Oh, boy! This post is going to be a doozy for me. Does that ever happen to you? Somebody comes up to you and asks you a question or you’re teaching or something and as you are explaining, you wince inside, knowing that you really struggle to practice what you preach? That’s me right now. I haven’t memorized a verse in a year and a half. Maybe more.
But why is it so important? I mean, we live in a day and age in which we can pull up verses on our phones anytime, anywhere. Not to mention, getting a copy of the Bible is not difficult. Churches give them out, they are given as gifts, Christian bookstores have hundreds of them. In our apartment right now, Benjamin and I have twelve copies of the Bible, not including the apps on our electronic devices. And there are only two of us! But that still doesn’t mean memorization is unnecessary. It’s actually really important and I have four reasons why, plus some tips on how to get better at it. Ahhh… lists… I love lists…: )
1. That I might not sin. This one I actually took word for word from Psalm 119:11. The full verse says, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.” How often are you tempted to do the wrong thing when your Bible is open in front of you and you’re reading a verse about the very thing you shouldn’t be doing? Probably never. How often are you tempted to do something and really want to pull out your Bible to find what it has to say on the subject? Again, probably never (at least not with enthusiasm if you’re feeling really tempted). That’s why it’s so important that we are carrying it around with us. If we have it there in our minds, the Holy Spirit can bring it to our memory and encourage us to do the right thing. Psalm 119, this time verse 9 says that someone can “keep his way pure by taking heed according to Your Word.” Memorizing Scripture is one of the best ways to keep ourselves on track.
2. Witnessing. Imagine this scene. You get into a conversation with someone and it comes up that you’re a Christian. “Great!” they say, “I’ve had some questions and really want to know more!” You’re thrilled, but every time they ask you a question, you say something like, “Well, in the Bible somewhere it says something like…” 1 Peter 3:15 says that we need to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Scripture memorization is a great way to make sure you’re ready. Besides, in Isaiah 55:11, God says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” If we give people God’s Word, He promises that it will do exactly what He intends. There’s no promise about that for the words we just make up in our own heads. If we want to spread the hope of God, we need to know what He says about it.
3. Extra study. God’s Word is His message directly to us. It is the story of His goodness, the letter of His love, the guidebook for how to live this life, and so much more. We need to know it inside and out, and we need to remember it constantly. If we have it memorized, it will not only come up in our thoughts more often, but as we read the words over and over trying to put them to memory, we’ll have more opportunities to think about it. Proverbs 6:21-22 says to, “Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you.” We should just be soaking ourselves in God’s Word.
4. The joy of it. This has a lot to do with where I was going with number 3. God’s Word isn’t just directions for how to not sin. It’s also encouragement! It talks about God’s love for us, His provision for us, His wisdom, His guidance, etc… And if we fill ourselves up with Scripture, it will always be there for us in the moment that we need it.
So, now that we know why we should be doing this in the first place, how are we actually going to go about memorizing?
1. Notecards. Write the verse on some notecards (writing it alone will help), then post them in places you look all the time.
2. Phone backgrounds. There are lots of beautifully written verses, especially on Pinterest, that you can save as the lock screen on your phone. Just be sure to read it every time you unlock your phone.
3. Say it out loud. All the time. This is the best way for me. Making up little rhythms or silly songs helps too : ) Also, tell it to people! Tell everyone about this verse you’re memorizing and what it means and why you’re memorizing it and how it will help you. Just say it over and over again, giving it lots of personal meaning.
4. Put it in color with lots of cool designs. If you’re artsy, this is a good way to help it stick in your mind. Your brain will remember the color.
5. Memorize verses that are next to each other so that they just build off one another. That way you can remember generally what’s being talked about in the verses when you go to say them to yourself.
I hope this helps you out. I’m going to start working on memorizing Corinthians 15:58 (“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”). I’ll let you know how it goes!
What verses are you working on memorizing? Do you have any tips and tricks for getting verses to stick?
Has there ever been a time in which God brought a memorized verse to mind when you needed it?