Our souls need healthy rhythms in order to flourish in the “race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). One of those rhythms is the practice of storing up God’s word in our hearts. I’ve found, in my own life, that the rhythm of scripture memory is often an overlooked practice. In talking with others, I know this oversight extends beyond me. Many of us are quick to recognize our need to know God’s Word better, but for one reason or another, we simply don’t hide it in our hearts. We listen to God’s word preached, we read it for ourselves, we even take time to study the Word; all while neglecting to memorize it. Hear the psalmist in Psalm 119 say “I love your word.”
Intentionally memorizing scripture is an act of faith. We are communicating that we believe God when he says that His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), breathed out by Him and profitable (1 Tim 3: 16-17), that it transcends generations or cultures (Isaiah 40:8), it is sweeter than honey, more desirable than gold (Psalm 19) and that it should richly dwell in us (Colossians 3:16).
Perfect recitation is not the goal. It is expected that we will struggle in this endeavor. Struggle is part of the journey whenever we learn to live in God’s strength and not our own. I fully acknowledge that this practice is more challenging for some than others, especially as we age. Our goal cannot be perfection. We should strive to do the work while trusting the results of that work to God. Our aim should be to intentionally try. God’s word has the power to change us, and we can leave the results to the Holy Spirit. His Word will not return void and there are only benefits to be gained in this endeavor.
Benefits of Memorizing God’s Word
Consider just a few of the benefits of memorizing God’s word…
- We will gaze upon our Savior. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, MIND, and strength (Mark 12:30). Consider Psalm 19 as it talks about the beauty of God and His Word.
- We will fight against our sin. Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Jesus set the example for us when he was tempted by Satan. He refused the lies of Satan by quoting scripture. God’s truth was his lamp in those moments, and it was readily on his lips. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- The truth will more readily be on our lips, both for our own benefit and for the benefit of those we love. Our lips speak from the abundance of our hearts (Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45). Memorizing God’s word helps our self-talk/thinking to more naturally be rooted in God’s word. If our minds have been storing up the Word of God, we can access it quickly and share it with ourselves and others.
- Our prayers will become richer and more direct because we are praying His Word back to Him. Consider praying the powerful truths of Ephesians 1!
- Future benefit. The seeds of truth that we plant now will be used during the trial we will face in years to come. In those moments, the Holy Spirit will be able to bring to our remembrance words of great comfort because we took the time to store it up in our heart. Proverbs tells us to consider the ant and be wise; she gathers food for times of winter (6:6-8; 30:25).
- We will combat the discouragement of today. There’s a lot of discouragement and gloom to go around in this life. We are naturally drawn to it. Predisposed to fear and to brood on life’s sorrows. Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- We will know more about who our God is. Memorizing, done correctly, isn’t just a practice of remembering words. It is the process of dwelling on truth and taking time to understand the meaning of the verses with their surrounding context. Since the Bible is a book about God and His redemptive plan, we will come to know who He is, how He works, and what He is as the Holy One.
Examples of Why We Should Memorize God’s Word
In a conversation with a more seasoned sister in the faith, she shared with me her grief of seeing many aging saints face life’s difficulties without the rich truth of God’s word readily on their minds. She made a keen observation; that once the inevitable trials hit, we can’t draw from a reserve that which we never intentionally stored up. In those inevitable moments of life’s trouble (John 16:33), the Holy Spirit will take the truth that is planted deep within and set our hearts and minds on the peace that only He can give. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose MIND is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3.
Darlene Deibler Rose was a missionary that survived four years in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. She wrote in her memoir “Evidence Not Seen”:
As a child and young person, I had a driving compulsion to memorize the written Word. In the cell I was grateful now for those days in Vacation Bible School, when I had memorized many single verses, complete chapters, and Psalms, as well as whole books of the Bible. In the years that followed, I reviewed the Scriptures often. The Lord fed me with the Living Bread that had been stored against the day when fresh supply was cut off by the loss of my Bible. He brought daily comfort and encouragement- yes, and joy- to my heart through the knowledge of the Word.
Paul, the apostle, wrote that it was through the comfort of the Scriptures that he had hope and steadfastness of heart to believe God. I had never needed the Scriptures more than in these months on death row, but since so much of His Word was there in my heart, it was not the punishment the Kempeitai had anticipated when they took my Bible.
There are many helpful tools and varied tricks out there that aid in memory work. For me, the best tool has been God’s people. What a joy the people of God are! Memorizing the Word with my sisters in Christ has been a huge blessing to me. We pick a passage, break it up into 2-3 verses a week, and check in once a week to recite it to one another (often imperfectly and sometimes with many prompts). I cannot tell you the joy it has given me to do this with a community of believers. The Church (that is people that belong to Jesus Christ) is a gift to us all. I have been met with much encouragement and helpful accountability. We aren’t meant to walk this life alone. Let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-25). Church, let’s be faithful to intentionally try to memorize together and trust that God will produce fruit as a result. Remember that the goal is not perfection rather a faithful pursuit toward His Word.
Jessica is the wife of our Senior Pastor, Nathan Smith, here at Heritage. She has a heart for women’s ministry and encouraging ladies to ground themselves in the truth of God’s Word through Scripture memory.