Most books on spiritual disciplines include the discipline of memorization. Most of us memorize scripture in Sunday school or youth group, but then we stop. However, anyone who has seriously memorized scripture will testify that memorizing scripture is a powerful discipline to make us more effective Christians.
Memorizing scripture for meditation
We have seen that meditation is an important aspect of our quiet time, and I know it is easy to neglect. But meditation doesn’t need to (or should) be restricted to a particular time of day. Some of the richest growth I’ve had is when I’ve meditated on a verse or passage of scripture that I’ve memorized throughout the day.
To learn and retain a verse or passage of scripture we need to recall and rehearse our memory verse throughout the day and at different times of the day. Repeating scripture to ourselves throughout the day is almost exactly the biblical idea of meditation.
There are numerous times of the day which lend themselves to this pursuit. As a guide, think about how many times each day you look at social media. What if you used that time to memorize scripture? Would that make a difference to your spiritual growth? [shareable]Think about how many times each day you look at social media on your phone. What if you used that time to memorize scripture?[/shareable]
Memorization of Scripture gives you a reason to meditate through the day as well as the content for meditation. As you reflect and think about the words and concepts of that text, your concern for holiness and obedience will grow, and the benefits of meditation will become yours.
Memorizing scripture to know the will of God
Paul wanted and prayed for Christians to know the will of God (Col 1:9). We certainly learn what God’s will is through reading the Bible, but memorization allows us to lock away aspects of God’s will in our hearts that are relevant to us.
Thinking deeply about what God wants from us is important because the situations we encounter on a day to day basis are often not particularly clear. Knowing generally what God says is great, but memorizing the text allows us to ponder more carefully how the will of God as explained in that passage applies to our particular situation. If we haven’t memorized it, and we’re not reviewing it, it is not likely that we’ll recall it to mind think about what God desires from us.[shared]Memorization allows us to lock away aspects of God’s will in our hearts that are relevant to us[/shared]
Memorizing scripture to apply the word of God
When God commanded Joshua to meditate on the word of God (Josh 1:8), the central reason was “so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” It is important that we think about the things before us. Yet, we are also to live and act according to what God wants us to do. He has given us the Bible so that we can know what it is that He wants of us. Reading and memorizing the word both have the effect of making us careful to do it. But memorizing and meditating on the word of God has a greater impact than reading it. We will be more careful to obey it when we encounter the Word in our natural habitat. [shareable]Memorizing and meditating on the word of God has a greater impact than reading it[/shareable]
Memorizing scripture to prevent sin
We often find the brutal confrontation of self in the Psalms. David, in particular, expresses his weakness toward sin. Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession; Psalm 32 looks back on his time in sin to teach the value of repentance. In Psalm 119:11, the author explains why he memorizes scripture, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
The Psalmist recognized the connection between memorization, meditation, and obedience. To avoid disobedience, the psalmist memorized and meditated on the word of God.[shareable]To avoid disobedience, the psalmist memorized and meditated on the word of God[/shareable]
Memorizing scripture to minister to others
John Piper told of a time when he was called to a hospital room and asked to comfort a family by reading scripture to them. Unfortunately, because he had been in a hurry to get there, he didn’t have his Bible with him, so was unable to offer that family the comfort from the Scriptures that he wanted to give them. As a result, he swore to himself to never let that happen to him again. How did he prevent that from happening? He began to memorize the scriptures.
Since he started, he has memorized entire psalms, and books (the first 16 minutes of this message are of Dr. Piper reciting memorized scripture). Memorizing scripture has provided him not only with opportunity for deep meditation, but also the tools to be able to offer comfort and exhortation from the Word of God without having to find and thumb through a Bible to do it.
Our presence will bring a degree of comfort and encouragement to others. But ultimately, what we all need is to know what God says. What God thinks of us and our situation is infinitely more important than what we think. Memorizing scripture keeps God’s thoughts at the front of our mind, where they are ready to be shared with others.[shareable]Memorizing scripture keeps God’s thoughts at the front of our mind, where they are ready to be shared with others[/shareable]
Having the word of God in printed form has been a rare thing throughout history. In the last 600 years, the printed text and the word of God have become common, but with that familiarity, we’ve come to neglect the memorization of the word of God. Throughout history, Israel, and then Christians committed large segments of scripture to memory. They did this so that they would preserve the Word of God within them, and it had a profound effect on them as they were guided by what God said. We ought to value the word of God in the same way and seek to let it have the same effect on us. As we do, we will become more effective as Christians, and the impact left by the word of God on our lives will be evident in the lives of those with whom we spend time.
[reminder]How has memorizing scripture helped you?[/reminder]