If the spiritual disciplines were personal hygiene, then scripture memorization would be like flossing. I know I should do it, I know it’s good for me, but I still don’t do it. Now, I have a cavity. Blah!
So, why don’t I memorize scripture?
Here’s my guess: because it’s work. It takes some serious effort to get those words off the index card and into my rather dense brain. So why should I even bother memorizing scripture? If it’s so much work, why make the effort. Here’s what I’m beginning to figure out:
1. For our holiness
Psalm 119:11 says, ” I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The word of God is a sin-killing sword. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to help us put our sin to death and overcome temptation. However, it’s very rare that I have my Bible sitting next to me when temptation comes my way. And so I must memorize scripture for the purpose of holiness. I must fight the promises of sin with the superior promises of God – promises like Psalm 16:11, which says, “…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The Holy Spirit uses scriptures we’ve hidden in our hearts to help us overcome sin.
2. For our happiness
Each day we will face some degree of trouble. Some days the troubles will be minor, like a flat tire, or a speeding ticket, or an unexpected bill. Other days the trouble will be massive, like the death of a parent, or the discovery of cancer. The word of God is what sustains us, and gives us joy and peace in the midst of trouble. If we want to honor God in our trials, we must memorize promises like Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” You will face troubles, I promise you that. Ready yourself for the storm by memorizing God’s word.
3. For our prayers
The promises of God are fuel for passionate prayers. When we pray we should in a sense argue with God, presenting to Him the promises He’s given as ground for our prayers. For example, when I pray for someone to be saved, I can plead 2 Peter 3:9, which says that God is patient, “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God Himself has told me that He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I can plead this verse to God, presenting it to Him as a reason for saving an unbeliever.
After you floss for a while, it becomes easier and easier to do it. Your gums and teeth become acclimated to the constant cleaning. Likewise, memorizing scripture, in theory, should become effortless. Or, at least I hope it will.