One of the spiritual disciplines that has helped me grow spiritually is that of memorizing Scripture. The Psalmist wrote,
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11)
Scripture memory is one of the best ways to transform your heart and mind. Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote,
Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization. (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7).
Consider the benefits of Bible memorization from the Biblical Counseling Foundation’s discipleship manual entitled, Self‑Confrontation,
- Helps to renew your mind and change your thought life, establishing permanent change in your entire manner of life and conduct (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2-3).
- Follows the example of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:1-10).
- Equips you to use Scripture in everyday situations (for example: Acts 2:16-21, 25-28; 3:22-23; 13:40-41, 47).
- Allows God’s Word to be the foundation of your life (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
- Provides guidance (Psalm 119:24, 105).
- Develops confidence in witnessing (Isaiah 55:11).
- Establishes a fountain to conquer temptation (for example: Matthew 4:1-10) and to gain victory over sin (Psalm 119:9-11).
- Becomes an integral part of your prayer life (for example: Acts 4:24-31).
- Enables you to teach, counsel, encourage, and build up others in the Body of Christ (Colossians 3:16).
- Provides a basis for meditation On God’s Word (Psalm 119:15-16, 97).
- Makes the Word of God readily available for comfort (Psalm 119:52).
- Keeps God’s Word ready to refresh or revive (Psalm 119:93).
- Provides stability in your spiritual life (Psalm 37:31; 40:8).
- Gives you the truth so that, at times of need, you are ready to answer others concerning your source of hope (Proverbs 22:17-21; 1 Peter 3:15).
So how do you get started? As you read the Bible start identifying key Scripture passages. I started years ago with The Navigator’s Topical Memory System. Here are some guidelines I developed for my students that may help you,
1. Choose a time and place where you can focus on memorizing the passage.
2. Check the context carefully to make sure you understand the meaning and application of the verse.
3. Read the passage out loud. Picture the the verse and read it slowly until you can repeat it confidently and without error.
4. Break the passage down into a natural cadence of phrases.
5. Repeat the reference often to help orient you to the verse’s biblical neighborhood. Say the reference “fore-n-aft” – before the verse and after the verse.
6. Underline the words or phrases you stumble over to help you walk securely through the passage.
7. Keep these three principles in mind:
Impression – make sure you see and hear each word of the verse
Association – relate the verse to your existing knowledge
Repetition – use spare moment throughout the day to review your verses
There’s no time like the present to get started. Be encouraged as God changes you from the inside out,
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
Follow me on twitter: rickhiggins5