The discipline of scripture memory has become, without a doubt, the most significant of the disciplines in my life. God has used scripture memory to not only bring about change and transformation in my life, but has used it to challenge and encouraged other believers. As we consider this discipline I want to share my story and attempt to answer several commonly asked questions about the discipline.
In the summer of 1972, I had an encounter with the Risen Christ that totally rocked my world and radically changed my life. I was delivered from the bondage of sin and given new life through the Gospel.
One thing I remember vividly was that I had an insatiable desire for the word of God. I loved to hear it taught and preached and I read the scriptures every day, sometimes for hours. I was amazed and enlightened by the word of God. The Word became my spiritual food.
After settling into a church, our Youth Pastor challenged me to “hide the word of God in my heart”. I accepted the challenge and began, as a new believer, to memorize scripture. That initiated a lifelong discipline that God has used profoundly in my life.
When I got to LSU for college, I began to meet with some guys in the dorms to pray, study, and memorize scripture, to hold one another accountable and encourage one another. I have been meeting in D-groups ever since, disciplining, loving, challenging and encouraging others for Christ’s sake.
What Do We Mean by Scripture Memory?
Scripture Memory has been classified by Donald Whitney as “a sub discipline” of Bible intake. Scripture Memory, according to Whitney is “storing the scripture in the mind.”
It is committing God’s word to memory so that it can be recalled and put to use.
You would search in vain to find a verse in the Bible that actually explicitly command one to memorize scripture, However, there are several texts that seem to imply the discipline.
These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:6, CSB)
Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16, CSB)
I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, CSB)
Why Should We Memorize Scripture?
There are many reasons why you should memorize scripture. Here are just a few.
- To share a “word fitly spoken”
A word fitly spoken is as apples of gold in the setting of silver. (Proverbs 25:11 NKJV)
We have countless opportunities to share a word of encouragement or witness with others. When we have the Word committed to memory we can share as we are prompted by the Holy Spirit.
But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15, CSB)
- To overcome temptation or discouragement
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11, CSB)
When faced with temptation the Lord Jesus responded by saying “It is written.” We too must wield the “sword of the spirit” when we battle against our enemies.
In addition to temptation, we all face discouragement. One tactic of the enemy is to try to get us to dwell on those things that are not profitable. We must meditate on God’s truth.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8, CSB)
- To renew your mind
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, CSB)
Our minds are renewed by the Word of God. One wonderful way to renew your mind and embrace God’s truth is to memorize and meditate on the Word.
How to Memorize Scripture
This is the step by step process that I have used for years.
Step 1 – The first step to memorizing scripture is to find a verse that you find particularly helpful and that you would like to know by heart.
Step 2 – Write this verse down in a journal designated for verses that you intend to memorize and begin to meditate on the verse as you are writing it.
Step 3 – Then write that same verse on a flash card with the reference (i.e. John 1:12) on one side and the verse (i.e. “But to all who did receive him…”).
Step 4 – Begin memorizing this verse, starting with the first phrase. After you’ve memorized the first phrase, build on it by memorizing the second phrase. Continue this process until you have memorized the entire verse word-perfect.
Step 5 – After you have memorized the entire verse word-perfect, recite the verse to yourself at least 20 times without looking.
Step 6 – Finally, and this is absolutely crucial to Scripture memory, you must review the verse daily. Set aside time each day to work on reviewing the verses you have memorized.
There are also a variety of tools available to you to help you, including apps for your smartphone or tablet. One popular one would be fighter verses which has apps for both Apple or Android smartphones. There are many ways to memorize scripture, the most important thing is to find one that works well for you and do it.