We can too often neglect the practical purpose and effect of Scripture. George Verwer, founder of OM, used to say: “It’s not so much our need to get into the Word, but we need God’s Word to get into us.” If we take the trouble to memorise, we will find ourselves meditating on it in spare moments. And, if we meditate, we will find it easier to pray in spare moments also.
Store God’s Word in your heart and it will come to the surface at strategic moments.
Recently my little grandson Rufus was born in St. Mary's hospital, Paddington. His West-Aussie mother graciously allowed me to cradle him in my arms. "May I offer a prayer of thanks to God?” I asked. Both parents agreed it was OK. "Thank you Father, for this new life! 'The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.' May this child grow up to be a mighty force for good, through all the difficulties and pressures of life, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen."
It was easy for me to recall Psalm 37:23, which I quoted while praying. Notice some features of this verse which for me, made it ‘AV4ever’ – easy on the memory. First, the verse has metre, which gets under the skin and into the subconscious. The metrical sequence of syllables is 12 (line 1), 8 (line 2), 12 (line 3) and 10 (line 4). Do the maths, and you’ll understand. All the numbers are divisible by two (2), and most of them are divisible by four (4). It’s as easy as singing to a 2/4 or a 4/4 time signature. Once learn the groove and it’s hard to unlearn it. Second, it has assonance and consonance, a pleasing harmony of sound. The same dental letters are stressed throughout – note the t and the d: steps, good, ordered, LORD, delighteth, not, utterly, cast down, upholdeth, and hand. The mind loves to put things tidily together if they belong together, not least in the way we use words.
The translators of the KJV lovingly crafted each word and each letter, so their work would be ‘theAV4ever.’ They deliberately made it memorable, so the words would stick like burrs in the minds of the illiterate - of which there were many! The Scottish Psalter later made it singable in metrical form online in the daily Quiet Time.
“Thy Word have I hid in my heart,” the Psalmist said, “that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119: 11). Whether we are old or young, we are wise if we follow his example. No doubt Jesus enjoyed memorising Scripture - even if, strictly speaking and unlike us, he didn’t always need to do that -He had a unique resource!