Ash Wednesday

 1Blessings on this Ash Wednesday

If you forgot that Lent starts today, I hope you didn't already have your morning coffee, donuts, ham and eggs, and cigarette. But if you have, never fear (except if you had that cigarette- seriously, you should stop for the next 40...decades) because I have an idea.

Memorize Scripture

If you remember, I started memorizing the book of 1 John in January- on Sunday, January 23, to be exact. I decided to memorize two verses a day; I calculated the days and then added 10% (to give myself a bit of "wiggle room.") 2My projected end date was March 16 (next Wednesday, which was convenient because we all know that 3:16 is the magic number.)

If I'm diligent this week, I will actually end up finishing the book of 1 John on 3Friday. This actually means I will have finished 1 John in 41 days!  Now, 1 John has 105 verses, so technically at the rate of 2 a day it becomes 52.5 days, but if you hustle a bit and memorize an extra verse here and there (and also remember that there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter), it's totally feasible to finish memorizing a book of the Bible between now and Easter.  Also, a number of the epistles are significantly shorter than 1 John, so feel free to pick one of those if you want.

The Technique

You should take a look at this guide because there are a lot of tips and wisdom in it. The guide also has a list of how many verses are in each book, if you decide to go with something shorter (or longer!) than 1 John.

Basically, it goes like this:
1) Figure out how many verses to do each day and write it on a calendar. (If you use my scheme, it will be approx. 2 verses a day in approx. 41 days.)
2) Day 1: read your two verses 10 times. Then recite it memorized 10 times.
3) Day 2: Recite yesterday's verses 10 times. Read today's verses 10 times. Recite today's verses 10 times. Recite all the verses starting from Day 1 together, once. (On Day 2, this means reciting Day 1's and Day 2's verses. On Day 3, this means reciting Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3's verses.)
4) Repeat Day 2's steps until you finish. By the end, you will be reciting the entire book in one siting.


Here are some common objections that I've heard to memorizing Scripture and my response to each:
I'm not that smart. It's not about smartness, it's about repetition. I bet you know most of the words to The Day the Music Died. Do you know how freaking long that song is??? And you didn't even sit down to memorize it. (Presumably.)
No, seriously, I'm not that smart. Then use the same technique used to memorize 1 John and study the verses instead. Instead of repeating 10 times and memorizing 10 times- repeat the verses 20 times and focus on each word, the meaning of the words, sentence structure, and paragraph structure- these are the types of things you'll notice if you actually memorize the book. (It's a great study, and you'll be surprised how much you actually pick up. This way, you can alleviate some of the pressure and just spend time in the Word.)
This sounds like a lot of time and energy commitment. Well...yes. But I'm a law student. If something is important enough, then you can manage. Trust me. Plus, it's Lent, and Lent is about sacrificing our Selves and devoting ourselves to God.  (To be fair, around chapter 3 I stopped my daily Bible reading plan to focus on this because it took a lot of time.)
I haven't memorized Scripture since AWANA. And that was years ago. Well, sounds like it's a good time to start! The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Gotta start somewhere. Start with 1 John 1:1-2 today.  :)

If you have any questions about memorizing a book of the Bible, drop a comment, and I'll get back to you. (And I promise to be nicer to you than the comments above. I don't actually talk to people people I'm not very close to like that in real life.)

And if you  don't want to memorize 1 John, choose a book that has personal meaning to you.  Or, make a list of passages that you want to memorize: armor of God?  the love chapter?  the 10 Commandments?  The goal is to be in the Word and hide His word in our hearts.


I don't think there's *one thing* you have to do for Lent.  This is just a suggestion.  Or that Lent participation is even mandatory; at the same time, it's not a bad idea. It's not restricted to Catholics or Anglicans or Lutherans, and for those of you who may be liturgi-phobic, just think about it as a "you and God" thing as your prepare heart for Easter.

For me, I always try an affirmative rather than (or in addition to) a negative. Personally, cutting out sweets would be difficult, but won't make me actually focus on Christ. For my practically-vegetarian friend, cutting out meat doesn't make any difference at all. That's why we decided to do something positive (which usually inherently involves an element of self-denial) and make sure that whatever we're denying is actually something that will make us think about our sin and the cross.

(As an aside, technology fasts are rather effective, especially when paired with some sort of affirmative spiritual discipline.  The LeechBlock addon for Firefox cmes highly recommended, and you can use it to re-route to Youversion, Biblegateway, or a site of your choice.)

Lent, or any spiritual discipline is what you make of it.

Do you "do" Lent (or don't do it?) Why? If you have, how have past Lenten seasons benefited you? If you don't do Lent, do you do anything else specifically to prepare your heart for Easter?

(Footnotes after the jump)

1. I'm actually not sure what you're supposed to say on Ash Wednesday. I come from a Protestant background and never went to a liturgical church. For other Protestants who are wondering, years ago, I wrote a blurb on why I became a "Pro-Lent Protestant;" I should revamp that and post it sometime.
2. The math doesn't entirely work out because I miscounted the days, but after I re-calculated I decided to stick with the same end date.  I also didn't stick with a strict 2-verse a day scheme but instead grouped the verses that made sense.
3.I'm a little hesitant to share this prematurely, but since 1) today's Ash Wednesday, 2) I didn't realize that memorizing 1 John would be feasible during Lent before this Monday, and 3) by that time it was too late to speed up and finish before this post went live, I decided to share in hopes that this would be a benefit to you.  Just don't congratulate me yet XD