Don’t Forget: The Spiritual Discipline of Remembering

How many of the seven dwarves can you name? How about kids from the Brady Bunch? States that begin with the letter m? Or, if Bible trivia is your thing, can you list all twelve disciples? Or the twelve tribes of Israel?1

What about spiritual disciplines? How many of those could you name? Of course, there’s prayer and Bible study, fasting, giving, and Scripture memory. Depending on how you define them, you could probably come up with a few more. But today I want to consider one that may not have made your list: the discipline of remembering. Scattered throughout Scripture we find not a suggestion to remember, but a command:

  • “Then Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day when you came out of Egypt’” (Ex. 13:3).
  • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8).
  • “Remember, and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God in the wilderness” (Deut. 9:7).
  • “Remember what Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you when he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest, and he will give you this land’” (Josh. 1:13).
  • “So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called ‘the uncircumcised’ by those called ‘the circumcised,’ which is done in the flesh by human hands. At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:11–12).

The Word is clear. We must remember. Remember who we were. Remember who God is, what He has done, and what He has promised. The reason is obvious. We must remember because we’re prone to forget. But remembering these things is about more than just sharpening your memory. 

Remembering Keeps Your Heart Soft 

But our ancestors acted arrogantly; 
they became stiff-necked and did not
listen to your commands.
They refused to listen 
and did not remember
your wonders 
you performed among them. 
They became stiff-necked and
appointed a leader 
to return to their slavery in Egypt. 
But you are a forgiving God, 
gracious and compassionate, 
slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, 
and you did not abandon them.
—Nehemiah 9:16–17, emphasis added

As Nehemiah addresses exiles who have recently returned to Israel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, he reminds them of how their fathers ended up in exile. Despite the many warnings in the Pentateuch not to forget, forget they did. As a result, their hearts became hard and their necks stiff. 

The same is true for you and me. 

Remembering the works, word, and character of the Lord keeps our hearts soft before Him. It fights against the lies of the enemy that work so hard to calcify our hearts in stubborn forgetfulness. Regular reminders of God’s perennial faithfulness to you, your family, and to His people for millennia serve to give us hearts that are tender in His hand, yielded to His work of conforming us to the image of His Son. 

Remembering Lifts Your Despondent Heart (Psalm 77)

Though we are given no historical context for the writing of Psalm 77, we know that it was written by Asaph, a temple musician in David’s kingdom. This psalm of lament gives us a window into Asaph’s heart—a heart that is just about ready to give up. He’s questioning the character of God and feels that He’s abandoned His people and His promises forever: 

“Will the Lord reject forever and never again show favor?
Has his faithful love ceased forever?
Is his promise at an end for all generations?” —Psalm 77:7–8

Though Asaph does cry out to God, his heart remains despondent and discouraged until verse 11, where things begin to turn around. There Asaph says, “I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember your ancient wonders” (emphasis added). As soon as he sets his mind on remembering God’s faithful works (in this case, the parting of the Red Sea), Asaph’s heart begins to lift. No longer distant and downtrodden, he now can worship and cry out, “God, your way is holy. What god is great like our God?” (v. 13). 

If your heart is downcast today, take time to practice the discipline of remembering. Remember His wondrous love in the gospel. Remember His mighty works in your life, in the life of your family, or recorded in Scripture. Remember His promises to you. Lift your eyes and remember. 

Remembering Impacts the Next Generation (Psalm 78:1–8)

In the very next psalm, Asaph gives us another reason to practice the discipline of remembering. This time, the reason is to impact future generations. “I will declare wise sayings,” Asaph proclaims in verse 2. “I will speak mysteries from the past.” The reason comes a couple verses later: 

So that a future generation—
children yet to be born—might know. 
They were to rise and tell their children 
so that they might put their confidence in God 
and not forget God's works, 
but keep his commands. (vv. 6–7)

Perhaps this reason for remembering seems a little less urgent than the others. After all, Asaph lived in a time of oral tradition. Our society relies heavily on the written word. While I love the written word—both in writing and reading—I do not believe technological advances exempt us from passing on the legacy of God’s faithfulness to our children. We must pass on to our children and their children, the children in our churches and even in our neighborhoods the deeds, character, and promises of God so that they may have confidence in the Ancient of Days.

Do your children know the stories of God’s faithfulness in your life? The times when you had to hit your knees in desperate prayer, and how the Father’s answer exceeded all that you asked or hoped? Could your kids pass on to their kids the stories of God’s goodness to their grandparents or great-grandparents? Perhaps the Christian legacy in your family doesn’t go back that far. That’s okay. But we can begin today, sharing with our kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews the myriad ways that God has repeatedly extended His hand of mercy toward us. 

Remembering Keeps Our Hearts Tethered to the Future (1 Cor. 11:23–26)

The most famous command to remember came just hours before Christ would be arrested, tried, flogged, and crucified. As He partook of the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus commanded them to eat the bread and drink the wine with a new purpose. No longer would they eat and drink to remember the last night their ancestors spent as slaves in Egypt. Now followers of Christ partake in the bread and wine to remember the death of the true and better Passover Lamb—the Lamb of God. “Do this in remembrance of me,” the Savior instructed. But He didn’t end there. Observing Communion includes more than just remembering. Paul tells us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). 

Until He comes. Those last three words are very important.

Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember His sacrifice, but we also look forward to the expiration date of the ordinance. We will not observe it forever—only until He comes again. Whether your church observes the Table weekly, monthly, or quarterly, your remembrance keeps your heart tethered to the certain hope of what the future holds. 

Jesus is going to return. 

He’s going to fulfill perfectly and completely every promise He has made. 

He’s going to win. 

Our hearts need to recall these blessed truths. We must take time to remember. 

Remember to keep your heart soft. 

Remember to lift your despondent heart.

Remember to impact the next generation.

Remember to keep your heart tethered to the future. 

Remember to remember. 

We’re grateful for friends like you who enable Revive Our Hearts to send trusted biblical teaching and content to places all over the world—places like Guadalajara, Mexico! Here at Revive Our Hearts, we’re celebrating all that God did at Mujer Verdadera ’23. Tune in to the Revive Our Hearts podcast today to hear more from Nancy and the team about how God used MV23 to revive the hearts of women from around Latin America and across the world!

Dwarves: Bashful, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc
Brady Kids: Greg, Bobby, Peter, Cindy, Marcia, Jan
States that begin with m: Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana
Disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, Nathanael
Tribes: Reuben, Benjamin, Judah, Levi, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Simeon, Issachar, Dan, Joseph (Ephraim/Manasseh), Zebulun

About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son and daughter, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at

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