This past Wednesday we continued our Spiritual Disciplines series by talking about memorizing Scripture. Just as we saw that it is important to the life of the believer to read Scripture, so it is important to memorize Scripture (though I must confess, this has been a discipline that I have struggled to implement in my own life).
We looked at a few passages that talk about storing up Scripture in our hearts and treasuring it as something that guides us in living rightly before God and others. Psalm 119:11 speaks of storing up Scripture as a way to avoid sin. Likewise, Deuteronomy 11:18–19 shows Moses warning the nation of Israel to lay up his/God’s words in their hearts, making sure to keep them always in sight and mind and to pass them on to their children. Proverbs 6:20–23 makes a similar appeal to the readers. Similarly, Colossians 3:16 exhorts the church to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” which then helps us to walk together in pursuing Christ as a church. The phrase “word of Christ” here potentially refers specifically to the message of salvation in Jesus alone, but it seems a natural jump to say that this exhortation can apply to Scripture as a whole. Each of these passages lead us to the understanding that if we will devote ourselves to understanding Scripture and storing it up (or memorizing it) in our hearts and minds, that will help us walk in the way that the Lord wants us to walk.
Memorizing Scripture can be difficult, though. There are words that we don’t know, and phrases that are confusing. It can be hard to devote time to memorizing Scripture with all of the other memorization and studying happening in school, or in the face of the many distractions the world throws at us. It is challenging, but it is absolutely a worthwhile pursuit.
We spent the second half of the lesson talking about some basic ways to begin practicing this discipline. First, we have to start with picking verses to memorize. Maybe it’s just one verse that has been meaningful. Maybe it’s a list of verses dealing with a sin that you struggle with (for example, verses talking about controlling our anger). Whatever you decide, just begin working, word by word, verse by verse! If you don’t know where to start, ask a parent, pastor, or teacher who can help you find some key verses for living like Christ!
Once a verse is chosen, a common method to memorize it is to write it on a note-card and carry it around in your pocket or backpack (this is old school, I know). Or maybe keep it as a note on your phone, or even take a screenshot and make it your phone’s background. The key to this method is to look at your verse when you have a few free minutes and just chip away at memorizing it bit by bit! There are also apps that are designed to help us memorize Scripture. One that I’ve found to be helpful is called Versify (https://getversify.web.app). It allows you to create custom lists, or it provides curated lists (again, like verses for dealing with anger). Once you make your list, it has several activities to help you learn the verse, such as reading by revealing one phrase at a time, filling in the blank, or typing the first letter of each word. The drawback of this app is that it only provides verses in ESV or KJV, so if you want a different translation, you’d have to find a different app.
Regardless of how you decide to go about this, the key is to finding something that works for you. Maybe note cards or phones aren’t your method—maybe you’d rather write the verse over and over until you learn it. Each of us is different, so find what works for you!
To close, we reviewed Psalm 19:7–11, which reminds us of the tremendous worth of God’s Word. It is more desired than fine gold, and sweeter than honey. Memorizing Scripture in and of itself does not make us good vs. bad Christians, and it is not the defining element of holiness and Christ-likeness. The Pharisees memorized vast portions of the Old Testament but still rejected Christ and were called hypocrites. However, if we believe that Scripture is the Word of God, and if we believe this psalm that declares it as sweeter than honey and more valuable than gold, then my prayer is that we all (myself included) learn to constantly increase in our love of Scripture and devote it to memory.