Why Memorize Scripture? (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 12, 2015)

My phone died recently, and although I’m grateful that it was covered under warranty, having to replace it without warning meant that I lost some apps and contacts that were apparently saved only on the device. One of those apps was a notepad that I use frequently in the car to voice-text memos to myself, like a list of devotional ideas that popped into my head while driving to work in the mornings, assorted thoughts that I wanted to write about one of these days. Gone. Ugh.

 

Losing those notes reminded me of how important it is to commit certain things to memory, like Scripture. Sometimes people say that memorizing Bible verses is too difficult or takes too much time and effort. If that’s your viewpoint, then I challenge you to think about all of the trivial facts that you have stored in your brain right now: My 6th grade crush, Danny Wingert’s birthday? Check. The entire script of The Princess Bride? Check. The combination to my high school locker? Check. My great-aunt’s buttermilk pie recipe? Check. Multiple passwords for email addresses, my bank, Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other things? Check.

 

We are capable of memorizing Scripture. Perhaps we simply lack the motivation. If that’s the case, let’s allow the Bible to speak for itself about why we should make the effort to memorize verses. Psalm 119:9-11 reminds us that committing God’s word to memory helps to keep us from sinning. Joshua 1:8 indicates that when we meditate on Scripture, we are better able to do what God wants us to do. Jeremiah 15:16 talks about the joy of savoring God’s word like a scrumptious meal. Proverbs 6:21-23 describes God’s word as a light to lead us down the right path.

 

God speaks to us through his word. When you are having a bad day, you could pick up the phone and text or call a friend, but imagine how much more comforting it could be if you had a verse like Psalm 46:10 floating through your mind all the while, “Be still and know that I am God …” Better yet, how neat would it be if the tables were turned and you were the one to be able to offer comfort to a friend because of the Scripture that you had memorized?

 

Don’t think of it as a chore. Think of it as one more way to get to know God better. Memorizing the Bible can become a form of worship between you and the Lord, and it will enrich your prayer life. Try it!

Look for Wisdom (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 6, 2014)

I have a t-shirt that reads: “The book was better.” I love it, because with few exceptions (like The Princess Bride), I think it’s a true statement. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy movies a lot, but books can go into so much more depth on plot and character development. I develop an image in my mind of how the character looks, and one of the most frustrating things to me about watching a movie based on a book is when the actors don’t look the way I pictured the characters to be when I read the story.

We are visual creatures, and if you don’t believe me, then try wearing a t-shirt & sweatpants to your next job interview or go out in public with bed-head. We make snap judgments about people based on appearance every day. Even the church isn’t immune from first impressions. Take the prophet Samuel, for example. When he met each of Jesse’s sons to determine which one would be the next king (as God had instructed him to do … see the full story in 1 Samuel), he assumed that the eldest, tallest, and/or most physically attractive would be God’s chosen one.

Boy, did God throw Samuel a curveball! Samuel didn’t even voice his thoughts aloud as he was introduced to Jesse’s first son, but God knew what he was thinking and said to him in 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV), “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” After Solomon sized up seven older brothers, Jesse’s youngest son, David, was anointed as king.

A generation later, God appeared to Jesse’s grandson/David’s son, King Solomon, in a dream and invited him to ask for something (1 Kings 3). Instead of long life, revenge, or wealth, Solomon asked for wisdom. God was so pleased with his selfless request that he also gave him the worldly things that he did not ask for. Solomon would later write in Ecclesiastes 8:1b (MSG), “Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners.”

Does having wisdom mean that Solomon was perfect? Of course not, yet I can’t help but wonder if he remembered hearing a thing or two about his dad’s experience with Samuel as he was growing up, and Solomon seemed to understand that what’s inside (our character traits and relationship with the Lord) matters more than what’s outside (mere appearances).