Why should Christians commit themselves to memorize Bible verses? Isn’t it enough just to set aside time throughout the day to read the Bible? Do Christians, especially new believers, really need to memorize what the Bible says?
As faithful followers of Christ, Christians ought to commit themselves to memorize passages from the Bible throughout their lives. Let’s briefly explore three reasons why, and then discover three practical ways to memorize the Bible.
Three Reasons to Memorize the Bible
1. For Obedience
One reason for this is because the Bible itself suggests it: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18 ESV).
God instructs his followers to commit his words to memory by binding them in their hearts and souls.
2. For Preparation
Another reason we memorize the Bible is so that we are always prepared to give an explanation for our faith. In reference to 1 Peter 3:15, Christians ought to be ready to supply a reason for what and why they believe what they do.
3. For Strength
A third reason we should commit to this spiritual discipline is that it has endured as a common spiritual practice. Memorizing the Bible as a devotional practice has been a long-standing exercise by many believers to strengthen their spiritual muscle of faith throughout the Christian tradition.
Three Practical Ways to Memorize the Bible
Memorizing anything—let alone the Bible—can be a very difficult and daunting task, especially if you’re a young adult with a very demanding schedule. You’re constantly on the move. Whether it’s schoolwork, a job, or spending time with friends and family, schedules quickly become filled and inflexible.
So, let’s turn our attention to three practical ways to begin the process of memorizing Bible verses amidst a busy and unforgiving schedule.
Pick a meaningful passage.
As a newcomer beginning to memorize Scripture for the first time, or as a seasoned veteran wanting to recommit to the spiritual discipline, you should begin by memorizing a passage that is meaningful to you.
This could be a passage that was instrumental in your conversion, provided comfort in a time of need, or caught your attention during the Sunday sermon at your church. It’s obvious that you will have more success starting to memorize a passage with a sentimental value than not. However, in your Bible reading, the hope is that you would increasingly delight in each and every book of the Bible.
Along with picking a meaningful passage to begin, you should also try to ensure that it’s short. While the meaningful passage you pick might be several verses long, you should attempt to memorize it one verse at a time. The important thing is to start with both a meaningful and short passage. This is a practice into which we want to grow; quality of engagement with the Bible is better than quantity. It has been said that it’s better to get the Bible through you than to get you through the Bible.
Write the passage down and keep it on your person.
This next step follows closely to the exhortation in Deuteronomy 11:18 we looked at earlier. You should write your passage down on an appropriately-sized piece of paper, possibly a notecard for its durability, and keep it in your pocket.
Instead of writing down every word in the passage, you could write down the first letter for every word to challenge yourself and save time. For example, if you’re memorizing Romans 12:1—”I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”—you could write, “I at y t, b, b t m o G, t p y b a a l s, h a a t G, w i y s w.”
Of course, you could type the verse on your phone. However, beware of distractions. Your goal is to commit yourself to memorize the Bible effectively. Your phone wants your attention and will alert you when hungry.
By having your verse written down in your pocket, there’s a physical reminder for you throughout the day to practice memorizing the verse. Jonathan Edwards, the great American philosopher and theologian, used to pin notes onto his jackets as he went about his day!
Repetition is your best friend (Joshua 1:8). Throughout your day, as much as you can, practice saying the verse aloud to yourself. Even if you only practice when you empty your pockets at the end of the day: practice, practice, practice.
Memorize with a friend.
Find a friend who is either new to memorizing Bible verses or has been memorizing consistently for several years. Either friend will give you exactly what you need in this journey: accountability.
If repetition is the reins of your horse to steer it in the right direction, then accountability is your whip to keep it going. A faithful friend will greatly support you in this process by holding you accountable for not only memorizing your verse but also memorizing in a timely matter. This will allow you to move promptly to another verse.
You will discover memorizing Bible verses with a devoted friend has the potential to deepen friendship and create an atmosphere filled with joyful experiences. Remember, any journey set with tall and treacherous mountains will need the accompaniment of a good friend.
Finding Your Way Home
In the end, you will find this journey of memorizing Scripture a worthwhile enterprise. Make no mistake: you will fall many times during this adventure. When you do, remember to keep climbing. Your goal is not to memorize more verses than the Christian in the pew next to you. Let the psalmist remind you, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The goal is to just keep walking in the light, until we finally find our way home.