The art of memorization is becoming increasingly less prevalent in modern Western society. However, Christians hold the view that the Bible is the unchanging, living and breathing word of God. Despite easy access to pull up Bible verses on our cell phones or quickly look up a verse in one of our many Bible translations, Scripture memory still carries great significance in the lives of believers today.
“Scripture memory helps to keep the Word in my mind and heart,” said Andrew Pepper, sophomore Christian studies and intercultural studies double major. “As I memorize a section, I find myself thinking about it more, and thus it slowly changes me. It keeps me more in tune with God and helps me better understand the nature of his word and his son.”
Pepper shared how crucial it is to be consistent and accountable when approaching Scripture memory. He advised that breaking down longer sections into smaller ones helps to memorize the scripture as a whole.
“Scripture memory is important because it’s important to know the Word for your life,” said Brianne Jackson, senior theater major with a minor in Christian studies. “We can’t bring our physical Bible with us everywhere we go, and even if we could, we don’t know where every Scripture for every occasion is off the top of our head.”
Jackson explained that need-to-know Scripture is especially important when sharing the gospel in everyday life.
“Scripture memory helps share the gospel on any occasion,” Jackson said. “It also allows the Holy Spirit to bring to mind specific Scriptures at the proper time and in the right situations.”
Jackson shared her technique in approaching Scripture memory, which mirrors the way she memorizes lines and scripts within her theater program.
“I have Scripture memory cards that I like to take with me,” Jackson said. “I’ll mark up the Scripture into sections and walk around while memorizing the verse just like I would with my lines. When it comes to [solidifying] memorization, I have to repeat it five times in a row or break up the passage and memorize one sentence at a time. I write out the entire Scripture on a piece of paper to make sure it’s in my mind.”
Dr. Adamson Co, professor of theology, shared why he feels Scripture memory is important to every believer’s walk with Christ.
“Scripture memory is an important spiritual discipline because it has a way of reaching inside a person’s heart through a very intentional and very personal way of encountering the truths of the Bible,” Co said.
“One Bible passage that supports the importance of this discipline is Psalm 119: 9, 11.”
When asked why Scripture memory is not optional for believers, he explained the connection between intentional thought and behavior. Co argued that memories would inevitably influence our beliefs and behaviors.
“Do we want to be more intentional in the flow of memories that come into our minds which will then influence our living?” Co asked. “For most Christians, the answer is yes. What better way to allow our minds to deliberately collect memories from God’s word, which would then directly move us toward Christlikeness and away from the many other kinds of memories we encounter daily in the world.”
Co explained the direct relationship between Scripture memorization and sanctification, the process of becoming more Christlike.
“Scripture memorization definitely plays a role in sanctification through what Paul calls the ‘renewing of your mind’ (as seen in Romans 12:1-2 ESV) that leads us to Christlikeness,” Co said.
Co provided a couple of methods for memorizing Scripture depending on an individual’s personal preference when it comes to time and dedication to Scripture memory.
“In my younger days, I used the Navigators’ topical memory system,” Co said. The system is a streamlined process to memorizing key phrases in the Bible. “I find it to be very useful and transformative. This method, though, can be very challenging for some people since it calls for a high level of self-discipline. It is well worth one’s time and effort.”
Co also gave the easier alternative of simply re-reading certain Scripture texts multiple times and letting one’s memory take over.
“I suppose this is what God meant when he [spoke] to Joshua [in] Joshua 1:8 or what the psalmist touted as the mark of a godly man in Psalm 1,” Co said.
Psalm 1:2-3 (ESV) reads: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.”