I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
For the last 9 or 10 weeks, I have been slowly memorizing Colossians 3:1-17. Actually, everyone in my Apprentice Group has been memorizing this passage. We started off with verses 1-2. That turned out to be pretty easy. The next week we added 2 more verses which wasn't too terribly difficult. Fast forward to about week 6. By week 6, we should have had about a dozen verses memorized. That was a lot harder. It was kind of fun though because misery loves company and we were all feeling the pressure of trying to learn the first 17 verses of Colossians 3.
I have to admit that this exercise in Bible memorization has been the most intense memorization I've done in years, probably since Bible College. It's harder than I remember it (or maybe I'm just older). All in all, I think it's been a good practice for me and our group. A few of my reflections follow.
Shared disciplines are powerful. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have done this on my own but when 6 people all commit to memorizing the same verses, it provides some extra motivation knowing that you would have to face those folks week after week. It's part of why monks rise early to pray because they know all their brothers are going to be there so they better join them. Peer pressure can be a good thing and in this case, it was a key component to us working hard at learning the assigned verses each week.
It works. Yes, you really can hide God's word in your heart. Not too long after starting this practice, this passage just happened to show up in our Easter liturgy. You can bet we all recognized it right away! I also noticed that these verses often came to mind during the day when I needed to be reminded of them. The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing Scripture we've memorized to mind at just the right time.
Scripture changes us. I don't think one could regularly memorize Scripture without meditating on it. I find myself even now thinking about these verses and what they might mean. As I hide his word in my heart, I am slowly but steadily opening up my heart to the work of the Spirit. I am being purified by the Word.
So, yes, Bible memorization is hard but it's definitely worth it. If you haven't tried it for a while, why not give it a shot?