How Memorization Revolutionized My Spiritual Life

stage-fright1Connecting With God, Part 5

(To read Part 1, click here)

I’ve been acting ever since the 6th Grade Talent Show. So you’d think I’d be pretty good at memorization.

Nope.

Memorization was always the thorn in my theatrical side, and the cause of a couple of serious on-stage meltdowns. So when, in the fall of 2013, I was offered the talky lead role in an independent film, The Do-Over,* I gleefully pumped my fist, and then went and had a panic attack.

Just days before filming began,“Father Abraham” popped into my head. Not the Jewish patriarch, but the kid’s song of the same name, famous for its silly gestures. So I began making up goofy hand signals to go with my lines—not to perform on film, godforbid, just to help with the memorization process.

It worked! First day on set, my leading lady, a wonderful actress named Christine Jones, said, “You are so good at memorization!” and I snorted. But by the time shooting ended, I’d actually begun to think of myself as a good memorizer! (I’d heard that most people were visual learners, but had never thought to make memorizing words a visual process.)

563Meanwhile, I was struggling through yet another dry spell in my prayer life, when that still small voice whispered, “Ahem, Father Abraham.”

Could memorizing and meditating upon Scripture positively impact my prayer life?

The Bible is full of statements about the benefits of burying God’s word deep in our consciousness:

  • “I have hidden (‘treasured’ or ‘stored’) your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
  • “Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, not merely hearers.” James 1:21-22
  • “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3

For years I’d savored the complex flavors of God’s word, but had never made it a true meal, the food I lived on! It was time, I realized, to start hiding God’s word in my heart, implanting it in my mind! And now with my memorization issue resolved, I no longer had a reason not to try.

I began reading with an eye for My Verses, passages I felt led to memorize. As new verses made their way onto my prayer plate, I began noticing that they weren’t just filling empty space on my mental hard drive, they were displacing falsehoods and deceptions I still unconsciously believed. Submarines rise to the surface by displacing water with air. Spiritual growth is also a kind of displacement. It is, as Rick Warren puts it, “the process of replacing lies with truth.” Filling ourselves with truth enables us to rise above the surface of a lie-polluted world. (Nothing short of God-given truth can accomplish this—man-made platitudes always digress into leaden recitations.)

My spiritual life has been revolutionized! I no longer struggle to maintain meaningful prayer. With this God-given grid in place, I look forward to viewing each day from God’s perspective. I pray My Verses, using them as jumping off points to talk about the day, to pray for others, to hear God’s living word, that still small voice, and to reflect upon the written word embedded in my heart!7896

Could this be a step God is calling you to take?

Next: Connecting with God, Part 6

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

*Now retitled Promises to Keep and due for release in 2017.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to How Memorization Revolutionized My Spiritual Life

  1. Pingback: Everything I Need to Know I Could Have Learned in Sunday School (But Didn’t) | Mitch Teemley

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  3. Awesome post! Neat style of writing, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    SO glad I backtracked in your posts to this one! First, I agree with Dorothy, above. Your writing style is such a pleasure to read. Second, you’ve presented some life-changing ideas here: 1. Reading scripture with the purpose (among others) of finding “MY verses” brings such wonderful anticipation to opening its pages. 2. Allowing scripture to displace lies with truth brings peace of mind, confidence of spirit, and wisdom for the day. 3. Praying the scriptures increases the power of our requests (Isaiah 55:11). Thank you, Mitch, for sharing this glimpse into the power of your prayer life!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mitchteemley says:

    Thank you, dear Nancy!

    Like

  8. Akhila says:

    This is an excellent post…As you told, this is a step God is calling you to take

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    Real change happens from the inside out.

    Like

  10. I’m not good at memorizing either and also, worked hard to memorize portions of the Bible. If I ‘sing’ them, it helps and KJV is easier for me to memorize, even though it is harder to understand, because it is more like poetry or prose. Still…those memorized words can get shifted in my mind over time, I need daily manna to keep it fresh.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I write about my struggle with being quiet and still so I can hear God’s whisper…that still small voice. Thank you for sharing your walk of faith and for this very inspirational post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. davidkitz says:

    Mitch, I have often said that putting actions with words greatly helps me in memorizing scripture. I do public dramatizations of the Psalms and the Epistle of James. Without actions and emotion they are flat platitudes. I fully agree that the memorized word transforms your thinking every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As always, you inspire me, and teach me. I will put this into practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. dawnlizjones says:

    Honestly, I hate memorizing…anything. Okay, here I go. Do you describe anywhere the strategy of visual memorizing?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: How Memorization Revolutionized My Spiritual Life | Expectational

  16. cathyzm says:

    This subject has been on my mind lately. Years ago I thought to my self, why can I memorize rhymes and jump rope songs but not scripture? I thought maybe the enemy was whispering to me that I’m stupid, so I wouldn’t try harder. I prayed and asked God to help me. Now I do pretty well with writing on index cards and keeping them handy.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. scheidison says:

    Good post, Mitch. The other cool thing I’ve experienced with memorization is that the verses come to the surface of your mind when you need them. We give the Holy Spirit more material to help us with.

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. Thanks for this post, Mitch. I think memorization is so key to our spiritual lives, I wish the Bible were recited as often as it is read in church services. That demonstrates someone making it a priority. Plus the power of delivery is so much stronger than reading, I think it brings the Scripture alive for people.

    Liked by 1 person

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