In the last two weeks, I have taken time to lay out the benefits of internalizing the Bible and the general “how-to” guidelines for internalizing verses, whole chapters, and whole books. Several years ago, when I wrote Falling in Love with God’s Word, I included an entire chapter on what not to do when internalizing. Rather than paraphrase it, I thought I’d just give you the whole chapter (so you can avoid the mistakes I made when I first started internalizing).
NOTE: The rest of this post originally appeared in the chapter “Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Do When I Am Internalizing Scripture?” in my book Falling in Love with God’s Word.
I have spent most of this book encouraging you to incorporate various practices that will integrate Scripture Internalization into your study of the Bible. There are, however three “don’ts” of Scripture Internalization.
Don’t forget the message.
Sometimes it is easy to become so focused on getting the words in the right order, that we forget the point of the passage.
Always remember: The goal is to know the Word, not just the words.”
It is vitally important to work at keeping the message fresh.
One way to accomplish this is to keep the emotion in the passage as you internalize. Continue to read out loud, and see and hear the characters speaking and interacting. It is very easy to bear down on the words and allow them to become void of emotion. Avoid this at all costs!
The more alive the Living Word is to you, the easier it will be to remember the words.
Another tool for keeping the message fresh is to make sure that every week or so you take a break from the detail-oriented nature of Scripture Internalization (and Finish Work for that matter) and spend a day going back to Foundational Reading. Taking a day away from the process of internalization to simply enjoy the story or letter makes it much easier to internalize when you come back to it the following day.
Don’t worry about chapter/verse breakdowns until after you know the words.
First of all, you need to decide if knowing the chapter and verse references is important to you. I have decided that knowing the chapter where I can find a verse is important, but knowing all the specific verse references is less important. If someone wants to know where to find the story of “Jesus Feeding 5000 People” or “The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus,” I want to be able to point them to John 6 and John 11. I find it less crucial to say, “John 6:1-15 and John 11:1-44.”
I do know several people however who find it extremely important to know the verses as well as the chapters. You simply need to decide how specific you want to get. Whichever you choose, the most important thing is to internalize in the correct order:
Then individual stories/thoughts…
If you follow this pattern – which is built into this entire Bible study process – you will find that knowing the chapters simply comes with moving through Foundation, Framing, and Finish Work. Learning the verse references will need to be an extra step you add on if you deem that to be important.
Don’t try to internalize something you do not know.
Now, this might seem obvious if you are weaving Scripture Internalization into your study of an entire book. However, there may be times when you want to learn an individual verse or paragraph that has special meaning for you. My encouragement at times like these is to make sure you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the surrounding context.
Let’s say you want to learn II Peter 1:3-4:
HIS DIVINE POWER HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM WHO CALLED US BY HIS OWN GLORY AND GOODNESS. THROUGH THESE HE HAS GIVEN US HIS VERY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES, SO THAT THROUGH THEM YOU MAY PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE AND ESCAPE THE CORRUPTION IN THE WORLD CAUSED BY EVIL DESIRES.”
Before learning these verses, it will be extremely helpful for you to take even a few days and apply the Foundational Reading techniques to II Peter. As you become a bit more familiar with the letter, you will find that even these two verses hold greater meaning for you because you know the context in which they were written.
Who knows? You might even find yourself making II Peter the next book you choose to study and internalize!