A recitation speaks volumes to an audience, helping their understanding of Scripture and moving the listener towards relationship. At the same time, the recitation has a profound impact on the reciters themselves. Find here insights and encouragement from those who have gone before you in reciting Scripture.

My first recitation was Acts 20:28-32 (Be on your guard…) Reciting really made the passage come alive for me as I had to put myself in Paul’s shoes and speak to his people as him! Memorizing scriptures before that really didn’t motivate me much. There were some that I had memorized either because they were important, or oft read, or just easy--but not as a consistent discipline. But that really changed when I recited. It was like God’s hand was on me, it wasn’t onerous or difficult, it was exciting. I was the narrator, I was Paul, I was John, whoever was speaking it was like I was them, in the moment, speaking to their audience. It wasn’t really reciting so much as it was talking to them as they would have. It was reciting in the sense that it was word-for-word, but as I got to know it, I became more and more the person speaking as he would ordinarily speak, not repeating words from rote. The other thing that impressed me and that I try to pass on to reciters and potential reciters is that there are levels of “knowing”. At the first level you can recite the passage for yourself. You get to the point where you don’t stumble, you don’t search for the next word, you know it cold and can confidently recite the whole passage. Then you do it for someone else. Suddenly everything is shaky again and you realize you don’t really know it to the level you need. So, you keep working on it until you can confidently recite and engage with your audience. It has to pour forth from within you. But when you can do it, it is like God is pouring his words into their hearts and you get to be the conduit!

I’ve never enjoyed getting up in front of an audience. Ironically, when I was young, I recall doing Bible memory verses in front of my church, but as I grew older, I was less and less inclined to do it. So, when I was asked to participate in a Scripture recitation, I was not willing. Though I memorize Scripture regularly and strongly believe in the importance of memorizing passages, I wanted to leave the recitations to others. However, after numerous invitations, I eventually felt that I could no longer avoid the inevitable. I knew that for me to refuse again and again to get up in front of the church to recite Scriptures–due to my own vanity and nervousness--was disobedience. I wanted to obey God even if it was uncomfortable. So, I agreed to recite on the condition that I could do it with a friend. Just having another person beside you on stage is comforting. The other confidence-booster for me was “over-memorizing” the passage. Being very prepared takes a lot of the nervousness out of public speaking. It also helped that I had a very kind, patient, and encouraging director.

Doing recitations is always a pleasure for me. I enjoy reciting passages from the Bible mostly for the fact that it forces me to be on a regular schedule with memorizing Scripture. I go over the same passage many hundreds of times in the days and weeks prior to the actual recitation. Sometimes I discover something in a verse, or realize its true meaning for me, after a week or so of studying it! I feel like the Lord often reveals something to me only AFTER it has rolled through my mind dozens of times. The truth is that I go through stretches where I keep up with scripture memorization and stretches where I let it drop, which are always regretful. My spiritual health is always in much better shape when I stay consistent. The real gain for me personally is always in the study leading up to the recitation. But reciting Scripture also makes me feel like I am contributing to the overall message being delivered by the worship team and teaching pastor, which is a good thing.

I always considered memorization a relatively private thing and didn't really want to share in front of the whole body. It was probably encouragement from a couple of friends that brought me to realize that it could be a benefit and an encouragement to the body. I'm still always nervous and even still a little hesitant to do it. I never want to be a show-off and I have a hard time receiving praise from others. I want them to praise God and be blessed by His word being spoken. I’ve done a handful of recitations and have gained an appreciation for presenting God's word and not just reciting it - using all the gifts that He has given me to really showcase the word. One of the things that really blessed me was reciting passages that were monologues or had some dialog in them. I could put myself in the speaker's voice and feel the force of the words from the exhortation of Moses in Deuteronomy 30 to the vitriol of the crowds in Luke 23 to the boldness of Stephen in Acts 7. Another blessing of reciting large passages of scripture was the transformation of otherwise "wasted time". I would memorize during commutes or memorize during long runs while I was training for marathons. Instead of grousing about the commute or wanting to quit on a run, I would get fully absorbed in a passage of scripture. That might seem like a small thing, but the Lord was certainly doing a work on my heart and He redeemed that time.

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