Five Reasons to Memorize Scripture
At the Vacation Bible Club this summer, I was placed in charge of the Scripture memorization station. Children were challenged to memorize verses from the Bible and rewarded with Jolly Rancher candies if they did so.
In case no one is offering you a Jolly Rancher, I want to suggest a few reasons why you might consider Scripture memorization as an on-going discipline to practice in life. Here are five reasons to memorize verses from the Bible.
- Committing Scripture to memory enriches your prayer life. Do you ever feel like you keep saying the same things to God every day? Do you ever wish you had the words in prayer to express more fully the deep longings of your soul? Our prayers can easily become shallow and routine. Praying back God’s word to him is a helpful way to deepen our communication with God by broadening our “prayer vocabulary.” As you commit portions of the Bible to memory you often find yourself praying with more fluency and fervency.
- Memorizing Scripture empowers you in the battle against sin. Jesus battled the devil’s temptations by quoting verses from the Bible that he had committed to memory. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Jesus is not the only one who can do this. A psalmist wrote, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word…. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9, 11) Pastor John Piper has written, “As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.”
- Scripture memory equips you to serve others. We often find ourselves in situations where we are called upon to offer words of comfort or counsel to other believers. At other times, an unbelieving friend might ask us to explain the gospel. Memorizing Scripture equips you in advance to be used more effectively by God in these situations. After all, what will truly help your friend are not your thoughts and ideas. What will meet their needs are the timeless truths of God’s word.
- Memorizing portions of Scripture gives you deeper insight into God’s word. When you reach my age, it is unlikely that two months from now you will be able to recite a verse you memorize today. (Younger minds are much nimbler when it comes to memory recall.) So why bother to memorize Scripture? The process of memorizing portions of the Bible forces me to slow down in my ingestion of God’s word and really think about each term and phrase I am reviewing. I might be walking to the train, quietly rehearsing a psalm I am trying to memorize, and I suddenly find myself understanding the passage in ways I would have missed had I merely read it through once. Perhaps this is what Psalm 1 is calling us to do when it invites us to “meditate” on God’s law.
- Memorizing the Bible puts more “tools” into the Holy Spirit’s “tool box” as he works in your life. Sometimes a believer will find herself in a situation of danger, pain, or fear. Suddenly, without her trying to make this happen, the perfect verse from the Bible will come to mind meeting her needs. Who brings these words to mind? I am convinced that it is the Holy Spirit who does this. But usually the words he uses to help us are words we have memorized (or at least thoroughly studied) in the past. Does this sound strange to you? It has happened to me. Every time you do the work of memorizing parts of the Bible you are planting seeds of truth in your unconscious that the Holy Spirit may one day use to minister to you in a profound way.