. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Thankfully, because I respected him, I gave it my best try. I started to meditate on Psalm 63, turning it over again and again in my mind. But nothing was different until I found myself in the middle of an intramural game that I was losing badly. I got angrier and more frustrated with how the game was going, and was about to act badly when the opening line of Psalm 63 jumped into my head. “Oh God, my God, earnestly I seek you.”  

I was caught off guard that the text surfaced at that point, and even more surprised how it reset my perspective. I pulled back from my anger. I put the brakes on my competitive drive. I slowed down enough to realize I wasn’t “living the text.” I still ended up losing the game, but I had the sense that I had gained a new skill and maybe even some character that wasn’t there before.  

Looking back, I’m so glad my mentor pushed me to try memorizing and meditating on Scripture. It taught me that when you do the work of hiding God’s Word inside you, you give the Holy Spirit material to work with to displace sin and foster the growth of God's life inside you. It is a worthwhile pursuit that will never return empty. 

Scripture meditation and memorization enable us to slow down the pace of our reading and truly immerse ourselves in a few verses. As John Ortberg reminds us, “the goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures. The goal is to get the Scriptures through us.” He explains:

“Meditation is as slow as the process by which roots draw moisture from the flowing river to bring nurture and fruitfulness to a great tree. Meditation is important enough to be mentioned more than fifty times in the Old Testament. It means not only to think about God's Word, but to read it aloud. Reading the Scriptures out loud gives the reader focused attention and the advantage of learning by both eye and ear ... Meditation merely implies sustained attention. It is built around this simple principle: ‘what the mind repeats, it retains.’ 

To begin, choose a single piece of Scripture — one ‘thought’ of God’s — that you will live with for one day. Allow this thought to become part of your memory ... Memorizing Scriptures is one of the most powerful means of transforming our minds. Memorize statements from Scripture that will help you in matters in which you need it most … For instance, if pride is a problem, try Philippians 2:3: ‘Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.’ What matters is not how many words we memorize, but what happens to our minds as we immerse them in Scripture. As with any other spiritual discipline, memorization is only a means to an end.” (Ortberg, p. 188-190) 

reflect

Answer the questions below and write down any other thoughts and prayers to God in your Life in Rhythm journal.

  1. How do you want to grow in Scripture meditation and memorization?  
  2. Try memorizing 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Session Two memory verse) this week. 
  3. Meditate on Psalm 119:11. Write down what God stirs in your heart in your journal.

Go deeper (optional)

Every day you'll have an opportunity to "go deeper" into God's Word by practicing the REAP study method. Read the following scripture and use your journal and the REAP method to unpack the following scripture and apply it to your life.

John 8:31-36
Learn more about reap