Today's post was written by Brook Hills member, Kristen Shaw.
I remember very well attending a conference at my family’s church in Indiana back in February 2014. Pastor John Piper was the speaker, and he started the conference by reciting the book of Philippians. By memory. He asked that we close our Bibles and just listen as he challenged us with the words of Paul. The conference made a large impact on my life. One of the main things that God did during that time was challenge me on the discipline of memorization.
I left that conference thinking that memorizing large passages – and definitely an entire book – would be nearly impossible. And what is the point of memorizing when we can just read it in our Bibles? Memorization is difficult. It doesn’t come naturally. If I fail, then I will just feel let down. Those are a few of the things that were running through my head. But so were verses like Psalm 119:11 which says, “I have stored up your word in my heart.” Memorization is a way we can store up God’s Word and go back to it over and over again.
My desire is to tell you: (1) how memorization has changed my life, (2) the challenges I have faced, (3) provide resources to encourage you that you CAN memorize, and (4) give you a challenge.
How Memorizing Scripture Has Changed My Life
Let me start at the end and say that, two years later, memorization has been a tool God has used in my life to teach me, mold me, reveal sin in my life, comfort me, sustain me through hardships, draw me closer to family, and learn to really meditate on His word. I left the conference and decided that I would start with Philippians after studying it that weekend. After Philippians, I memorized Romans 8. Then the book of Colossians. Now, I am memorizing the book of Romans with my brother.
I am so thankful that the Lord put this challenge in front of me right before my husband and I went through the most difficult two years of our lives. The Lord has used time in the Word, and memorization, as a way to sustain my husband and me and to remind us that in Him we have HOPE. As Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in Heaven!” What a wonderful reminder that this is not our home and that, as Romans 8:26 says, we have a loving Savior who cares so deeply for us that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Memorizing Scripture, particularly during and before suffering, helps to keep our eyes pointed above and reminds us of what Paul said in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Challenges I Have Faced
As with any discipline, it is so easy to get discouraged. I have found in life that, if I do not do something perfectly, I tend to want to stop that discipline rather than seek the Lord’s help with my imperfections and struggles. But I have realized that this is pride in my life. It challenges me to question my motives of why I am doing something. I find that when I am not spending enough time with the Lord, memorization becomes a “to do” on my list, and I am easily overwhelmed. But when I am seeking the Lord, memorization is a joy and something He continues to help me do even when it is difficult.
After two years, I have learned that memorization often leads to meditating on God’s Word later on. What if I don’t have the words perfectly? Has it been wasted? NO! By memorizing and focusing on a chapter, we learn it so much more. This allows us to encourage believers, explain to non-believers, or have access to his Word if we are ever in a country where we can’t just pull out a Bible openly. And when you study that Scripture, it is amazing how God continues to teach and sanctify through a passage you have read so many times before. Often, memorization leads to “what does this mean?” which leads to reading commentaries, listening to sermons, finding articles, and asking questions of mentors and friends. And God will use all of this as a tool to sanctify us!
Here are two articles that really do a great job of going deeper into why, as believers, memorizing large chunks of Scripture is so life changing. I would ask that you read these before just saying “I can’t do it!”
- "Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible"
- "14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible"
We must remember that good habits may be hard to form, but they are worth it! And we have the Lord to help us. Here is another article giving an idea of how to memorize. Pastor Piper mentioned this, and this is the outline I have used to guide me as I memorize Scripture.
The last tool I will mention is accountability. My brother and I have memorized together, and we email each other the daily verse every day and encourage each other to continue. When I have a week where my memorization is more like “reading” and where I have “failed” by my Type A personality standard, he encourages me to continue. He reminds me of the end goal to understand and know the Lord and to know His Word.
My Challenge to You
Here is my challenge to you:
- Read the above articles I mentioned. Even if you stop there, it will be an encouragement!
- Then, for the next month, pick one passage of Scripture to memorize. If you don’t have one in mind, I’ll suggest Philippians 3, Romans 8, or a Psalm that has meant a lot to you. At the end of that month, see what has happened. I guarantee, regardless of if you can “perfectly” recite that Scripture, it will have been worth every moment memorizing and meditating.
- If it has made an impact on your life after those thirty days, then find someone to hold you accountable and memorize the next Scripture together!