Memorizing Scripture?

posted in: Uncategorized, Worship | 2

I’ve been thinking much about this the past few weeks, more in terms of how it is done/why it is done more than if it should be done.

I grew up attending a Christian school where I had to memorize a verse each week and write it out on the lined paper we buy in bulk at the beginning of the school year.  When I got to seminary, Dr. Nelson made me memorize longer passages of Scripture, including Ps 19 and Col 1.  These were very beneficial, even if I did cram them in at the dinner table at Lolley right before class over a bowl of cereal or kim chi.

Now I am pondering the mode of Scripture memory or why we want (especially children) to memorize Scripture and how we get them to do it.

Piper wrote a helpful article, one with which I definitely agree.  How can we get children and teenagers to understand this.  How do we put this forth as an example to others?  This is from a friend, Tim Challies: (which one is most compelling to you and what Scriptures are you memorizing right now?)

A friend recently sent me an old article from John Piper entitled “Why Memorize Scripture?” Memorizing passages of the Bible is something I’ve developed more of an interest in over the past couple of years and, to my surprise, I’ve found that I’m actually able to do it–even to memorize extended sections if I am willing to put in the effort (not always a sure bet).

Piper offers a list of reasons why we should memorize Scripture. They are:

  1. Conformity to Christ – Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.
  2. Daily Triumph over Sin – As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
  3. Daily Triumph over Satan – When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight.
  4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love – When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.
  5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers – Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn.
  6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways – The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help to live a life that reflects the value of these attributes.

These are six really good reasons. On the flip side, I suspect that the primary reason most of us do not commit more Scripture to memory is simply the difficulty involved. It is a difficult and time-consuming process to take those words and force them into our minds.

So how about you? Is Scripture memorization a part of your routine? Is it something you do as a regular part of your devotion to the Lord?

My answer to my posed questions from above:

1.  Definitely 1 and 2.

2.  Romans 8 and Col 1

2 Responses

  1. Sarah (from See Sarah Eat)

    I have a few (short) verses memorized because I refer to them often in my daily life so I remember the words (John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Eph. 2:8, etc). The oft-used 1 Cor. 13 I know most of because I’ve heard it so many times (praise God!) and had it read at my own wedding.

    But I don’t think I have ever purposefully sat down and memorized scripture for the sake of memorization. I went to a Catholic elementary school and I don’t remember their being much (if any) Bible memorization. Then I went to public middle & high school and had to memorize the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, both of which I still remember (most of). But those reasons listed above are making me think a lot about memorizing scripture. I like reasons 2, 4, and 5 especially. Now, what to memorize…

    I know there are many different perspectives out there. My mom is a volunteer for our AWANA program at church and her job is to make sure the kids recite their “memory verses” each week. She says there is just something so neat about seeing a child recite the Word of God and that it is sure to be beneficial to them as well.

    But then a couple friends of mine attended a Christian school (K-12) and had to memorize verses every week and it was not approached in the warmest of ways. They said they recall being scared and embarrassed in front of their peers if they messed up at all, so that impacted their perception of what it meant to read or study the Bible. So much so that it was many years before either of them cracked open a Bible again (thankfully, they have now).

    Very interesting post!

    • kimddavidson

      I’ve been thinking much about Awana too. Mainly the reasons they want to memorize – the dangling carrots and the stickers and the vests and the I memorized more than suzy, etc. Tough line of behaviorism