When was the last time you memorized anything from the Bible?
How about the last time you memorized a popular song, or an advertisement jingle, or a friend’s phone number?
Why is it that we find it so much easier to memorize the unimportant things, the things that are temporary, instead of the words that will last for all eternity? I admit, I have trouble with it myself. And it’s not for lack of training…
I was required to memorize Scripture for Sunday school, weekday school, summertime training from my parents, midweek Bible clubs at church. I still have a lot of it in my memory somewhere, and much it comes back just when I need it. But not all of it. I’ve forgotten a good bit, or paraphrased it so many times I can’t remember the exact wording anymore.
I kind of took a break from memorizing when I got my college diploma… but I’ve gotten back to it recently. And found out many of the reasons why my parents trained me so diligently in Scripture memory. Here’s just a few of those reasons why you should be actively memorizing God’s Word:
- It will remind you of His commands and enable you to obey them. How can we hope to obey God if we don’t know what He commands? And how can we remember what He commands without memorizing His Word? The psalmist David wrote of God’s Word being a light for his feet and a lamp for his path – and he wasn’t speaking of a literal physical light; he was saying that God’s Word directed his steps. Knowing what God wants us to do is the only way we can obey Him and live how He wants us to. And having His Word memorized makes that a whole lot easier!
- It will help you resist the devil and avoid temptations. This kind of goes along with the last point; if we don’t know what Scripture says, how will we discern between right and wrong? If we don’t have God’s stored in our hearts and minds, how will we know the difference between our natural inclinations and the Spirit’s prompting? But if we read it, and memorize it, and keep it in the forefront of our minds, then we will know how God wants us to live and be more aware of where temptation lurks. If we know His Word, we will have the Words available to resist the devil, so that he will flee from us. It’s like David wrote in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
- It will keep your heart and mind stayed upon God. This is a huge thing for me. For many people, probably all of us. We all fight negative thought patterns at some point in our lives, maybe habitually – you know, things like worry, anxiety, anger, bitterness, self-pity, discouragement, fear. The thoughts enter our minds and we start obsessing over them. We consider every possible angle, every way something could (or did) go wrong. And we feel helpless to overcome those thoughts. But we aren’t. We have God’s Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces through to the very thoughts and intents of our hearts. We have His Word, which is stronger and more powerful than any flesh or satanic force. We have His promises, which have been proven true over and over again, to fight those negative patterns. What better way to overcome the obsession of self-pity or anger, than by replacing those thoughts with Scripture, with truths that are lovely and praiseworthy? How better to fight worry and fear than by reciting promises that are true, honest, and just?
- It will help you better understand what God is saying through His Word. A funny thing happens when you memorize a passage of Scripture: you gain understanding. I’m not saying you won’t ever need a study Bible or a concordance or Bible dictionary again. But as you memorize something, really memorize it with your heart not just your brain, you personalize it. And as you personalize it, the Spirit leads you in understanding it and applying it. What used to be a string of unconnected verses suddenly shows a whole picture in vivid detail. What you once thought was only relevant for Old Testament Israelites suddenly becomes relevant for you. For today. There’s nothing like gaining a new understanding of God by the internalization of His Word. You get to know Him so much better than through any classroom or textbook. You get to know His mind, His heart, as you meditate on His Words. You get to know Him, in the most personal and intimate sense of the word.
- It will return to your mind when you are counseling or helping others. I can’t tell you how many times in the past few months I have been listening to a friend, trying to help them through something, and whispered a prayer for guidance in what to say – and He has brought just the right Scripture passage to mind. That won’t happen if you haven’t memorized the verses in the first place. How can you remember something you never learned?
So how about it? When are you going to start (or get back into) memorizing God’s Word? Don’t put it off till your summer vacation or till you start a family. Do it now. Don’t wait until you find just the right passage; pick a chapter and get started. Choose a favorite Psalm, or the first chapter of Proverb, or even start working on the book of James. Don’t stress over it, just do it.
And reap the bountiful fruits of truly knowing God’s Words to you.
If you’re already memorizing, what have you been working on lately? My latest chapter was Isaiah 55; now I’m trying to learn Psalm 103. How about you?