I have a little post-it note on my refrigerator I wrote during my quiet time one morning. It says, “God is for us!!!” Rom 8:31
The book of Romans has always been awe-inspiring and powerfully life-changing for me (when I’m believing it and living it), but particularly the eighth chapter. I’ve spent a lot of time there.
A few years back, I underwent a momentous life change. All three of my kids (in a 2-year period) met their spouses, got married, and moved out of state. None of them was closer than four hours away. For a woman who had invested her life in her family, this was a shocker. No grabbing coffee while the grandchildren were in school? No babysitting? No soccer games to attend? No sleepovers? Hmmm…
At first, I toughed it out. “God has good things for me!”
Then after taking a job I wound up hating (not too strong a word) and leaving, I began thinking, “I don’t know what to do with my life. God, where are You?”
I would “counsel” myself, tell myself that God will never leave or forsake me, that He has a good plan for my life, that He’s in control, blah, blah, blah. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but my good counsel was falling on deaf ears. Or a heart that was growing hard. Dwelling on what I wanted but couldn’t have was becoming a habit. Eek. I was having trouble believing that God had good things planned for me.
During the beginning of this time of adjustment, I went on a ladies retreat where one of the speakers touched my heart. To be honest, I don’t even remember what she was talking about now, but I knew if I could have a few minutes alone with her, she could help. When we finally had a moment to talk, she sat me right down, took my hands in hers, zeroed in on my eyes and asked, “How can I help you?” I shared with her briefly how I felt.
What do I remember of her response? “Memorize Romans 8.” Simply that. I walked away comforted somehow and remembered only that.
Why memorize Scripture when we have such easy access to it on our phones and in our homes?
7 Reasons to Memorize Scripture
- Because you learn to know God better, which leads you to deeper awareness of Him and enjoyment of his presence. Ps 103:8-14
- Because it renews our minds. Thoughts produce emotions. Thoughts also produce behavior. If you want to flourish in your emotions (being set free from depression, anger, discontent) and behavior (being set free from compulsive behavior, complaining, laziness), it starts with renewing your mind. Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:22-24
- Because you have easier access to what you need when you need it for yourself (truth, comfort, a Father) and for others (sharing the gospel, counsel). 1 Peter 3:15
- Because it’s healing. When you meditate on the truths of God instead of where your mind might naturally go, you become confident that you are complete in Christ, and you can be set free from harboring past hurts. Colossians 2:10
- Because it’s one of the ways God provides for us. We become more receptive to truth in the midst of confusion or peace in the midst of turmoil. John 10:10
- Because it provides a defense against temptation. Psalm 119:11
- Because through this process, we are made to be like Christ. As we behold God’s glory, we are transformed to be like Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18
So I took a leap and set out to memorize Romans 8. I’d like to share with you a little of my process, especially a great game, which I think has to be the easiest way to memorize Scripture!
First let me say, the more we understand the meaning of a passage and the more we see the logical progression of thought, the easier it will be to flow with the words. So I suggest beginning with studying the meaning of the passage to be memorized. Look up the words in a concordance or dictionary. Understand it in the context of the preceding and subsequent verses. This is the most important step – to understand and believe what you’re reading.
These are my pages that I worked on. I copied and pasted out of www.biblegateway.com onto a document and set it up so that each verse was separated from the next (as opposed to paragraph form). These are well-worn, coffee-dripped, marked-up pages!
Now as I understand it, the more senses we use to learn something, the greater the chance is that it will work its way into our long term memory. So, this means we need to see it, hear it and speak it out loud. (If you can figure out a way to smell, touch and taste it, let me know!)
So also on biblegateway, I would listen to the chapter as well as the smaller passage I was focusing on that day a few times while driving to work, or while doing dishes, or while taking a walk. When my hands and eyes were free, I would listen to it while holding this paper in front of me looking at it and speaking it out loud.
I think it’s interesting to note that muscle memory is involved here. Wikipedia says, “When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.” This is what we are taking advantage of when we enunciate with our mouths the words we’re trying to memorize.
At this point, I’m working on the middle section, verses 19-25. To do this, I’ve employed a game I used to use when I taught 4th grade in a Christian school. And do you know, my whole class memorized all of Romans 12 that year!
Here’s a picture of what I use now for me (please excuse the sloppiness – I didn’t expect anyone to see it but me!). I wrote out every word of verses 19-25 on this white board. I repeated it that way over and over for the first few days. While I did this, my eyes got comfortable with where the words were placed. My ears and mouth became comfortable with the phraseology and cadence of how the verses sounded. Then I erased one or two words from every verse and replaced that word with a blank line. Here is where the challenge began. But it’s amazing how my mouth knew what to say even “without conscious effort.”
Every day I try to get through Rom 8:1-18 without mistakes or hesitating. It’s rare, but I keep trying! Then I look at my white board and practice verses 19-25, filling in the blank spaces with the words I remember. Then I erase another few words from the board and read it through again.
This would be a fun thing to do as a family. You could attach a white board to a wall in your kitchen, write a Scripture on it, and every day erase one or two words. I bet your children will have it memorized in just a few days!
You get it. The plan is to continue until there is a white board with only blank lines on it. Can you imagine the excitement of my fourth grade class when I finally erased the last few words and all we had left were blank lines, and as I pointed to each blank line, my class from memory recited all the words of Romans 12?! It was fabulous! Can you imagine MY excitement that I can actually do this? Ha!
Has this practice added to my life personally? You betcha. Meditating on the word causes doubts to flee and faith to rise. It fills emptiness with the weight and substance of truth. It reminds me that God is magnificent and all-powerful but stoops down in unfailing lovingkindness to reach us in our need.
I love that I can meditate on a portion and be drawn to worship. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Ordinary people in the midst of ordinary days being led to worship an extraordinary God!
Do you ever feel lost or without purpose? Do you ever have trouble believing what you know to be true? Maybe a season of a deeper focus on particular Scriptures that speak to your need can help. You can even memorize those Scriptures so that you can meditate on them any time of day or even in the middle of the night. If you would like to share, maybe we could come up with Scriptural truth together that might help…