Memorizing Scripture is one of the most effective means to engage Scripture. Because Scripture engagement is about reflecting on the Bible and mulling a passage over in our minds, having a passage memorized makes the process of reflection available to you at all times. Memorized Scripture allows you to dwell continuously on a passage throughout the day. Passages memorized often bring a sense of “ownership”; a passage feels like it “belongs” to you after you have it memorized.
In an age when Bibles are readily available, it might seem that the work it takes to memorize Scripture is not worth the effort. Most of us don’t memorize much of anything, so why should we memorize the Bible? Didn’t people in the past need to memorize Scripture because the Bible was not readily available? In reality, there are actually numerous and critically important spiritual reasons for Scripture memorization.
Reasons to Memorize Scripture
First, Bible verses that are memorized will come back to you. Memorized Scripture is particularly helpful when you’re being tempted. Jesus combated the half-truths of Satan by quoting Scriptures from the Torah that he had memorized as a young man (in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus quotes from passages in Deuteronomy and in Psalms). Psalm 119:11 is clear about the relationship between memorizing Scripture and its power to help you resist temptation: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” As the saying goes, “Don’t forget what you learned in the light when you’re in the dark.” Scripture memory, done in the “light” times when you are strong in your faith, will come back to you during the “dark” times of temptation. When you need encouragement, comfort, or strength to stand firm in your faith, God’s Word will be readily at hand.
Second, memorizing Scripture, like all Scripture engagement practices, will help you grow in your knowledge of, love for, and obedience to God. The truths of the Bible will soak into your life, changing your understanding of what is real and good. It will help you to be stronger emotionally, bring a deeper peace into your life, and will be used by God to renew your mind.
Third, memorized Scripture is also helpful as you serve other people. You can bless others when you have an appropriate passage to share. In Colossians 3:16 we read, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” When giving advice to others who are hurting or struggling, God’s Word, readily available to you if you have it memorized, is powerful to bring healing and encouragement. Also, being able to quote specific passages as you share your faith will help others to hear God’s Word and might even be used by God to bring others to Christ (Romans 10:17).
Finally, memorizing Scripture is a powerful tool to help you to live out your faith. It’s important to keep in mind that memorizing God’s Word is not the final objective of memorizing the Bible. We’re called to be “doers” of the Word (James 2:14-19; Matthew 7:24-27). In Deuteronomy 30:14 we read, “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”
What to Memorize
What passages of Scriptures should you memorize? Some people prefer to memorize shorter passages, often individual verses. You can choose verses on topics that have meaning for you (e.g., God’s forgiveness, comfort, promises). Some people memorize verses in preparation to counsel others or to share Christ. You might memorize passages on theology (e.g., the attributes of God). You may end up preferring to memorize chapters or whole books of the Bible. See the Memorizing Scripture Resources page for more specific ideas on how and what to memorize.
Consider Memorizing with Others
Scripture memorization can be done individually, but it also can be done in groups. Memorizing Scripture together can be powerful for a family or small group Bible study. Memorizing with others can be a great encouragement and help you stay accountable to your memorization goals. Almost all things done in life can be done better with other people involved. Check out the Scripture Memorization in Small Groups section for more ideas.
Memorize through Singing
You may feel that you struggle with memorizing anything in your life, including Scripture. But the chances are you actually have hundreds of songs memorized with no effort at all. Using music to help you memorize Scripture is a wonderful God-given tool that you can read more about on the Singing Scripture page (which itself is another form of Scripture engagement).
Followers of God have a long rich history of memorizing Scripture. From the time that the first books of the Bible were written, people have been memorizing Scripture in order to help them live faithfully. It is clear that Jesus memorized Scripture from the fact that he so often quoted Scripture when he was talking to others. Both the Old and New Testament authors consistently quote Scripture. Do you know someone who consistently memorizes Scripture? Ask what it has meant to his or her spiritual growth. Chances are high that you’ll get a glowing testimony!