The Spiritual Discipline of Scripture Memorization

I can still see him in my mind’s eye, almost as clearly as I could every Sunday morning as a young child, from my earliest recollection of Sunday morning worship. Second row, aisle seat. His white hair and beard gave him a wise, sage-like appearance. Weekly, he rose to his feet during sharing time. I remember clearly his faithful testimony to the goodness of God and his love of Scripture. He had clearly dedicated time and energy to its study and valued its input in his life. He testified of how the Word moved him to tears both because of conviction of sin and the ensuing wonder of the love of God. He told many stories of the people he encountered with his trucking job and the opportunities he had to share Christ with them, requesting prayer for their continued hunger for God. His testimony nearly always included a recitation of a significant portion of Scripture.

Although as a child I got weary of the lengthy passages quoted, as an adult, I envy his vast knowledge of Scripture and the wealth of tools it afforded. His was the first hand to be raised when the congregation was asked about the location of a verse. His was the voice that quaked more as the years passed, but remained confident in quoting passages, Sunday after Sunday. His love of Scripture and dedication to showing that through memorizing it still inspires me today.

Why Memorize?

You have a brain. It’s soft, with a consistency similar to butter. Like a muscle, it develops and grows with use and exercise. Basically, the more you use it, the better it functions.1 The benefits of general memorization are many: staving off cognitive decline, ability to learn new concepts, and fuel for creativity.2 Yet, I’m sure that we’ve all heard the adage, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Memorizing garbage just for the sake of memorizing will not be eternally beneficial. We should carefully analyze what is worthy of our time and effort to memorize. So then, how do we decide what to memorize?

Scripture offers us many reasons to invest our time and energy in its study, and clearly shows us that it is worth memorizing. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 offers a simple and complete reason for the study and memorization of Scripture; it is inspired by God, therefore it is profitable and equipping for the believer that is needing directive for life. The psalmist evidenced a love for the word in Psalm 119, where he recognized over and over his need for it to transform his life, stating in Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”4 He knew the dependability and steadfastness of the Author. He needed no other place to go for truth, direction, or comfort.

The Impact of Memorizing Scripture

The spiritual discipline of memorizing Scripture offers the believer an arsenal of weapons to think, fight, work and pray in a way that glorifies God. The following specific benefits are by no means exhaustive, but they’re a good place to start.

Worthwhile Meditation: Paul writes to the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that noble, lovely, pure, truthful thoughts don’t happen organically for me. Left to myself, my thoughts gravitate to selfish, unlovely impurities. I know these don’t reflect the transforming power of grace, so I put them out of my mind. But if I don’t replace them with something, they are, without doubt, going to return and probably in greater force.

Delighting our minds in the Word of God and hiding it in our hearts feeds our otherwise wayward minds something greater to meditate on and offers a weapon against idleness. Peter encourages believers to prepare their minds for action by actively setting them on what is to come by grace at the final revelation of Christ.

Tools for Evangelization and Discipleship: We are commanded to “sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

I don’t carry my Bible in my back pocket. Maybe I should, but I don’t. The best way for me to be prepared to give a defense is to have a cache of Scripture to soak my defense for my faith and hope. In that way, I will be calling on an authority beyond myself to define truth, and whoever I am conversing with will have to fight it out with God. I’m crippled, then, if I’m depending on looking up passages to make my defense and I’m caught without my Bible. Preparing my mind for action ahead of time by memorizing Scripture allows me to engage in discipling and evangelistic conversations at any time.

Praying Scripture: As we immerse our minds in Scripture (the revelation of who God is, His plan for humanity, and the final Redemption) we see more clearly His will for our lives and the lives of those around us. Our prayers, then, become saturated with the language of Scripture and more aligned with the will of God. This alters both our praise and our requests.

As we see more clearly who God is in the study and meditation of His Word, the prayers we pray throughout the day will swell with adoration of His attributes. Our requests also ought to grow to reflect more of His ultimate plan and less of our selfish ideas of what our lives should be. Let the language of Scripture permeate your prayers as you fill your mind with it!3

Conclusion

At the onset of the task of writing this article, I was both excited and apprehensive. Excited, because I knew it would inspire me to memorize more. Apprehensive, because I knew it promised to step on my toes, and it has. I often struggle to memorize Scripture, but I have found that I do it more effectively when I set goals, write out the passage, and ask God to remind me to work on it. I’m also forgetful, which is why it will be helpful in more than one way!

I challenge you to invest your mind in the memorization of Scripture and to watch it revolutionize the way you think, fight temptation, evangelize, and pray. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). Memorizing Scripture keeps it in the forefront of our minds, making us more likely to respond to life according to its precepts.

I would love to hear from you. Respond in comments below:

In what ways has memorizing Scripture empowered your spiritual life?

What are the tools that you found helpful for the process?

Ruthie Ruthie Hostetler  is quite fond of the rolling hills of Bedford, Pennsylvania, which she calls home. She enjoys sewing, coffee, a good laugh and her eight nieces and nephews. She is passionate about living a life aligned with The Truth, relationships that impact the next spiritual generation, and singing at all times and in all places.

Bibliography

1. “Your Amazing Brain.” Your Brain … N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2017. .

2. BestCollegesOnline.com. “In Praise of Memorization: 10 Proven Brain Benefits.” BestCollegesOnline.com. N.p., 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 05 May 2017. .

3. GotQuestions.org. “What Are the Spiritual Disciplines?” GotQuestions.org. N.p., 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 05 May 2017. .

4. Holy Bible, the New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

5 thoughts on “The Spiritual Discipline of Scripture Memorization

  1. There is a tremendous little app that takes so much work out of Bible memorization it’s not even funny. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading Remember Me: http://www.remem.me. Thanks for the article!

    Like

  2. Thanks so much for this encouraging article! I’ve been challenged, too! I know a few years back, I realized that while spoken scripture memorization was always exceedingly difficult for me to retain, I could learn a song and all it’s words easily. So I started using CDs by Tirzah Joy, and playing her scripture songs of entire chapters if the Bible over and over whole I went about my day, in the car, wherever, until I could sing along. You can listen free online, or buy a greater collection of CDs. And I’ve been surprised by how many other people are doing the same thing- there are many others who sing the Bible and make those songs available! If you’re musically inclined, you could consider learning the Bible through music. I know this has been an enormous weapon for me, particularly against fear, to be able to sing from the Bible. Thanks Ruthie!

    Like

    1. Kara
      Could you tell me where to find these cds. I think this would work great with my children.
      Ruth,very well written and definitely stepped on my toes. I need to work on this!

      Like

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