Back to the Basics: Memorizing Scripture

When I was growing up, Sunday School was next to Godliness. We never missed. While Sunday School may be a thing of the past to some, there were some great things learned from that form of teaching.

One of the things I remember most is memorizing Scripture. I was trained to memorize all sixty-six books of the Bible. Rehearsed verses over and over until we had them memorized. I knew from different places in the Bible, especially the life of David, that it was important to put Scripture to memory.

  • Always be ready to give a defense for your faith

  • Hide God’s Word in your heart

  • On Your law I meditate day and night

I knew it mentally, but was unsure of why it was important for me practically. Here are a few reasons why it matters practically for each of us.

  1. It’s a matter of Obedience - Scripture calls us to memorize the Word of God. Out of obedience alone this is a discipline we should be developing.

  2. It’s a matter of Discipleship - Not only our own discipleship, but also for those we are leading. Memorizing Scripture leads us toward spiritual disciplines and toward abiding in Christ daily. Putting Scripture away into our hearts and minds long-term feeds us when we don’t have a physical or digital Bible in front of us.

  3. It’s a matter of Evangelism - For instance; Muslims take memorizing the Quran very seriously. When they meet a Christian who can’t quote any Scripture from the Bible, Muslims might assume you don’t take your faith very seriously, so why should they. I know stories of Christians who have earned the right to be heard in Muslim circles simply because of the fact they have Scripture memorized. Scripture memory earns you the right to be heard in many circles.

If you struggle with Scripture memory but recognize the need for it, here are some fun and practical ways to help you begin memorizing Scripture.

Device Wallpaper

There are some great apps out there that can make you feel like a true artist. Canva, Word Swag and more can turn your text into a great looking graphic. Put the verse you are memorizing onto a graphic and turn it into a phone or tablet wallpaper. When you close an app or have your home screen open, your memory work is right there in front of you as a reminder to commit it to memory.

Here are a few to get you started.

3X5 Notecards

The flip side of using apps and technology is going old school. Grab a pack of 3X5 notecards and write your memory work out. Jot down Joshua 1:8 for instance and keep it in your pocket, laptop carrying case, briefcase, portfolio or the dashboard of your car. Every time you see the card, take a minute or two to work on the verse and commit it to long-term memory.

Art

Look at Notre Dame in Paris or the Sistine Chapel and you quickly realize the art that has been lost in the church. We have opted for efficiency and stewardship without the ornate artistry in many cases. A case could be made for both, but that is another post. My point is simply this: take a verse you are memorizing and commit it to art.

  • Paint it on a canvas

  • Draw it on a sketch pad

  • Create a picture that tells the story of that verse

Use the artistry and creativity God has given you to commit Scripture to memory through art. Make it beautiful. Make it yours. Put some heart and soul into it and you will find that verse sticking with you long-term.

Alarms

When I was committing John 14:21 to memory recently, I used military time to set an alarm on my phone. At 2:21pm every day an alarm would go off with the name, “John 14:21.” I would pause at that alarm for a minute or two to practice memorizing it and to read over it a few more times. Alarms can be a great way to put your memory work in front of you on a daily basis.

Music

You don’t have to be a musician or songwriter to do this. It’s your personal quiet time of abiding with Christ in the Word. Hum the verse to yourself. Sing it. Put it to the tune of your favorite song. This creative way of viewing Scripture can be very beneficial to committing it to long-term memory. Just be careful because when someone asks you about that verse, you’re likely to sing it for them.

Meditate

You may memorize best simply by meditating on Scripture. You’re reading along and God collides with you over a particular verse and you think, “I have to memorize this.” So maybe you take time to simply meditate. You reflect on the verse and read it over and over and over, applying it to different areas of your life and realizing how God’s Word is still living and active. This kind of intense reflection can be a great way to memorize Scripture.

Make It Fun

Share with someone you trust that you are working on memorizing Scripture. Tell them they have permission to give you regular pop quizzes to see how you’re doing. It’s simple to remember a verse you have just read off a note card or stared at on your device. But when you are in the middle of something entirely different, trying to get work done, taking a day off and your mind is nowhere near that verse, a pop quiz can be a good test to see if the verse is making its way to your long-term versus short-term memory.

Find someone who will try and throw you off so badly you can’t remember the verse. In Christian love of course. Make it fun.

Memorizing Scripture allows us to abide in Christ daily.

Memorizing Scripture is crucial to our disciple making efforts.

Memorizing Scripture is an act of obedience as followers of Jesus.

What verse are you going to commit to long-term memory this week?