Psalm 37:30–31; 119:9–16; Matthew 4:1–10
I know of no other single practice in the Christian life that’s more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. That’s right. No other single discipline is more useful and rewarding than this. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.
God’s Word is filled with exhortations to implant His truth in our hearts. David says that a young man can keep his life pure by treasuring God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 37:31; 119:9–11). Solomon refers to this in Proverbs 4:4:
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live.”
The words hold fast come from a single Hebrew term, meaning “to grasp, seize, lay hold of.” Scripture memory gives you a firm grasp of the Word—and allows the Word to get a firm grasp of you! Solomon also mentions writing the Word “on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3) and having Scriptures kept within you so “they may be ready on your lips” (Proverbs 22:18).
Now, I know you’ve been challenged to do this before. But is it happening? Perhaps you have procrastinated because you have mental blocks against it. Maybe you tried, but you either did not see the value or could not get beyond the method that was demanded by some memory program—little cards, booklets, checkup techniques, hearers, etc. Perhaps that seemed elementary and insulted your intelligence. I understand.
Okay . . . forget the methods . . . but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Take your Bible, turn to a passage that’s been especially helpful . . . and commit that passage to memory—all on your own. Don’t learn just isolated verses here and there. Bite off whole chunks of Scripture. That way you can get the flow of thought God had in mind.
Here are seven things I have found helpful:
1. Choose a time when your mind is free from outside distractions . . . perhaps soon after getting up in the morning.
2. Learn the reference by repeating it every time you say the verse(s). Numbers are more difficult to remember than words.
3. Read each verse through several times—both in a whisper and aloud. Hearing yourself say the words helps cement them into your mind.
4. Break the passage into its natural phrases. Learn the reference and then the first phrase. Then repeat the reference and first phrase as you go to the second phrase. Continue adding phrases one by one.
5. Learn a little bit perfectly rather than a great deal poorly. Do not go on to the next verse until you can say the previous one(s) perfectly, without a glance at your Bible.
6. Review the verse(s) immediately after you have gone through this process. Twenty to thirty minutes later, repeat what you’ve memorized. Before the day has ended, firmly fix the verse(s) in your mind by going over it fifteen to twenty times. (You can do this as you drive or do your job.)
7. Use the verse(s) orally as soon as possible. After all, the purpose of Scripture memory is a practical one, not academic. Use the verses in conversation, in correspondence, in teaching, in counseling, in everyday opportunities. Relate what you’ve learned to your daily situation. You’ll be thrilled with the results.