He was in the wilderness. He was exhausted. He was hungry and thirsty. He was alone. He was attacked by the Devil. He was armed with the word of God. He was victorious. With confidence in the sacred scriptures, Jesus prevailed against the tempter’s deceitful schemes (see Matt. 4:1-11). The Lord defeated Satan with three verses from Deuteronomy. How much more can you and I resist temptation, live obediently, and endure hardship if we get the word of God into our hearts and minds through scripture memorization?
There are very few spiritual disciples that are more beneficial than scripture memorization. It arms you with truth to resist temptation. It renews your mind as you meditate on scripture. It shapes and strengthens your prayer life, enabling you to pray the scriptures back to God. It makes the wisdom of God readily available for decision-making. It arms you with biblical authority for counseling fellow-believers or witnessing to lost people. It gives comfort in times of grief, sorrow, and persecution. And it fills your mind and mouth with truth to offer as grateful praise to God in worship.
Here are seven steps you can take to begin and stay on track down the narrow but life-giving path of scripture memorization.
1. Have a plan. When left alone, good intentions suffocate spiritual progress. Godly desires must have the fresh air of practical commitments in order to breathe and live and grow. So establish a definite plan for scripture memorization – a plan that works for you. Decide when you will do it. Select what verses you are going to memorize. Have a plan and establish measurable, challenging, attainable goals.
2. Start small. Don’t begin by telling yourself that you are going to memorize a chapter a week. No you’re not. And your failure will only discourage you in the future. Remember, each victory will help you another to win. So start small and build on your successes. One or two verses a week is a good place to begin.
3. Select verses that are meaningful to you. The Bible is filled with hundreds of verses worth memorizing. Many profitable Bible memory systems are also available. And pastors and teachers may encourage you to memorize certain passages. Draw from all of these sources for ideas. But also select your own memory verses. Choose passages that are meaningful to you and that you find helpful.
4. Make memory cards to keep with you. Write out the verse on a card that you can take wherever you go. And when you have spare moments – on a break, in a waiting room, or between activities – you can read, review, and recite your memory verses.
5. Get a Bible memory partner. Do you have a prayer partner? If not, you should. A good prayer partner can give you support, hold you accountable, and celebrate victories with you. A good Bible memorization partner can do the same. Iron sharpens iron. So consider partnering with someone for mutual support in memorizing scripture.
6. Keep practicing your verses. Scripture memorization does not come easy for most of us. But don’t be too quick to blame it on a poor memory. Scripture memorization is spiritual warfare. But our spiritual enemy cannot prevail against the word of God. So keep practicing your verses until you get them down. Then constantly review them. Remember, repetition is the key to memorization.
7. Pray for God’s help. Do you fear that you cannot memorize scripture? Tell God about your fears. Do you need strength to remain focused? Ask the Lord for it. Do you need wisdom for selecting verses or managing your quiet time? Pray with confidence for these things. God is glorified as you learn to think and behave biblically. So labor and pray and trust the Lord to help you to make the word a treasure in your heart, so that you might not sin against him (Ps. 119:11).