The Most Rewarding Spiritual Practice (And How You Can Do It)
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
Chuck Swindoll once wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture… No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, 61).
Perhaps this is surprising to you? I must admit, I’m a novice when it comes to the practice of Scripture memorisation, and have not graduated beyond the usual suspects (Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, some of John 1, Romans 8, etc.). I’m currently in the process of trying to commit Psalm 1 to memory (not yet successfully).
The Bible itself commends the practice of Scripture memorisation, both by edict (e.g., Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Colossians 3:16) and example (e.g., Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11). Because, as Swindoll and the Bible itself point out, the benefits are numerous. Memorizing Scripture renews our mind (Rom. 12:2), strengthens us for the fight against temptation (Eph. 6:10-20), supports our efforts to obey (Psalm 119:9), deepens and corrects our understanding of God and his will (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and makes us wise (Luke 2:52). We cannot afford to not do it.So, the question becomes: How do we do it? The short answer is repetition over time. Begin with a short verse (see below for a suggested list) and work through it, word by word, phrase by phrase, line by line, reading it out loud, whispering it, praying it, writing it down, doing whatever it takes to commit it to memory. To help you do this you might want to print the verse out and stick it somewhere visible (your mirror, fridge, car, desk, etc.). Or you could make it the wallpaper on your phone or computer. Or you could just read, review and repeat it during your daily Bible reading. The point is to have this verse or passage before you regularly so you can push it down deep into your heart and mind.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive system and some more structured support, you could download the ‘Fighter Verses’ app from Desiring God ($4.49 in the App Store).
How might your life and faith be transformed by committing the precious truths of Scripture to memory? The point is not to puff us up but to draw us near to our God in deeper devotion and greater Christ-likeness.
With you on the journey,
P.S. Why not begin by memorising the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) to go along with our current series? Or try one or all of these following passages: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:5; 1 John 1:9; Acts 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 73:25-26; Mark 8:35-36; Romans 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:13; Ezekiel 36:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Hebrews 4:15-16; John 1:1-2; Psalm 27:4.