Memorizing Scripture

Our church family at Westwood Baptist is reading through the Bible together this year—we have a passage to read from the Old Testament and New Testament every day. But in addition to reading Scripture, we’re also memorizing it. Our pastor, Jason, has challenged us to memorize one passage of Scripture each month. In January, we memorized 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

This challenge from Jason convicted me of how little Scripture I have memorized. I know the Bible “staples”—John 3:16; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20; Philippians 4:13; John 11:35. But other than those, I’m not doing so well.

I can quote Jane Austen books, act out entire movies and sing the entire soundtrack to Frozen. Obviously I have no excuse for not memorizing Scripture. The Bible contains the very words of God. It’s so much more important than anything else on my bookshelf.

Dallas Willard, a Christian author and teacher, wrote this in his book The Great Omission:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to—and of course I don’t have to—choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life and take only one, I would choose Bible memorization. … Bible memorization is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what they need … Muttering Scripture. You meditate on it day and night. … Keep it, and therefore God, before your mind all the time. Can anyone really imagine that they have anything better to keep before their mind?*

Here’s what I’m hoping to gain as we read through the Bible as a church family and memorize Scripture:

A deeper love of God’s Word. The words I’m memorizing—they come from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I lose sight of that so much. I forget that these words were simply penned by man but breathed out by God alone. I want to cultivate a deeper love for God and His Word.

A defense against temptation. Do you remember when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert? What did Jesus do? He recited Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11). Storing up God’s Word in my heart is a weapon against temptation and sin (Ephesians 6:10-17; Psalm 119:11).

A desire to share Scripture with others. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The Bible isn’t just for me and my spiritual growth. My hope is that diving into the Word will produce a desire in me to share the Word with others.

During the month of February, we are memorizing Psalm 19:14. How relevant it is to our memorization challenge!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


*Dallas Willard, The Great Omission (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2006), 58-59.
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