by Bethany Allen
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the Practice in triads (5-10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, consider dividing into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
How did last week’s Practice go for you? What stood out to you as you read Ephesians this week?
What might it look like and how could it influence your apprenticeship to Jesus to make regular Bible reading a part of your Community life? Individual life? Both?
Read this Overview
In Luke 4, we find Jesus being led out into the desert by the Holy Spirit after having fasted for 40 days. While in this wilderness Jesus encountered the devil, who tempted him three times. And each time Jesus responded to the devil’s temptations by quoting Scripture. In doing so, Jesus was the man who silenced the devil – and he did so with the Scriptures. All throughout church history, disciples of Jesus have put to memory the truths of God found on the pages of the Bible. In Colossians 3v16, Paul says that we should “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly”.
For the disciple of Jesus, some of the greatest warfare that we will experience takes place amongst the thoughts in our minds. What you think about will shape what you believe and, ultimately, that will shape what you live into. This is why, in the New Testament, Paul continually tells us to renew our minds – a renewed mind leads to a transformed life.
In memorizing Scripture, we are not only following the commands found within them, but employing the deeper reality and power of those words to combat the lies of the enemy about ourselves, culture, God, political climates, and who our real enemy is. When we harness God’s truth in our minds through memorization and rumination, it becomes a realized and embodied weapon against the enemy’s schemes. So, just like our Rabbi, when we memorize the Scriptures and even speak them out loud, we are participating in one of the greatest forms of spiritual warfare.
Do this Practice as a Community right now: (30-45 minutes)
As we talk about memorizing Scriptures, the temptation is to believe that we are not, or won’t be, good at it. And the truth is, this is a journey and it will take time to develop the skill of memorization. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it. In fact, it means the opposite. Without the Practice of memorizing Scripture, the enemy has the ability to deceive us and thwart the truth and, in turn, the good things that God has for us. Memorizing Scripture helps us to learn what the voice of God sounds like. And for the apprentice of Jesus, it is necessary for life in the Kingdom.
But the question remains, how do we do begin to put this into Practice? How do get God’s words from the pages of the Scriptures into our hearts and our minds?
Together with your Community, take the next few minutes and talk through these practical suggestions. The goal is to have each person commit to which idea they want to try this week.
You can start with shorter passages you may already be familiar with (e.g John 3v16, Proverbs 4v5-6, or Psalm 23) or longer passages that are meaningful to you (John 15, Galatians 5, or Romans 12). Either way, keep it simple and start small. And if you learn best when you do something with your hands, it can be helpful to knit, shuffle a deck of cards, squeeze a stress ball, etc. while you quote. The repetitive motion will help you concentrate.
Index Card: Write the verse(s) on one side of an index card and the verse reference on the other side. Carry the card around with you so you can work on memorizing in your free time.
Record Yourself: Try recording yourself on your phone reading the verse(s). Listen back to the recording while you're driving, working out, cleaning your house, grocery shopping, etc.
Make It Visible: Tape the verse(s) to the bathroom mirror or to your car dashboard and work on it as you go about your day. You can also put it as your desktop or phone background. You'll honestly be surprised by how much that helps.
Repetitive Writing: transcribe the verse(s) by hand. Rewrite the verse(s) over and over or use hand-lettering or other creative illustrations or pictures as way of putting it in your mind.
Repetitive Recitation: Read the verse(s) out loud in 5 minute increments and repeat (while allowing some time for your mind to rest). Worked out as a discipline, this could look like:
Reading/Reciting it out loud 4 times per day for a week
Then, read/recite it out loud once a week for a month
Then read/recite it once every three months for a year
And then read/recite it once every year
Talk through which of the above Practices you want to try this week – which verse(s), when, where, how.
Then spend a few minutes praying for each other, asking God to help you make time and press into the Practice, remembering that the devil attacks that which God is after most. If we are in Christ, we have the mind of Christ, which is constantly being renewed and transformed. So as followers of Jesus, we want to be actively engaging our minds in ways that are worshipful and intentional. Perhaps even consider inviting another person in your Community to help keep you accountable to your commitment.
Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night: (5 minutes)
The Practice for this week is fairly simple. Take the time to work through the above Practice that you selected. Determine what you need to do ahead of time to be successful in your commitment. Whether it means buying index cards or a stress ball, take the practical steps you need to to make it happen.
Work through these discussion questions (5-10 minutes)
What do you think about memorizing Scripture? Have you ever done this before? When?
Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice? Is there anything new you want to try?