Recovering the most neglected spiritual discipline
February 5th, 2018 / By: Joshua Crutchfield | FBC Madisonville / comments
We shudder at the thought. We might pray, we might read our Bible, we might even tithe, but memorize Scripture? Well, that might be asking a little too much of us. While some might argue that it is not the most neglected spiritual discipline, it cannot be denied that it is one of the least developed practices within the Christian community. But what do we miss out on when we do not exercise this spiritual muscle?
When I was a child, I went through a Bible drill program. I learned the order of the books of the Bible and well over 20 verses. Now, my kids are going through Awanas and they are learning the order of the canon, as well as numerous verses. They do this without complaining. In fact, they love it. They look forward to every Sunday night. When my wife and I pick them up from class, they usually begin sharing with us all the verses they are working on.
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood we stop the emphasis of Scripture memorization. Apparently, this discipline was good enough for us as children, but not important enough for us as adults. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we do not understand the purpose and benefit of Scripture memorization.
What prevents us from growing in the discipline of Scripture memorization? It is not our inability to memorize, but our ability to make excuses. We can memorize television stations and the schedules of our favorite shows, but then fail to even attempt being a person who meditates on the law of the Lord for just a moment, let alone day and night (Psalm 1:2).
Still, we are quick to offer up reasons why we cannot grow in this discipline. We comment about our age or inability to recall. Sometimes we say we just don’t know what to memorize. What we will not say is the true reason we make no effort to grow in this spiritual discipline: we don’t esteem the Bible like we say we do. But if we were to spend as much time in our effort to treasure God’s Word in our hearts as we do justifying our ineptness, we would have already seen the growth that comes from meditating on God’s precious Word.
Casual Christianity has given way to a mediocre faith. We have tolerated a minimalistic approach to being disciples and making disciples, and the church is suffering for it. With an abundance of apologies, we miss out on a profusion of fruit. This is one of the reasons why I have led the church I pastor to pursue the discipline of Scripture memorization, so that we might enjoy the fruit that comes from dwelling on the Word of God.
Each month we focus on one verse or set of verses in hopes that our unified meditation would shape the culture of our church family and lead us to engage our community with hearts transformed by the Bible. This encouraged discipline now helps shape our worship services and stimulates a greater unity as we come together with one mind (Philippians 1:27).
On the last Sunday of every month, we as a congregation, from the children to the senior adults, stand and recite together God’s Word. I cannot adequately describe the joy I felt the first time we did this together. I am more convinced now than ever of the need for churches to grow in the discipline of Scripture memorization. It is not about the quantity that is memorized, but the quality that comes from memorization.
So let me encourage you to take up the discipline of treasuring God’s Word, as an individual, as a family and as a church family, and discover what it is like to be a fruit bearing tree planted by streams of water.