The Importance of Memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture helps us truly grasp, meditate on, and live in light of God’s character, his promises, and his commands.

Since childhood, my father instilled in me a love for the Word through our times of family devotions. Because of that, I have always enjoyed memorizing scripture passages. Of course, my motivation for doing so as a child was more out of enjoyment and pleasing my dad. Over the years, however, the motivation has certainly changed!

The word of God is such a powerful tool for the believer.  Scripture itself makes it clear that to use it as such a tool, we must know it! Joshua 1:8 puts it this way: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” This verse is just one of many that states the importance of having God’s word in our heart.

God’s Word instructs us to memorize Scripture

Memorizing scripture is important for many reasons and has many benefits. However, the primary reason we memorize it is because God commands us to. The psalmist writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11). If we are commanded to obey our Lord, and hiding God’s word in our hearts keeps us from sinning, I think we can safely assume this implies we must hide Scripture in our hearts. In Colossians 3:16 Paul also tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” .The best way for the Bible to dwell in us richly is through memorization and mediation!

According to Romans 12:2, keeping Scripture at the forefront of our minds will help us receive spiritual transformation from God: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind“. Ephesians 5:26 says, “…That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.”  The Word of God purifies us. No matter how precious experience might be, our experiences come and go, but the Word of God remains a sure foundation for cleansing from sin and conforming to Christ.

God’s Word reveals his character to us

In Exodus 33:18, Moses initiates a request to God. “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory’” . God’s response to Moses is later seen in Exodus 34:6-7a – “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’.” It is in passages like this that we come to understand God’s character. We learn about the one true God through what he has revealed about himself through his word. Through the Bible, we learn that God is triune, faithful, holy, and abounding in grace.

In my teen years, I memorized Psalm 139, a chapter that describes the omnipresence and sovereignty of God. That chapter has helped me through some of my darkest times; times when I needed assurance of his presence and his perfect plan for my life. Of course, I certainly could have read such passages during those difficult times. However, having Psalm 139 in my heart brought it to mind promptly and as needed, bringing inexplicable peace.

Memorizing Scripture helps us to truly grasp, meditate on, and live in light of God’s character, promises, and commands. It’s like digging deep wells to draw upon for the spiritually long and dry days we often face.

God’s Word teaches us how to live

Memorizing and meditating on Scripture is also an excellent remedy for resisting temptation (Ps 119:11). His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:105). When God’s Word is fresh on your mind, and your life is constantly being shaped and saturated by it, it is easier to avoid the temptations you face. A few years ago, I attended a Sunday School class on Romans 12 and Christian living. The teacher challenged us to memorize the chapter. I took the challenge and memorized it, only to find that the real challenge was living it! Reviewing those verses each day brought conviction to my own heart as to how I was treating others. As a result, I began working on the necessary changes to live in conformity to the word.

Just recently our church’s community groups did a study on the book of Titus. I chose to memorize chapters two and three, and again, what a life-changer for me! Titus 2:3-5 says this – “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”  These verses not only teach me how to live, but they also admonish me to invest in and teach the younger women God has placed in my life.

Get Memorizing!

There are many other reasons to memorize Scripture, but these are the three that continually motivate me to do so.  I want to challenge you to devote some time and energy to this crucial and rewarding task. Find a verse, chapter, psalm, or even an entire NT letter and make a plan to memorize it. Working together with a friend or spouse can also help keep you motivated. For those in community groups, you could work on memorizing passages together.

David Mathis puts it this way: “Scripture memory, at its best, is about feeding your soul today and mapping your life and mind onto the very life and mind of God.” Let’s be known as a church filled with Scripture and living in light of what we have memorized!

For an excellent resource on how to memorize Scripture, see Andy Davis’ little booklet: An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.