In our communion service today we read from Deuteronomy 17, where God instructs his people about the disciplines that any King of Israel should adhere to. Among these is the injunction to make a copy of the Law:
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
What what struck us was the injunction that the king is ‘to write for himself’ a copy of the law. No mean task in those days. Why not simply have a scribe copy it for him? Why not just have a copy in the royal library for successive kings to use? The answer it would seem, is that the king is not just to know the law, or refer to it, but rather he is to internalise it. To be familiar with it in as full a manner as possible to. To ‘own’ it, by virtue of writing it in his own hand.
The practice of keeping a journal comes to mind when thinking about this passage. Keeping a journal – writing ones prayers, thoughts and meditations as one reads, and interacts with Scripture has 4 benefits I can think of.
- It causes us to stop; writing takes time, and spiritual growth requires time
- It causes us to reflect; to ask questions of ourselves and God’s Word.
- It gives us encouragement – as we read back over previous entries we see God’s hand in our lives.
- It gives us a sense of perspective as we read back over troubles times and answered prayer.
Not sure how to start?
- Buy a notebook – doesn’t have to be expensive but you’ll want to write in it
- Plan a time to pray and write – 10 mins a day? Half an hour a week.
- Plan a place to write, it’s easier if you write in a regular place at a regular time
- Keep going. We all struggle with this, not everyone clicks straight away, but one of our older members has been keeping a journal for many, many years.
- Read the Scriptures, stop, pray, write – about your insights, your questions, your hopes, fears, anything really…
- Reflect, take time to read back over previous entries.