This article is from our Engaging God’s Word series
When I was growing up I had a landline home phone and so did everyone else I knew. I knew my phone number by heart. Amazingly, I also knew all my friend’s numbers and a handful of helpful numbers like the movie theater, school, and local movie rental establishment. That was a lot of numbers to memorize, but it never crossed my mind that I was committing all that to memory. I can even recall some of these phone numbers today. It is incredible what our mind can commit to memory when we apply ourselves.
While I was growing up, like most people, I took lots of tests in school. I would study for these tests based on what the teacher said would be on them. Mostly, if I am honest, I crammed for these tests at the last minute attempting to memorize facts, names, or equations. Cramming actually worked for me (don’t tell the kids), but it didn’t last. I can’t recall most of what I answered on those tests, especially the math. It is interesting how our memory can handle little bursts of memorization and then dump it all after it’s required.
When it comes to memorizing Scripture, I tended for a long time to use the cramming model. The reason for this is that I usually memorized Scripture for an accountability partner or a Sunday school class. Rarely did I memorize Scripture for personal growth or extended edification. I was cramming for a test, just a different kind of test and the results were the same: I forgot the information as soon as I passed. As I have been making disciples over the last few years, I have discovered that Scripture memory is not just an activity for kids to practice in children’s ministry, it is a vital habit for spiritual maturity.
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Think about it like those old phone numbers. If you didn’t know an important number back then, you might be in trouble. If you were at home, sure you could look it up in a notebook or a phone book. But if you were out and about and needed one, you were out of luck. Because this was an issue, just about everyone knew the importance of memorizing at least the most vital numbers. Apply that to Scripture memory. Sure, in our technology-drenched lives we may shrug off Scripture memory because every verse in the Bible is just a few taps away. But what happens when we are dealing with issues and struggling with problems? What happens when we face life challenges and the enemies attack? Perhaps we could pull out a device or hop on a computer and look up something from God’s Word. In my experience, this never happens. But what if we stored key passages in our hearts? What if we filled our mind with Scripture that we could recall and meditate upon?
Psalm 119:11 provides a key reason Scripture memorization is so important: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (ESV). Memorizing God’s Word moves us from being reactive to sin and challenges in our lives toward being proactive about our walk with Him. If we memorize the Word, we know what’s right, we know what God desires for us. That knowledge, applied, allows us to follow Him more closely and effectively.
Memorizing Scripture is not about passing a test or impressing your friends. When we commit the Scriptures to memory, we prepare ourselves to live in the way Jesus has commanded us. We are more prepared to face everyday battles, and we set ourselves up to grow in spiritual maturity. How important is memorization when it comes to the Word? It could be the difference between remaining stagnant in your walk with God and thriving and growing as a disciple of Jesus.
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