Memorizing Scripture

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 Bible programs on my computer and am able to easily access several web sites 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 which is going to help us in our faith. Consider a few things which are helped with memorizing God’s word:

  1. It will help build our faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
  2. It will shape 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).
  3. It will arm us to overcome temptation. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11).
  4. It will enable 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).
  5. It will enable 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…
There’s more to memorizing Scripture than just committing a bunch of verses to memory. In fact, the apostle John focused a lot on the relationship between knowing God’s word and our relationship with the Lord. 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.” How can we abide in the word if we do not know the word? Abide means to live in, to reside in. We need to be intimately acquainted with God’s will. And the great benefit it will give is freedom! Freedom from sin and death.
  • 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 we’ll be praying for things we ought to pray for. NOTE – this is not a health & wealth gospel verse (there are no such verses); this is know God’s will, pray for God’s will, and it will come to pass.
  • 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 is able to give us strength to overcome the enemy. But, if the word of God 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 all kinds of excuses we might give for not memorizing Scripture. NOTE, they are excuses, not reasons.

  • It’s too hard! Is it difficult? Sure. You’ve got to remember what the verse says, what book it’s in, what chapter it’s in, and what verse it’s at. That is hard to do. But the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Seldom are things that are worth having easy to come by. Yes, it’s difficult, but you will reap great rewards.
  • I have a poor memory! Join the club! Just ask my wife, she’ll tell you how bad my memory is. One of the keys to overcoming a poor memory is repetition,. The more we look at something, the more acquainted we’ll be with it. For some that may require looking at it over and over, and over, and over. Is that an issue? We ought to want to look at God’s word time and again. Also, use memory tools and triggers (ie. John 3:16 & 1 John 3:16), location on the page, key words, etc.. We tend to remember things that are important to us. Do you know the lyrics of a favourite song? Do you remember birthdays? Do you know how to get to a favourite spot? We need to make God’s word a favourite 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 Bibles and working to have it on our minds. It is about taking a single text at a time and writing in upon our hearts.
  • I can just look it up. Yup, you’re right. But what are we telling God when we say we’ll just look it up when we need it? Isn’t that what we do with trivia facts? In fact, 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?

  1. Make it meaningful. I don’t mean to say by this that God’s word has any junk verses in it. Every verse is there for a reason. But there are some verses that you simply do not need to commit to memory (See 1 Chronicles 4:7-8 for example). It is not about how many verses we can commit to memory. It is not about memorizing a list of genealogies (do so if you want, though I believe there are much better things to commit to memory). It is about putting practical, usable Scripture in our minds. So, how about 1 Chronicles 4:9-10? Much more practical than verse 7-8. There are lots of great lessons to learn from these verses.
  2. Don’t get bogged down with citing texts verbatim. Verbatim means cite the text word-for-word, exactly as appears in the text. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay attention to the wording of a verse. We should do our best to learn it as it is written, but at the same time, the wording will change slightly from the KJV to the NKJV to the NASB to the ASV to the ESV … you get the picture. Which one is right? All of them are. If you have learned verses in one translation and afterward switched to a different translation, you know the struggle of citing a text verbatim. I may be in a minority on this, 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.
  3. Listen to an audio Bible. If you are in a work setting where you are able to listen to music or such, consider listening to an audio Bible. It will help you to hear God’s word regularly and get it into your mind. While driving in your car, while you are at the gym, when you are cooking – when there’s an opportunity, listen to the Scriptures.
  4. Write it down. Memorization is aided when we see something, when we hear something, and when we 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 application of the text was intended to be a figure rather than literal, but there is no reason it could not be done physically. And in doing so, it serves as a memory tool.

May the Lord bless us as we work on memorizing His word.

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