I’ve been blogging through the concept of Christian meditation over the past few weeks, looking at the Psalms and the ministry of Jesus. I’ve noted that meditation is not a neutral concept while also understanding that this vital practice is part of our Christian walk. Meditation is intimately tied to the word of God, to the point of memorizing what it says. As the Psalmist declares, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalms 119:11 ESV). Clearly, memorizing Scripture is meant to honor God, ultimately giving his people joy by walking in holiness. Andrew Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, has recognized this need and recently written on Scripture memorization. While many of us likely have various single verses memorized, Davis encourages his readers to go a step further. He hopes that we would memorize whole books of Scripture and other large sections of God’s word. This sort of memorization receives the call to meditate upon God’s word with the utmost seriousness and joy. He writes this in a recent interview with The Gospel Coalition:
The beauty of memorization comes in the deeper understanding that results from continual meditation (“day and night” as Psalm 1 puts it) on the Word of God, and from the purifying effects of having a mind that concentrates fully on the Word rather than on worldly things. Memorization is a great way to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1), because it gives the Word much more concentrated access to your heart. It doesn’t rest lightly but hits you more fully with great impact.
Having the word of God in you and working through every aspect of your life is the one of the goals of Christian meditation. Like the Psalmist we are to have a soul consumed with longing for the rules of God at all times (Psalm 119:20). But whole books? Large sections of Scripture? This seems like an impossible task! Davis’s prescription to this problem: time. He goes on to say:
Over the first few years of seeking to memorize whole books of the Bible, I learned immediately the essence of it: repetition over time. I then developed some simple techniques for repeating the new verses while holding onto old ones. The process that I have written down in the booklet An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture was pretty much intact after about two years of working on it. Details like repeating the whole book for 100 days, and how to memorize larger portions of scripture, and the value of memorizing chapter and verse numbers developed in those first two years.
Davis recognizes that we have limitations and doesn’t go on to prescribe a monastic retreat in order to accomplish the task of extended Scripture memorization. But this call is intriguing nonetheless and warrants our consideration. As one who usually focuses on memorizing key verses, I have been challenged by this call for an enlarged vision of Bible meditation and memorization. His booklet, An Approach to the Extended Memorization of Scripture, is available on Kindle for $0.99! It’s a short booklet, but well worth the price. I encourage you to download it, ingest his practical wisdom, and begin the process of cherishing God’s word on a whole new level.