In January it will be 16 years since I started memorizing Scripture in earnest. I had sporadically learned a verse here and there through the years up to that point, but it was always a half hearted effort with many excuses as to why I couldn’t memorize. Bruce & Bev were a couple who lived in our town and attended our church for 14 years before moving to Colorado. They’ve been gone a while now, but while they were here, Bruce taught our adult Sunday school class at church. He was an excellent teacher and we learned and grew significantly because of his ministry. One of the things I admired about both Bruce and Bev was their dedication to memorizing Scripture. Bruce often challenged the class to memorize certain portions, but I resisted that challenge for a long time. Finally, during one class time, Bruce dared the whole class to memorize Psalm 91 as he taught through the psalm. I decided to take the plunge. That first chapter took a long time, but what a blessing to be immersed in God’s precious Word as I ruminated and meditated over the verses in my effort to commit them to memory. After it was memorized, I decided to take on another Psalm. Well, one chapter led to another until here we are today – 16 years later.
There are many benefits to memorizing portions of the Bible.
1. It’s good exercise for the brain and helps keep you sharp.
2. It gives you something to think about in odd moments.
3. You have something to occupy your mind when you wake up in the middle of the night.
4. It keeps you in close contact with the God of the universe.
5. It helps you to know God’s thoughts and ways.
I think the spiritual benefits far outweigh everything else, but the whole person (mental, physical, etc.) reaps great rewards from being constantly in the Word.
You know how some people break out into song when they hear certain phrases. Well, memorizing Scripture does the same thing for you. When you’re in certain situations or hear certain words or phrases, it reminds you of a Bible verse or chapter. I read The Hidden Smile of God by John Piper, a biography of 3 men, one of which was John Bunyan. John Piper quotes Charles Spurgeon, who read The Pilgrim’s Progress every year, as saying of John Bunyan:
“He had studied our Authorized Version… till his whole being was saturated with Scripture; and though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress – that sweetest of all prose poems – without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.“
I was so impressed by the example of John Bunyan. Wouldn’t it be great…instead of feeling overwhelmed at trials and hard times, I would be able to “bleed Bibline” and be comforted and encouraged in my faith and walk with the Lord.
I still wouldn’t say I’m a great memorizer, but in 16 years, I’ve developed my method.
1. I type out the passage I want to commit to memory.
2. I put that section of verses into a notebook I keep at the treadmill.
3. When I do my exercising, I repeat the verse until I know it and can go on to the next one.
4. It works!
So now, I’m wondering, what should I memorize next? I’ve been thinking about Psalm 119, because each verse in all 176 verses mentions God’s Word. But yikes! 176 verses! It will probably take another 16 years to memorize just that one chapter.
- by Phyllis Wallin