Just this past month I accomplished something I would have previously never thought possible–I memorized the Book of James in its entirety. It was a challenge posed to me by a Beth Moore study on the book of James that the ladies in our church are working on. To be honest with you, when Beth (yes, I call her Beth because after doing many of her studies you really feel as if you know her) first challenged us with this, I thought to myself, “yeah, right!” You see, I used to be at least kind of smart and was great at memorizing lots of stuff. That was before I had kids. When my oldest son was born, followed by 4 siblings in just as many years, my brain felt as if it had turned to mush. Sure, I have done a number of Bible studies in the past decade, but haven’t done much memorization at all other than a verse here or there.
So, like I said, my first reaction to even the thought of memorizing the Book of James was not so enthusiastic. Anyway, I started in on the study, attending our Bible study group and tackling the homework portion. I found myself starting to say the first few verses of Chapter 1 to myself without really even thinking about it.
” Hmmm….maybe I’ll attempt just the first chapter.”
Surely that is enough of a challenge and can benefit me. As Beth would say, “a little word is better than no word.” Well, I started to seriously work on James 1 and flew through all of it and was into chapter 2 by the end of the first week. Whoa. Okay, maybe I can do all of it.
I prayed something like,” Lord, can you help me out here? I would like to do this, but cannot do it by myself. Please help me to be disciplined enough to see this through. Amen.”
Well, the Lord got a hold of me and I became a memorizing machine. Chapter 2 was soon a breeze, followed by 3, and so on. There were a few small sections where I always got a little tripped up and would need to peek, but other than that it somehow just flowed for me. Amongst my many daily interruptions, the Lord somehow always provided a bit of quiet time every day for me to diligently pursue this.
So, what’s my point? And what recommendatons or tips do I have?
First off is this: If I can do it, so can you. Most everyone I know is pretty busy, including myself. On a daily basis I have what seems to be a million thoughts and details cluttering my mind, not to mention all the little people that depend on me for lots of things. Again, if I can do it, so can you! Really.
Second: Pace yourself. Sure, you may not do it in a month like I did. In fact, Beth recommends stretching it out much longer than that. For some reason this happened quickly for me, but that may just sound nuts to you. That’s OKAY. If you’re in the word every day that is awesome. I usually worked on it for about 20 minutes a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. It is so worth it. You wouldn’t believe how many times the words of James come to mind and I catch myself saying verses in my head over a situation.
Third: Commit to it. This isn’t something you can half-heartedly do all that well. You need to decide to do it and commit to seeing it through. Set small goals for yourself and take it piece by piece.
Fourth: Say it out loud. There’s an article written by Beth’s daughter Melissa about how when James was written, a large percentage of the population was illiterate and there weren’t lots of copies of scripture just floating around. The people most likely would have heard these words spoken out loud. Speaking God’s word out loud on a daily, consistent basis has been a wonderful experience for me. I would literally walk around the house or even outside with my Bible open to James and would say my verses (without trying to peek). Oh yes–my husband, my kids, my dog, and whoever was walking by would get to hear and see me talking to myself. I’m sure I looked a little crazy, but I think it’s a good kind of crazy 😉
Fifth: Find a translation that is comfortable for you. No, I don’t use the word comfortable to mean that James will give you the “warm and fuzzies.” James does not mince words, no matter what translation you are reading from. He gets to the point and if you’re not feeling convicted through most of it, you’re either a way better person than I am or you aren’t focusing on his words. What I mean is that you need to find a translation that is most comprehensive and flows the best for you. I’m an NIV girl, so that is what I used.
Sixth: Set small goals. As you reach each one, push yourself to go a little further the next time. When reciting my verses, I would most always start from the top. That is, I would start at James 1:1 and go until I reached the verses that were my current goal.
So, those are my main recommendations based on my own personal experience. I am by no means an expert as this was the biggest passage I’ve ever done before. I can say without a doubt that every minute spent in memorizing these words was hands down worth it. After memorizing I am eagerly looking forward to digging into these scriptures even more and applying them to my life. As I said before, James is full of challenging and convicting stuff. But it’s good stuff. Sometimes we need a good “kick in the pants” so to speak (or at least I do).
Blessings to you all,