What does the fox say?
What’s your favorite line from your favorite TV show?
What’s the first line that pops into your head from your favorite movie?
What words come to your mind next when you read “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” or “Can’t stop the feelin'”?
Ironically, the same person who could rattle off their 16-digit credit card number, can quote almost any line from their favorite movie, and knows most of the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” may also be the same person who tells me they can’t memorize Scripture.
As we’ve rolled out of one year into the next, I’ve been posting a series of blogs about the practical side of spiritual disciplines. So far, we’ve covered Bible reading and prayer. Today we’re covering the topic of Scripture memory…
Let’s start with why it’s so important.
The Bible says to.
That should be enough of a reason right there.
But this isn’t just a case of “Do it because I said to.” The Bible gives a deeper, more practical reason to do so: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
Scripture memory is sin prevention.
Psalm 119 makes it very clear. Temptation prevention begins with Scripture memory. The question is not if you’ll be tempted, but when. Since temptation has happened and will continue to happen every day of your life…
You need to be stocked up.
In many Bible translations, Psalm 119 says “hide God’s Word in my heart.” However, I really like the ESV’s translation of “stored up your word in my heart.” Storing up speaks of preparation.
Think of memorizing Scripture like stocking up your tool chest.
You never know what type of problem is going to come your way, and if you’re not prepared with the right tools, you won’t be able to fix it. However, if you’ve devoted time to stocking up your tool chest with the right spiritual tools, you’ll be amazed at how God uses them when problems or temptations come your way.
Memorizing Taylor Swift lyrics may help you “shake it off,” but that will only last so long!
If you want to know how to memorize Scripture, think about how you memorize anything else…
How can my 2-year old son sing multiple verses of “Holly Jolly Christmas”? Because he heard it a couple hundred times during the month of December. So much so that he began requesting it whenever we got in the car. Spotify must think we love Burl Ives!
One of the main reasons I can quote so many lines from The Office, Tommy Boy, and Dumb & Dumber is because I can’t count the amount of times I’ve watched them. The more we take things in, the easier it becomes to commit them to memory. (tweet this)
Scripture memory works similarly. Inhale Scripture. Not literally, but through your eyes and ears. Read it, speak it, listen to it, and meditate on it.
You won’t find time. You have to make time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching TV or playing video games or browsing social media, but imagine what you could do if you even cut out a small portion of the time you spend on those.
If you want to store God’s Word in your heart, it will take prioritizing God’s Word in your life. (tweet this)
Although there are some things you may never forget, even if you wanted to, I’ve found that Scripture is rarely like that. If I want to make sure it’s easily accessible, I have to keep it fresh.
Sad news. I used to have a few entire books of the Bible memorized: Philippians, James, and Ephesians, and I was working on 1 Peter. I loved meditating on and storing up God’s Word in my heart, but I didn’t keep it fresh, and I lost it. Of course it isn’t a waste – I grew as I memorized, and I know those books very well today, but I wish I would have put the time in to keep them fresh in my heart.
If you don’t fight to keep it, you’ll lose it. Make it a habit to regularly freshen up so you stay sharp.
There will always be a reason not to start, so stop making excuses and get going on this important spiritual discipline. Pick a verse, a few verses, or a chapter, and start with that. Currently, I’m 18 verses into Romans 8 and I’m loving it. It’s always been a powerful chapter, but it means even more to me now that I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to reading and memorizing it.
Relevant Magazine recently ran a great article about memorizing Scripture. Make sure to check it out: The Hardest Spiritual Discipline is the Most Important One.
Let me know in the comments if this was helpful and what you’re memorizing.
Also, if you have any helpful memory tips or tricks, I’d love to hear about them!