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Do I HAVE to memorize?

July 1, 2010

“Do I HAVE to memorize?”

The short answer?  Nope.  There is no command for memorization.  However, there is great benefit to our spiritual growth and maturity from memorization.

The question I would ask in response is, “Why DON’T you memorize Scripture?” And I imagine the main answer I would receive is, “I can’t.” To which my pastor, who can be sort of dramatic, would say, “Then you better tear out Philippians 4:13 from your Bible because you don’t believe that Christ gives you the mental strength to memorize!”

Leaving the dramatics behind for a moment, I do think it is imperative that we acknowledge it is rarely that we CANNOT memorize Scripture … it is,truthfully, that would would RATHER NOT devote the time and energy to doing so. How do I know that we are all capable of memorizing Scripture?  Because no doubt many of you have books seared into your brain from reading them to  your children so many times.  Others of you may have countless extension numbers floating around your head from years worked at a specific office.   Still more of us have lines from movies, quotes from television shows, passages of books, and verses of songs readily accessible in our minds.


So, back to the main issue … the benefits of memorizing Scripture.

John Piper says in Desiring Joy that we should memorize God’s Word because, “It is the source of life and faith and power and hope and freedom and wisdom and comfort and assurance and victory over our greatest enemy” (152).

Scripture is our source of power and protection. Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against Thee” (NASB).

Scripture gives us a standard for evaluating our thoughts and pursuits. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (NASB).

Scripture offers us guidelines for relating to others. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:32 (NASB).

Scripture provides us with insight into God’s character, “O Lord our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” Psalm 8:1 (NASB).

These are but a few of the benefits we accrue when we spend time memorizing the Word of God.

So, while memorization is not a command, having the Word of God deeply implanted into our hearts and minds affords us a greater ability to be obedient to the Lord in all other ways.

Are you a memorizer?  Has imbedding Scripture into your heart always been a struggle for you?  Tomorrow, Kathy will be sharing some tips for memorizing.

What passages have you memorized?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 8:19 am

    I find that when I study a passage in depth, it’s easier to memorize. I’m working on a section of Philippians right now. I DO find it hard to memorize, but I also find it worth the effort. And for me I have to go back to “repetition, repetition, repetition” to embed it in my heart and mind. It helps to do some of that repetition in creative ways, though. Looking forward to Kathy’s tips tomorrow.

    • July 1, 2010 10:12 am

      Yes, Julie, I am the same way! I tend to work on memorizing what I am studying … and verses that address my “issues.” 🙂

      • Kristi permalink
        July 2, 2010 12:34 am

        That is exactly how I always choose my next verses to memorize, Teri! 🙂 (Both of those things. :)) What I’m reading or what I’m struggling with. 🙂

  2. Kathy Howard permalink
    July 1, 2010 11:45 am

    Thanks Teri Lynne! Great reasons to hide God’s Word in our hearts. I have committed to memorize two passages a month for 2010. It has been a challenge but I’m loving it!

    • July 1, 2010 12:28 pm

      Wow, Kathy! That’s awesome. Casiday & I are memorizing a passage from Philippians together this summer. And I keep an ongoing list of passages I want to memorize in my journal.

  3. Cyndie Casey permalink
    July 1, 2010 1:13 pm

    Scripture memorization is something I’ve enjoyed since the early days of my walk with Christ. However it took turbulent times for me to learn why God have given me this passion. Those scriptures have give me the peace, guidance and answers I needed in the tough times, helps me in daily decision making and so much more.

    • July 2, 2010 12:01 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how a passage memorized in days gone by brings such peace and comfort in the timing of the Lord?

  4. JoAnne Butler permalink
    July 1, 2010 1:34 pm

    I can tell you two of things I have surrendered to that have been most effective in my own spiritual growth: service, and Scripture memory. And both done with consistency will yield noticeable soul-blessing progress. I think mainly because denial of myself is emphatically involved (turning the “I don’t have the time or energy” into “I will make time for this!”) Specifically, Scripture memory re-writes the conversations we have ever-speaking in our minds and develops in us an eternal way to talk to ourselves, to think, and to decision make. It causes us to “hold to a pattern of healthy words.” And, mannnn, do I ever need that! How gracious is our God to give all that we need to think and behave well, and above all, in a manner that is pleasing to Him!

    This week I’ve been working on Job 36:16 in the NIV– “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” Love His Word! Like Jeremiah, I can truly say it is “my joy and my heart’s delight.” It’s how we learn Him!

    I also love today’s post! Wonderful! Keep up the really good work!

    Because of Him,

    • July 1, 2010 2:12 pm

      JoAnne, thanks for sharing that! Good, good words!

    • July 2, 2010 12:02 pm

      JoAnne, you are such a blessing to all of us here at SD! Thank you for your comments and encouragement. And for faithfully sharing what God is teaching you … what a joy!!

  5. July 1, 2010 4:28 pm

    Honestly, I gave up on memorizing scripture until I had my son. I realized that there are cd’s full of songs that sing about scripture for kids. My favorite is Seeds Family Worship. The songs aren’t cheesy and they get stuck in my head! Perfect since that is exactly what I want! It’s a lot easier to memorize scripture to a song than to try and recite it.

    • July 1, 2010 9:33 pm

      I love Seeds as well, Nicole! What a great ministry they have. I listen to their music online while I’m studying and it is such an encouragement.

  6. Alexis permalink
    July 1, 2010 5:12 pm

    I have memorized Scripture since becoming a Christian but lack consistency to review so they get forgotten. When I do memorize it’s usually Scripture that tug at me or deal with my issues/struggles.
    Looking for forward to Kathy’s post tomorrow.

    • July 1, 2010 9:33 pm

      Alexis, you will find some great suggestions in Kathy’s post tomorrow. Making the time to review is a struggle for me too … I often end up working on the same passage again at a later time.

  7. July 1, 2010 8:05 pm

    I started working on scripture memory last year with the Living Proof Scripture Memory challenge. That gave me accountability to memorize scripture, I am currently doing the same thing over at the Point blog this year. I am doing 2 verses a month. Choosing verses by topic, usually something I am going through or dealing with at the time. My new verse I’ll be working on the next 2 weeks Psalm 107:9 (Using the Topical Scripture Memory Plan, from Kathy Howard’s Discipleship Tools page).

    Last year I worked on small passages, but found that overwhelming when life got a little crazy. I decided to work on a verse or 2 at a time this year. It is much more mangeable for staying consistent, even when life goes haywire. 🙂

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s post.

    • July 1, 2010 9:31 pm

      That is awesome, Marita! Thank you for sharing what you are doing. So encouraging to hear how others are incorporating Scripture memory into their lives.

  8. Kristi permalink
    July 2, 2010 12:45 am

    I usually do about one note-cards’ worth a week. 🙂 That’s usually all I can handle and giving myself the time limit of a week makes me actually WORK on it throughout the week (I’m a big procrastinator! If I have an open-ended time to memorize it, I NEVER will!!). I put it on cards all around the house, car, etc. and try to read it when I see it and recite it over and over in my mind. Also, I write it out LOTS! I have a notebook just to write, write and write my weekly verses. 🙂 It makes a huge difference in my daily life, I think, because I have scripture “on the mind” SO much more than I would otherwise!! I stopped for like seven months after I had my little girl in the fall and just got back on the wagon again 😉 about three weeks ago. I forgot how much I enjoy it!! 🙂 Yay! Thanks for the posts. 🙂

  9. July 6, 2010 5:14 pm

    There used to be an old commercial about a guy who loved his electric razor so much that he bought the company…

    Well, I found memorizing Scripture so difficult, that I decided to build an iPhone app that would allow me to memorize Bible verses and passages in a way that was fun and possible wherever I may be. The Lord put this in my heart and has enable me to touch tens of thousands of our fellow Christians by making it easier for them to Memorize God’s Word.

    I wrote a blog post about the importance of memorizing Scripture a few months ago: I’m no Teri Lynne or John Piper, but I thought it was kind of cute:)

    Thanks for your great post Teri Lynne!


    • July 6, 2010 5:19 pm

      Petra, you are so funny! I’m no John Piper, that’s for certain. Thank you for sharing your link and for using your technical abilities to help others with Scripture memorization. What an incredible gift!!

      • July 6, 2010 6:21 pm

        Thanks Teri Lynne, and God Bless!

  10. July 9, 2010 9:44 am

    Scripture memory has only recently become a big part in my life. I used to memorize verses here and there but couldn’t recall them very well. Now, I’m memorizing large chunks, chapters, and even books of the Bible at once! It has completely transformed my memory time, recall and mind!

    I used to think memorizing a chapter or book of the Bible was impossible. But, it’s actually much easier since you have the full picture and context in your mind. Basically. I work on 2 verses per day, review it all on the weekends, and after I’ve memorized a chapter I spend a week or so going over and over it.

    I’ve found that car rides (when I’m not with the family) are great opportunities to review, review, review.

    I’d love to know if anyone else memorizes this way.

    • July 9, 2010 10:16 am

      I love your method of memorizing large chunks of Scripture. I have memorized all of Philippians and did it similarly. I memorized sections and then added the sections together. There is great power in memorizing significant portions of Scripture … and I encourage people to set that as their goal.


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