Memorization. The word dredges up snapshots of elementary school where painfully digested data was regurgitated for tests. Remember the command to reproduce the multiplication tables from 1×1 to 12×12 on a blank sheet of paper? At the time I failed to see the value, but now after years of using the readily available numerical answers I’m glad someone pushed me to learn.
Memorizing Scripture brings many benefits. Chuck Swindoll, well-known author, founder and teacher for Insight for Living Radio ministries, wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture…No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective…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.” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Charles R. Swindoll, Multnomah Press 1983, Page 53).
Dr. David Jeremiah adds this endorsement, “When we memorize the Bible, we make it portable. It becomes accessible to us night and day…And when we memorize what He says, it’s like having His voice recorded in our minds, ready for playback at the blink of an eye.” (Overcomer, Dr. David Jeremiah, W Publishing Group, 2018, Page 158)
How I live is a personal choice, a choice too important to delegate, and one I must make for myself. If I want the right thoughts occupying my mind, the right words exiting my mouth, and the right actions marking my steps then I need the correct inputs. As an engineer I know that a garbage program, one that is improperly coded and bug-filled, loaded into a processor will not produce the expected results. Much havoc is the usual outcome.
An ancient psalmist described the ideal option for living and noted the central focus of that life, the force driving the choices.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalms 1:1-3 NASB
Day and night the principles from God’s Word occupied this man’s mind. That focus gave his life stability like a tree planted by a river in an arid land.
What practical advantages will I reap from Scripture memorization?
Builds my faith
As God’s Word becomes a permanent part of my thoughts I’m reminded over and over of His promises, His plan, and His power.
Pushes me closer to triumph over sin and Satan
Perhaps my greatest struggle is with a particular sin. Memorizing verses that speak to the topic can help me overcome. This verse spells out the benefit of knowing God’s Word in our struggle with sin.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11 ESV
Strengthens my prayer life
Praying through a Psalm, speaking God’s words back to Him in prayer, finding myself in the story of a Bible character—all add life to my prayers. Check out Romans 8:26-27 to learn about another Resources God provides to help with our prayers.
Loads my toolbox with verses that can help in decision making, sharing my faith, comforting another
How will I know what honors God if I do not have His words in my heart? Often decisions must be made in real time. I simply do not have time to do a thorough Bible study before I choose (think wrestling with temptation). What a blessing to have the Word in my heart where instant recall can give the answer straight from God.
Allows me to meditate on the Bible when both hands are busy
Mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, folding the laundry—often we find ourselves busy, perhaps even stressed. God’s Word, retained in my memory, can speak to my heart in those moments.
Brings me closer to God
I have a stack of love letters written by the lady who is now my wife. Though deeply in love and engaged to be married circumstances kept us hundreds of miles apart for months. Long distance calls were too expensive, email and texting had not been invented so we opted for pen and paper. I read the pages and read them again, feeling her love in the words. Her letters served as a reminder that one day we would be together. And her love to me triggered my thoughts and fueled my desire to write back. Our relationship grew stronger in those interactions. Likewise when I read and understand God’s Word, talk to Him in prayer, and express my feelings toward Him my relationship with Him will strengthen.
Changes the way I think
I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages coming my way in a typical day. Sales pitches, sound bites, mantras—seems as though everyone wants to influence my thinking. But not all that influence is righteous or in line with God’s viewpoint. To be a discerning discerner skilled at discernment I better know what He thinks and that knowledge comes from His Word.
Although commercial products and programs aimed at memorization can be purchased ready-to-run, I prefer something simple, something that works for me. I picked favorite verses many of which I’ve underlined in years of reading through the Bible and pasted them into a table in a Word document as shown in this sample page.
Next, I printed the document on card stock, divided the blocks into individual cards, and I have a personalized memory system. I can carry one verse in my shirt pocket, and pray through it several times each day. I can keep the same verse on deck for a month if I like.
This system works at my pace. My goal is to meditate on something that helps me rather than reach a target of X verses in Y weeks. And the hidden benefit is the message latches into my heart. David put it this way:
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:130 (NASB)
Here is my current set of verse cards in PDF format, 13 pages of verses from the Old Testament and 17 pages of verses from the New Testament. I chose the NASB version of the Bible for this project.
The pages are ready to print and slice, and if you can use them or share them, please do so. The individual verse cards are business-card-sized at 1.9” x 3.3” (or 4.8 cm x 8.4 cm if you prefer metric measurements).
Join me in hiding God’s Word deep in the heart where it becomes our own. Start now. Keep at it. Never quit.