A 75-year-old woman was constrained to a hospital bed after breaking her back. When a good friend of hers, a missionary, was home on furlough, he visited her in the hospital. She confided in him that she felt aimless because God had no purpose for her in the hospital. In response, the missionary asked her what she had been doing for God lately.
The nerve! She couldn’t move, had cables attached to all sides of her body, and he expected her to do something? He reminded her that even though her body was unusable, her mind wasn’t. He challenged her to memorize God’s Word, so it would be there when she couldn’t pick up a Bible and read. She took him up on his challenge with Psalm 1 and by the time she was released, she had close to the whole book of Psalms committed to memory.
Over 20 years later, the missionary visited her again, and was amazed by the sharpness of her mind. Even more so, he was impressed with her unmistakably deep relationship with God. Then she told him her secret: she never stopped memorizing. She had almost half of the Bible hidden in her heart.
Why Memorize Scripture?
The most common challenge to memorizing Scripture is the accessibility of the Bible. The typical Christian home has multiple copies on their bookshelves. People can download the free apps on their phones, and buy them pocket-sized online or at Christian bookstores. While it is a blessing to have the Bible at our fingertips, we can take it for granted and diminish its worth as commonplace. Keeping Scripture not only in our hands, but in our hearts, is a way to cherish God’s Word—creating the opportunity to meditate on truth and rest in his presence.
Psalm 119 stresses the importance of Bible memorization. Verse 114 reads, “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Scripture gives us endurance to withstand temptation. When we fill our minds with the Word of God, we mentally and spiritually build a barrier between ourselves and the enemy. Imagine each verse as a brick. The more verses you commit to memory, the higher and stronger that wall against the enemy grows.
In Matthew 4, Jesus used Scripture to stand firm against temptation in the desert. He didn’t pull out his pocket Torah and leaf through it until he found the verses he needed. He had them hidden away in his mind, ready to use when he needed it most. The relationship between the human mind and the Word of God is powerful: during dark times, the Holy Spirit calls out these memorized verses to bring you wisdom, strength, and hope.
Memorizing Scripture has emotional benefits, as well. Psalm 119:143 explains, “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.” I know people who have found solace in quoting Scripture, especially in the darkest of valleys, and I’ve lived this reality in combating depression and anxiety in my own life. When these enemies pounce, quoting passages about God’s love, power, and authority brings assurance and peace to my mind.
Myths about Memorizing
Misconceptions abound about memorizing Scriptures. Take these three myths, for example:
Myth 1: I can’t memorize.
If you’re hearing yourself think this, take this three-question quiz:
- Say your home address.
- Write down the synopsis of your favorite movie.
- Give directions from your home to the closest gas station.
If you could do this without looking up the answers, you can memorize. Just as your address is split into short sections, verses are segmented by punctuation. A good example is Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” See? Two short sections. In many respects, memorizing Scripture is no different than memorizing any one of the items above. The more familiar you become with a verse—the way you’re familiar with your address, favorite movie, and directions to local hotspots—the deeper it’s etched into your mind.