The Importance of Scripture Memory and How to Do It
By Megan Evans
It’s 7:00am. You’re supposed to be in your car leaving for work, but so far all you have done is hit the snooze button 12 times, broken a coffee mug, and struggled to get your kids on the bus.
Meanwhile, in the same neighborhood at 7:00am, a husband is comforting a wife that just found out her mother has cancer. These are very different situations, but both represent something that we all aren’t immune to: the unpredictability of life.
In the small frustrations of a rough morning or the anger and hurt that can come with a sick family member, we can choose to respond in a way that is God-glorifying. One way we can do this is to bring to mind the living, active Word of God, what Ephesians 6:17 calls “the sword of the Spirit.” When we bring to mind Scripture, we are battling our thoughts and combating lies with the true words that the Lord has given us.
Donald S. Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life uses this analogy, “A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.” To use these weapons, it is imperative to engage in the spiritual discipline of memorizing Scripture.
Memorizing Scripture for Godliness
Psalm 119 is a picture of how important it was for David to have Scripture at the forefront of his mind.
In verses 9-11 he says:
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.
It’s very easy for us to rush through our time in the Word and forget what we read right when the cover closes over our Bibles. But when we do this, we are doing ourselves a great injustice.
David says that one of the ways that he might not sin against the Lord is by treasuring his word in his heart. This doesn’t sound like language that implies that David closed his scroll and forgot what he read! Having Scripture in our hearts is a way that we pursue godliness, to purify our minds and thoughts, just as David says. It’s much harder to continue in a pattern of sin when we allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind a verse or a passage that speaks truth into exactly what we need to hear, allowing room for confession and faith.
Just this week as I was struggling with a slew of health issues, 2 Corinthians 1:5 came to mind in such a timely manner. The Holy Spirit graciously reminded me of the purpose of affliction and the comfort that we have in Christ. When my initial thoughts were fear, frustration, and worry, the Lord “gave me life according to his Word” (Psalm 119:25), calming my spirit. While this helped me defeat my sinful thoughts, it also helped me to commune with the Lord.
Having God’s Word in my thoughts is like having a one-on-one conversation with him, allowing the Spirit to put to mind what he wants there and giving me a chance to respond in obedience and faith.
Memorizing Scripture for Others
We are about Gospel Change. For Broken People. On Purpose.
One of the ways that we can do this “On Purpose” is by having Scripture ready and prepared for the broken. Imagine sitting across from someone listening to them talk about loneliness and all you can think to say is, “It’s okay, Jesus is with you!”
Yes, this is a beautiful truth, and yes Jesus is with us. But if you can look at someone in the eyes and say, “Can I share something that the Lord promises us in Isaiah 41? ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”’
We cannot comfort our brothers and sisters on our own; our words do not have the power to do so. But, God’s words hold the power to change. His Word contains the story of a Father, a brother, and a friend. A Savior that we can cling to and that will sustain us. A fully God, fully human Savior that took on all of our guilt and shame on the cross, whose blood poured out for us, so that we can one day be with him restored. I want to share this story with people, not anything I can come up with on my own. Scripture memory helps with that.
How Do We Do It?
It’s best to develop a plan for memorizing Scripture so that it can become a daily or weekly routine. If you normally spend 30 minutes in the Word in the morning, take the last five of those minutes to memorize a verse in the passage that you read, this way you already know the verse in its context in Scripture.
Donald S. Whitney suggests writing the verse out on an index card and keeping it with you throughout the day. When you have a coffee break at work or while you’re feeding your children lunch, pull out the card and review it. It’s also helpful for those that are more creative to draw a picture describing the verse or put the verse to a tune like a popular children’s song or one of those furniture jingles you just can’t seem to get out of your head (so the verse won’t leave your head either!).
If you were to memorize just one verse a week, that is 52 verses that you have armed and ready for the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts, minister to a brother or sister, and bring you that much closer to a Father who wants to have a conversation with his children.
Want to see what our church is memorizing? Here is a link to our Fighter Verses which we memorize every month.