Drawing from the well – on Scripture memory

As a young girl, I heard testimonies about the benefits of hiding God’s Word in our heart, I like to think that when I need to hear a word from the Lord, I will hear him even if a Bible is not handy, because I have committed His words to memory.  A phrase I heard this morning in the Divine Office podcast reverberates in my mind, and I find it fitting right in with my thoughts on Scripture memory.

Rejoicing, you will draw water from the wells of the Savior.

Psalm 46 is the next passage of Scripture that I am putting to memory.  I memorized this portion of Scripture when I was in a little private Christian school in the fourth or fifth grade.  Every morning, before academics, we would have prayer, siing a song or two, and we would read or recite a portion of Scripture that was chosen for us for the month.  Each day, we were required to memorize one or more verses from the selected passage, and by the end of the month, the passage was committed to memory.  I still have pieces of this one stuck in the far corners of my time worn mind.

Phrases from this chapter have come to me numerous times when I have prayed for God’s help.  Rejoicing, I draw water from the wells of my Savior, I drink them in, and they refresh me.  Like buckets of water, again, He pours out His promises on the parched, dry places of my heart and mind, washing away the doubts and fears that cloud my thinking. And I am clean and refreshed, still before Him, ready for service.

ACT before you ASK – Application tab

When I am finished with the ACT part of my routine, I open up God’s word and use the Divine Office as a reading guide.  It’s fitting (and satisfies my love for order and balance) that this is at the center of my prayer time.  I’ve focused on the Lord, His glory, His names and His attributes; I have examined my conscience and asked the Lord to search my heart and show me any areas I need to address with Him, and I have spent time remembering His acts of mercy and kindness to me.  Now, I can take time to listen for His response.   I love the cadence of the liturgy of the hours, and the way that OT and NT dovetail together to paint a multi-dimensional picture of the gospel.  While listening to and reading Sacred Scripture is a necessary part of hearing and obeying the will of God, the Apostle James warns us not to be hearers only, but to be “doers” of the Word.  How do we do that?

We “become” doers of the Word by applying Scripture to our daily lives; that is, making our walk match what we say we believe about God’s Word.  This is, in my opinion, what Paul meant when he said “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)  One Bible version translates this as “put into practice”.  I love that phrase, because I know that when I struggle with a new skill, I don’t get better at doing it by just reading about it, or by talking about it, or by assenting to its appropriateness, rightness, or goodness.  No, I have never improved a new skill, or new habit, unless I actively participate in developing it, or in a word, practice.

You want a deeper prayer life?  Keep on doing it.
Need to forgive that hateful person who wounded you so deeply?  Keep on doing it.
Need to be more loving, gentle, faithful, generous, etc.?  Keep on doing it.

Paul is instructing us to practice what we learn, and especially if we are going to be telling others what God’s Word says, it is important that our actions match our words.

While you are reading the Scriptures, ask questions, and listen for the answers in your spirit.  This is what I use the “Apply” tab for, peeps.  This is where I record the things I hear whispered in my Spirit while reading or hearing His word.  This is where I make the promises, warnings, and commands of God part of my daily walk.  There are six pages in this section, I find it helpful to break it down in simple steps, and to have a place ready for recording.  Since this is a brand new habit for me, meaning, I am at the very cusp of learning it and incorporating it, my pages are blank, but not for long.

IMG_0758Is there something worthy of meditating on?
Write it down, think on these things!
Is there a promise to claim?
Write it down, thank God for it and claim it!
Is there a warning to heed?
Write it down, BEWARE!  This is a heads up!
Is there a command to obey?
Write it down!  Don’t delay, obey!
Is there a bad habit or negative trait to put off or a healthy one to adopt ?
Write it down!  Put off – put on…just do it!
Is there a good example to follow or a bad example to avoid?
Write it down! Imitate the good and shun the bad.
(I love words, and am especially tickled at how this looks on paper, “imitate-shun” sounds a whole lot like imitation, doesn’t it?

When I am listening for God’s voice, I might have some praise and worship music still playing, or maybe I will be listening to the Divine Office podcast, or reading the Daily Readings quietly.  Whatever it is, I try to listen to what the Lord is saying to my spirit.  Sometimes a word or phrase will stand out, sometimes I will be compelled to DO something, or I will be burdened to pray for someone; sometimes I will hear just the words being read or spoken, and nothing really stands out.

I find the latter to be the case often.  It used to really bother me, I would wonder “why won’t God speak to me?  Is there sin that is separating me from Him?  Are my prayers being hindered?”  I wasted so much time worrying and fretting over just a simple lapse in conversation.    Now when this happens, you know what I do?  I thank Him for the silence.  It’s in these times that I believe He is content just to BE with me.  Really, do you have a friend that you love to talk with?  Do you ever have lapses in conversation?  Of course!  I love the kind of friends that are happy to just hang out with me, even when I don’t have profound things to say.  If we have a friend in Jesus (and when I say “if” I really mean “since”), I believe we have these moments, these seasons even, where God is quiet, and desires us to be quiet as well.   So now, I thank Him for His presence, and for His love, and if I need to, I will flip back to my Adoration or Thanksgiving tab and review ALL the things I have to be thankful for.  I will remember His character, His attributes, and His forgiveness.  I will obey what I heard Him say and I will be still and KNOW that He is God, I will praise Him because He is with me, He loves me and He has good things planned for me.

 ACT before you ASK
Prayer of Consecration

Forty Ideas to Incorporate or Give Up this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Today we remember our station, that we are dust, and one day will return to dust.  It’s a time of personal reflection on the passion of Christ, and the imitation of Him.  It’s also a time of intentional resolve to follow the exhortation of Philippians 2, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The sacrifices we make should be from a heart of obedience, and not for outward show.  In this, we draw near to the heart of God, as obedient children, and have the opportunity to participate in His suffering and death.  The practical application of this participation is denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. We give up things, attitudes, or bad habits that may have taken a place in our hearts that is reserved only for the Lord.  We put these things aside, and work on developing good habits while we nourish our souls.

If you don’t know what to give up for Lent, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas for you to choose from:  If you’e already made your Lenten sacrifice, there’s an idea for each day of Lent for a little extra sacrifice to keep you extra focused.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and would love to hear yours.  Feel free to share your Lenten inspirations with me in the comments.

  1. Spend some time developing your prayer life this Lent.  I’m still adding to and organizing my own prayer journal, and working on making better habits.
  2. Give up social media.  So much time is wasted here.  I’ve actually fasted completely in the past.  This year, I’ll be partially fasting, because of work that requires me to be on social media.  My goal is balance, my plan is to abstain from sun up to sun down, then prioritize the time acquired between work, familly, and ministry. I hope to be able to continue this even after Lent is over.
  3. Television.  Turn. It. Off.  Seriously!  We actually are planning to disconnect cable altogether as soon as this billing cycle ends.  What a waste of money and resources.  It’s just a vast wasteland of mind rot.
  4. Replace TV time with reading a good book.
  5. Read Story of A Soul, or if you prefer, listen to it online.
  6. Give up some sleep.  Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or stay up an extra hour before going to sleep.
  7. Replace sleep time with prayer and/or contemplation.
  8. Learn and pray the Divine Office.  It’s online here.
  9. Give up your telephone.  Turn it off for an hour, or an afternoon, or all day.  Let your voicemail pick up important calls and you can return them later.
  10. Make and send a handwritten greeting card or letter.  Don’t you love to get REAL mail?  Give, and you will receive.
  11. Give up laziness.  When you feel like sitting and relaxing, get up and DO something.  Combat laziness with activity…go for a walk, exercise, garden….
  12. Offer up your hobbies.  We enjoy them, but sometimes they take more time than they should, time away from necessary things, even.
  13. Give up worrying and fretting.  Aint’ nobody got time for that!  Replace it with thanksgiving, and allow His peace to fill your soul.
  14. Memorize Philippians 4:6,7
  15. Pray the Rosary.  If you are a baby Catholic (like me) or are just learning the Rosary, it is helpful to listen and pray along with one of the many youtube videos available.  Check it out, and pick your favorite.
  16. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I prefer to sing it.  This is my favorite version right now.
  17. Give up your pride.
  18. Pray the Litany of Humility
  19. Turn off your electricity for a day and meditate on Jesus being the Light of the World.
  20. Pray for those who do not have electricity for refrigeration, cooking, heating/cooling, and etc.
  21. Give up your favorite Alcoholic drink.
  22. Replace your usual alcohol beverage with water while you meditate Jesus’ first miracle.
  23. Give up caffeine (!)  (I have to admit this one is a huge sacrifice for me, I really, really love and appreciate my morning coffee.  If you can’t give it up completely, what about cutting back and limiting yourself to just one cup instead of half a pot?)
  24. Cut out all sugar and carbs and replace them with healthy alternatives.
  25. Give up one meal.  Offer it up and replace the time with a Rosary for world hunger.
  26. Give up meat.  Try some new meatless meals on another day besides the usual Friday fast.
  27. The ever popular “sweets”.  Give up candy, sodas, desserts, etc.
  28. Give up that second helping.  That dinner was good, and you could easily polish off another plate of it?  Resist.  Offer it up.
  29. Give up salt. Experience the absence of salt while you do a topical study on all the times salt is mentioned in the Bible.  You won’t forget it.
  30. Visit a shut-in
  31. Read Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ 
  32. Did you know Thomas A’Kempis has another beautiful work?  I’m reading The Imitation of Mary this Lent, after finding it in our church’s bookstore.  So far, I don’t see a free version online, but Amazon has them if your church bookstore doesn’t.
  33. Give up your inclination to anger.  When you feel it rising, offer it up, and and look for an opportunity to exercise your compassion.
  34. Memorize Colossians 3:8-13
  35. Give up grumbling and complaining, replace it with thanksgiving.  This requires you to think before you speak, a worthy habit to develop!
  36. Memorize Philippians 2:12-16
  37. Give up shopping for 40 days.  Learn to be content and make do with what’s on hand.
  38. Memorize Hebrews 13:1-6
  39. Give up procrastinating.  Whatever it is you’re putting off, do it, so you can get it done!  You’re not getting any younger.
  40. Memorize Ephesians 5:14-17 — in fact, if you’ve got serious penance in mind, memorize the whole chapter.  It is RICH, isn’t it?