The Benefits of Memorizing Scripture
Not so long ago my mother-in-love began reporting that people were stealing her money, partying in her kitchen at night, and birds were trying to steal her purse. Yes, she was suffering from dementia and it was a difficult road for us to witness. But there was one thing that remained intact in her memory. You see when she was a young girl she had memorized scripture so well, that it remained within her.
Even when she struggled to remember events of the day, she would light up when she heard a hymn or scripture. She would sign along perfectly or finish reciting the scripture. I was amazed and encouraged. And I’m not the only one who has witnessed this occurrence. Dr. Benjamin Mast wrote a book, Second Forgetting: Remembering the Power of the Gospel during Alzheimer’s Disease.
New information is quickly forgotten but habitual memories like reading scripture, praying, and singing hymns or songs can still be accessed when prompted. So what would be your habitual memories? This thought prompted me to memorize scripture.
Why should we memorize scripture?
It greatly encourages me if I take time now to write the Lord’s word on my heart, it will always remain with me deeply embedded in my soul. Even if I should forget the Lord due to dementia, the Lord will never forget me or you…or your loved ones. Even if I lose my vision, the words will be planted in my mind and written upon my heart.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Joshua 1:8 NIV
The definition of meditate includes studying, thinking about, and concentration. This sounds like memorization to me. The LORD instructs us to “meditate” on it. If we spend time focusing on scripture, then we will be more careful to follow it. Because if we don’t meditate on God’s word, then we won’t even notice when we are straying from it.
Who should Memorize?
According to Susan Heck all believers of Jesus Christ and the LORD are commanded to meditate on scripture, so that we will carefully to apply it to our lives.
But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:5 BSB.
But I’ve never been good at remembering people’s names, lyrics, so how can I expect myself to memorize scripture?
About three years ago a bible study teacher challenged me to memorize not just one verse, or one chapter, but the entire book of James. Although I didn’t really think it was possible with my past of forgotten names, lyrics, and state capitals, I decided to pray about it.
When do We memorize scripture?
During my prayers, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me. And he did! I wrote the verses in chunks on index cards as well as typed it out on paper.
So, whenever I was walking the dog, driving to work, or blow drying my hair…I recited the verses over and over in my mind. I even emailed it to myself, because most of the time when I’m stuck in unexpected places waiting I can use my phone to help me remember the next verse.
What scripture should we memorize?
Psalms, James, or John 15 is where I started, but you can select any chapter. However, Susan Heck warns against memorizing lines of scripture from here and there because they could be interpreted out of context. Plus they are harder to memorize. It is easier to memorize related scripture in one entire chapter than single unrelated verses.
I would love for you to share with me what scripture you have memorized or would like to in the comments below!
How Do We Memorize Scripture?
Susan Heck explains the procedure that she uses for memorization in the video at the bottom of this post. It consists of recording her voice reading the scripture fast and she recites it just as quickly.
However, my method was different. I used Bible hub to find a version that spoke the scripture using words that I understood the meaning. Then I wrote it out in longhand, typed it, and recited it daily over and over whenever I had to wait for my computer to turn on, in a shopping line, or on hold.
John Piper states he reads the verse he is memorizing 10 times, recites it from memory 10 times and then is done for the day. He only devoted 5 – 10 minutes a day but even with that a lot of scripture can be memorized! Recite and review is the strategy that worked for him too.
But first start with prayer!
Heavenly Father we praise you because you are our creator. You created our brain to store important information, and for our brain to recall information when needed. We thank you for helping us to remember your word. Forgive us when we doubt whether or not we can really memorize scripture. Help us to believe that with your Divine power, we can remember not just one verse but an entire book in the bible. We ask for you to plant your word in our minds, hearts, and souls. In Jesus name, we ask these things. Amen.
View Delighting in the Word by Susan Heck
View Susan’s teaching to find out about how she memorizes scripture by Listening to her session about Delighting in the Word on youtube.
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