Learning words and phrases has never come very easily to me. I used to find school French spelling tests hard work, as I repeated the word and its translation again and again and again, hoping it would go in! Similarly I’ve found learning Scripture difficult, but I know it’s good to do for a disciple of Jesus. Interestingly, set Scripture to music, and I learn it quite easily. Isn’t that interesting?
At The Belfrey’s Foundations course – a 3 week discipleship course for people who want to find out more about belonging – we encourage people to get a good handle on the bible, and one great way of doing that is by learning Scripture. So we take a verse and learn it together, and then come back to it a few times. Here’s a recent message I received from someone who’d been on Foundations:
‘Hi Matthew. I just wanted to tell you – Psalm 119:11 ‘I have hidden your word within my heart that I might not sin against you’ – has helped me quit smoking! I have quit loads of times, but not without God and his words. I have been praying in it for weeks. So thank you for making me memorise that verse.’
Excellent! That’s another reminder of the power of God’s word to change lives, and how letting the word sink deep inside us through memorising can be really helpful.
I was challenged about this again just yesterday when Psalm 19 was used as part of Evening Prayer at the York Diocese Clergy Conference that I’m currently attending. A couple of years ago I learned part of this psalm but I haven’t revisited it since. As it was read yesterday I found that I could only remember bits. So I’ve spent some time this morning revisiting it and re-learning it. And I’ve been taking phrases and using them in my prayers for various people.
If you’ve never tried to memorise Scripture, then why not try to make a start today? You could write down a bible verse on a post-it, recite it a few times, and then stick it somewhere it’ll be seen – like on the fridge door, or the dashboard of the car, or the back of the loo door. Go over it a few times. Perhaps turn it into a prayer. And keep asking the Spirit of Jesus to help you. He will. The important thing is to let God’s word get deep into your life, like water soaking into a dry plant. It will refresh you and revive you.
If you don’t know where to start, you could start with Psalm 119:11 (mentioned in the message above): ‘I have hidden your word within my heart, that I might not sin against you.’
But you might, like me, choose to learn a phrase or few verses from Psalm 19. Here are the 3 verses I’ve been learning. They are full of profound truth. Enjoy!
‘The law of The Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of The Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of The Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of The Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of The Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of The Lord are sure, and all of them are righteous.‘