Scripture memorization is out of style, yet I believe that it is as important now as ever that Christians participate in this regular discipline. David wrote “and on His law he meditates day and night,” about the man who would be blessed of God (Psalm 1). Good folks have written on the topic and made videos. (I encourage you to click the links in that previous sentence.)
I have very little interest in repeating what a lot of good folks have already said, so here are some basic thoughts I have about Scripture memory for you to ponder in your own walk.
Do You Even Memorize, Bro?
Have you made the intentional work of committing God’s Word to memory something you strive for as a regular discipline? Why not? What excuses have you made?
- “I’m not detail-oriented; I think in high levels/summary.”
- “I’m just not good at memorizing things.”
- “Don’t put your yoke on me, man.”
- “I don’t have time.”
These are just a few of the excuses I’ve heard, and I don’t buy any of them. Scripture memorization being difficult for you is all the more reason you should strive to do it! And I don’t think it’s an unnecessary or legalistic yoke to place on you, as the Scripture itself is full of references which can only be rightly interpreted as requiring memorization. How do you expect to meditate on God’s Word day and night if you don’t have it in your heart? How shall a young man keep his way pure when he encounters temptation? Jesus quoted Scripture from memory in the wilderness, let him be your example.
I agree that Scripture memorization can be a struggle. It does require a time commitment. And I won’t lie, that time commitment may start at 10 minutes a day, but as you memorize more Scripture, and need to review, that time commitment only grows. This is a hurdle we all must make it over if we are to get to know God’s Word.
Scripture memory never seems very urgent either; at least not in the USA. I have access to dozens of Bible versions every second of the day with computers and smartphones. I can type a few words into Google and rather quickly get Bible passages returned which match those words. The lack of urgency makes prioritizing memorization something that takes real fortitude. I have to ask myself, “May there come a time I do not have this quick access to the Bible? Or any access? What part of the Bible do I want to have memorized for a time like that?”
How shall a young man keep his way pure when he encounters temptation? Jesus quoted Scripture from memory in the wilderness, let him be your example. Click To TweetFinally, Scripture memory can be a situation that entices our pride. Once you start memorizing Scripture, you may be tempted to be prideful about how much more Scripture you’ve memorized than others. This may deter you. I urge you to deal with the pride issue immediately and then proceed with memorization. But this same idea makes it a hard thing to talk about. Most folks who advocate for Scripture memory are folks who are doing it. So when someone like me writes a post like this, people may accuse me of pride. That can make a guy like me not even want to talk about the topic.
The fact is that some of us are further along than others in various disciplines, and we ought all be gracious to one another in this (and every) area of virtue for which we strive.
Here are a few practical benefits of memorizing Scripture.
- Evangelism becomes easier as you can recall key passages while teaching someone about Christ. Apologetics done while evangelizing is better because you are referring to Scripture in your responses to questions.
- Counseling is more effective as you give wisdom to your friend, spouse, coworker, child, or whomever from God’s Word. When someone you know needs encouragement, there is no better encouragement to a blood-bought soul than the Words of Him who shed His blood for them.
- Your prayers will be more biblical as you find yourself praying like Jesus and Paul. You will be more aligned with God’s will as your prayers are conformed to Scripture.
- Preaching must be full of Scripture. So for you who do not preach from a manuscript, your mind being filled with God’s Word will result in God-glorifying preaching from the inerrant Word, rather than your own best thinking. Great sermons are often the result of synthesizing varieties of Bible references on a topic. You will also feel more confident in your preaching if you know that you didn’t stray from what God has said.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
A Few Ideas
Now that you are committed to memorizing Scripture, let me give you some tips on how to proceed.
Select an entire chapter or book of the Bible to memorize. I know; I know; it sounds impossible. I thought so, too. Until I caught wind of a “memorize 1 Peter challenge.” I signed up and was blessed greatly as I memorized 1 Peter (only 105 verses) over the course of about 20 weeks. I am now able to instantly recall the context of any Bible verse someone quotes or refers to from 1 Peter, and that has blessed me more than memorizing a verse here or a verse there has over the course of my Christian life.
Jude is 25 verses. A lot of chapters of the Bible are not very long.
Isaiah 53 is only 12 verses. You could work on only 2 verses per week and have that wonderful chapter hidden in your heart in 6 weeks.
Many psalms are less than 25 verses. Psalm 117 is 2 verses. No rule says you have to memorize Romans! You can do all the one chapter books of the NT then every psalm which is 10 verses or less. Just do something!
Get the Help You Need
Smartphone apps are excellent for helping remind you to memorize Scripture and memorizing Scripture. I have used a free app called Verses, but it was missing some much-needed features and now I am a happy promoter of Bible Memory. Bible Memory (formerly Scripture Typer) lets you memorize 50 verses for free. So you can see if you like the app and will use it before buying it. Use the link to the left to save 20% off your purchase of a license.
Getting the Bible on audio and listening to the passage you are working on over and over helps. Also, recording it yourself and listening is very good, too!
Memorizing with a group is an effective way to memorize as it provides accountability, but it also helps you as you test your friend! I have found wonderful encouragement in a Facebook group for memorization as well, along with lots of good tips from folks who’ve been memorizing long before I even became a Christian! Here’s a link to the group “Scripture Memory Encouragement and Help.”
Photo by Sydney Rae on Unsplash
Be Patient with Yourself and Don’t Quit
Accept the fact that you will have bad days and bad weeks memorizing. I have had times I went to test a well-known passage and totally flubbed it. While it is OK to be disappointed, do not let that disappointed keep you from persevering. You won’t learn more Scripture by beating yourself up about it.
Test yourself regularly. Look for opportunities to recite passages you are working on. Try using different senses to memorize: sight and hearing. Make memorization your goto thing to do when you reach for your phone to check social media, set reminders, do whatever it takes to persevere! Set goals for yourself and then adjust as necessary.