If you are like me you have access to multiple copies of Scripture. There are several physical Bibles in our house. On my smartphone and tablet, I have YouVersion and a few other Bible apps. I have a couple of Bible programs on my computer and can easily access several websites which have the Bible available (biblegateway.com, bible.com, etc.). We live in a day when the Bible is readily available.
Why Should We Memorize Scripture?
With the Bible being so accessible, why should we be concerned with memorizing Scripture? It is not memorization for the sake of memorization. It is not like committing useless hockey states to memory. We want to memorize Scripture because it will help our faith. Consider a few things which are helped with memorizing God’s word:
- It helps to build our faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
- It shapes our world view. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
- It arms us to overcome temptation. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11).
- It enables us to detect error. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
- It allows us to meditate on Scripture. “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:148).
It’s Not Just Memorization – It’s About Abiding…
Memorizing Scripture is more than committing verses to memory. In fact, John focused on the connection between God’s word and our relationship with God. Notice:
- John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To abide in His Word we must know it. Abide means to live in or reside. We should be intimately acquainted with God’s will because it will benefit us greatly.
- John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Answered prayer! If His words abide in us then we’ll pray for things we ought to. This is not a “health & wealth gospel” verse – there’s no such thing. We must know God’s will and pray for it to happen.
- 1 John 2:14, “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” God’s word will give us strength to overcome the enemy, but if His word does not abide in us, how can we be strong and overcome?
- 1 John 2:24, “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” If God’s word abides in us, then we abide in Him!
Dealing With The Excuses…
There are many excuses (not reasons) we might give for not memorizing Scripture.
- It’s too hard! It is difficult. You need to remember what it says and where it is. That is hard, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Seldom are worthwhile things easy, but we will reap great rewards.
- I have a poor memory! Join the club! Ask my wife and she will tell you about my memory. Repetition is important. The more we look at something, the more acquainted we’ll be with it. That may require looking at it over and over. Is that an issue? We should look at God’s word often. Using memory tools and triggers will help also (ie. John 3:16 & 1 John 3:16; page location; keywords; etc.). We remember things that are important to us – birthdays, directions, favourite songs, etc.. We need to favour God’s word and work on remembering it.
- I don’t have time. If so, then you are too busy. We’re not talking about devoting 6 hours a day to remembering verses. This is about consistently studying our Bible and having it on our minds. It is about taking a single text at a time and writing it upon our hearts.
- I can just look it up. You’re right, but what are we telling God if we say we’ll just look it up when we need it? We do that with trivia facts. Some people are a wealth of useless facts. Why not decide to be a wealth of useful instruction? A verse in our heart is more valuable than a verse in the hand.
Working On Memorization….
So, how do we go about working on memorizing things from God’s word?
- Make it meaningful. That’s not to say there are junk verses in Scripture. Every verse is there for a reason, but some are impractical to memorize. We want useful and usable Scripture in our minds, not genealogies and other obscurities. For instance, 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 is much more practical than verses 7-8. There are great lessons for us in these verses.
- Don’t get bogged down with citing texts verbatim. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay attention to the wording of a verse. Do our best to learn it as it is written, but understand, the wording differs slightly from one translation to another. If you have learned texts in one translation and then switched to a different translation, then you know the struggle of citing a text verbatim. I may be in the minority, but I’d rather folks know the content of a verse and miss a word than focus on citing it verbatim and not understanding it.
- Listen to an audio Bible. Can you listen to music at work? If so, why not trade the music for an audio Bible? As you hear God’s word regularly it will get into your mind. While driving in your car, at the gym, or cooking, if there is an opportunity, listen to the Scriptures.
- Write it down. Memorization is aided if we see it, hear it, and write it down. Deuteronomy 6:9 reads, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates” (cf. Deuteronomy 11:20). I suspect the text was intended to be figurative, not literal, but why not do it physically? It will serve as a memory tool.
May the Lord bless us as we work on memorizing His word.