I have right now a stack of Bibles on my shelf, one on my bedside table, and another in my car. My children all have at least one Bible. They’re in the pews at church and handed out on campuses, available in almost every hotel room I can remember.
But so many never have that kind of access to the Word. In the 1950’s, in the harsh totalitarian regime of communist Soviet Union, a secret network of house churches brought students together for a conference. The conference was illegal, the house churches illegal, but worse — it was illegal for a parent to teach his own children in his own home about the Bible and Christianity.
Not one of the several hundred students attending the conference had ever owned a Bible.
During the week-long conference, the youth met every morning in small groups to see how much of the four gospels they could remember by heart. By the week’s end, they had recreated Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with only 12 mistakes.¹
Maybe your jaw hangs open as mine does at that story. Students who’d never had a Bible but were rich with the Word. That’s the beauty of memorizing scripture — when you know God’s Word by heart, it’s yours to keep.
I fell into memorizing large chunks and chapters of scripture almost by accident. Though I’d grown up active in church, scripture memory was completely foreign to me. But I wanted it for my kids. So one weekday, I gathered up kids and we started in with Psalm 23. One verse a day, some days just repeating and refining, and little by little we got it.
We went onto John 15, followed by Psalm 1 and others. Days turned into months and years. I had no idea then of the huge rewards I’d reap for those 10 minutes each weekday. I am a different person today for memorizing scripture. It sculpted my heart and helped make a warehouse of truth mine.
Why memorize scripture? These 7 reasons are a start.
1. Memorized verses are yours when you don’t have a Bible. In the car, on a run, rocking a colicky baby in the wee hours or immobilized for hours in that MRI. Memorized verses are yours when you want or need them.
2. Memorized verses are yours for deep Bible study. Memorizing scripture makes for slow Bible study. Memorizing one verse at a time allows you to really consider, dissect and apply it. It helps you chew on each phrase, word choice, prepositions and connecting words for layer upon layer of deep understanding.
3. Memorized verses are yours to confront the enemy’s lies. Our thoughts can so easily be clouded with fear and and the world’s served-up twisted truth. Memorized verses are like an internal fact checker. They’re a virus scanner that helps keep our thoughts clean of lies.
4. Memorized verses are yours to encourage you. Passages we’ve memorized come back like old friends. For years after memorizing Psalm 139 with my kids, I’d awake with its words running through my mind. That is the best kind of wake-up. They were a love note from God to me each morning as I prepared for the day.
5. Memorized verses are yours to encourage others. One way to let our conversations be full of grace and seasoned with salt is to share scripture. Friends have used scripture to help me soften my heart, clear my understanding and guide my thinking and my actions.
6. Memorized verses form your faith. Memorizing scripture cements truth in our heart. You cannot practice the words of Psalm 91 day after day without knowing deep down that God is infinitely trustworthy.
7. Memorized verses are yours when you need them most. Verses memorized on the ordinary days will anchor your soul on dark and painful days. They’re an investment which you’ll draw on over and over again on hard days.
If you’ve never memorized scripture on your own or with your family, it’s never too late to start. It’s a great day to find a good passage in your favorite translation and just press go.
If you’re wondering HOW to go about it? In Tips for Starting and Thriving in Scripture Memory, I’ve shared favorite tips from our experience as well as others who have shared with me.
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¹This story is recounted by Nik Ripken in The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected.