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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Scripture Memorization, Prayer, and Running


Not too pretty, but these are my Scripture memory cards that I have used for years, adding to them as time goes by. They are worn and weathered with sweat, stains, and soaking rain. I carry them with me almost every time I run (three to four times a week), and review the ones I'm firmly comfortable with; and repeat and rework those that I have trouble with. On a closer look you will see I have also interjected prayers from various sources: Reformed, Lutheran, and Anglican. It adds texture to my running (4 miles or so is a long time for an idle mind). I have done this kind of thing for over two decades - run and work on memorizing Scripture, meditating on Scripture, and praying for myself, my family, my church, my Presbytery, and my denomination.

I present this as an encouragement to you to look at ways you can fold "mindless" activities together with Scripture memorization and prayer. This is not a mandate, not a competition, not a "look at how much holier I am than you" ploy. It is only to encourage you, especially for those who have wondered how to retain God's Word and let it soak your mind and heart. The following are suggestions that I draw from my own practice (but they are only suggestions):

  • Start Small: Take a 3x5 card, a good, dark pen, and write out a verse your heart is really set on. Make sure to put down it's address (you know, like Psalm 23.1; or Romans 6.23). Write out the verse large enough that you can see it at arms length, and write it dark enough you can see it easily, especially in twilight. Don't create a stack of verses, start small. Start with one or two, and at most, three. As you get used to these verses, you can add slowly to them. Think long term.
  • Stay Settled: If you run on a treadmill, or use a stationary bike, or walk 30 minutes in the neighborhood, or run in the great outdoors, always take your cards with you. Go through them two or three times on your run/walk/ride. Stick with it day after day, week after week. Take time to think through the verse. And then let it lead your prayer while you're out-and-about. Before you know it, you will not only be "getting it" but you will find yourself enjoying the fellowship with God in a different way.
  • Stack Scripture: As your reservoir of verses grows, start arranging them. You can arrange them in various ways - I've done all of these: (1) If you use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, or the New City Catechism, arrange them around each catechism question and answer. (2) In a similar fashion, stack them topically - all the verses that specifically describe God; those that tell you something about Jesus; the ones that explain more about the Holy Spirit; those that encourage Prayer; the ones that fill out Justification and Sanctification, etc. (3) You can also group together verses from the same Bible book so that you begin to keep together the flow of a particular section of Scripture. Over time, you will start seeing how this makes recall easier, but also you'll begin to notice you have a better grasp on what the Bible is saying.

I hope you find this helpful, and that it gives those who wanted help a boost. I also hope that maybe it inspires some who have never imagined doing anything like this a desire to take this up. Have fun with it; enjoy God in it; delight in Jesus through it; and commune with the Holy Spirit while doing it. 

(1) As you succeed in doing this, come back and tell me about it in the comments so we can rejoice together. (2) If you have found other ways beneficial and they have worked for you, put those in the comments too so others can see and get encouraged.

Pastor Mike

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