When I was little, my dad helped my brother and I memorize Psalm 23. I remember piling onto my parent’s bed in the evening so that we could sit and work through the verses one at a time. I couldn’t tell you why my dad chose that particular Psalm, but I can tell you that those verses have helped me throughout my life in more ways than I can count. From winning sword drills at summer camp because I could recite the Psalm by heart instead of looking it up to whispering those verses in the dead of night when the weight of anxiety was crushing me, they have remained in my heart and mind through it all. Memorizing Psalm 23 as a child helped me realize how important it is to store up Scripture in our hearts and minds; and how often I fail at doing that.
The more I grow in my faith and surround myself with the Christian community, the more I see and feel the need to keep the Lord’s words close to my heart. They are the only lasting defence against the lies of the enemy. But if memorizing Scripture is so important, why do so many people struggle with it? I used to memorize monologues and scripts for theatre productions without any problem, but when it comes to the Bible, it feels like I lose all ability to remember even what book something is found in. It comes down to whether or not we’re going to let our own excuses stop us from growing in our understanding of the Lord.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
I think that we all too often forget that the Bible isn’t dead words written by dead men. It’s the living, breathing Word of God, written by men through the compulsion of the Holy Spirit. These words aren’t idle, and our attitude towards them shouldn’t be either. Everything that God says and does is purposeful. The Bible isn’t just good words that we should try to follow. It’s a battle plan. It shows us how to live in a holy and pleasing way to the Lord, how to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy, and how to reach people’s hearts for God.
The Bible is described as a sword (Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12), which means that if we aren’t sharpening our skills with it every day, we’re wasting our greatest weapon against the enemy. Which is precisely what he wants. The devil wants us to think that we can defeat him by our own strength because he knows what a foolish lie that is. He wants us to be weak because that makes us easier to take down. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he shot down every one of the devil’s advances by quoting Scripture. He showed us that the enemy cannot withstand the truth of the Lord.
As I look back on the time my dad took to help my brother, and I memorize Psalm 23, I can see that he was preparing us for our Christian walk. He was showing us how to create shields to use against the attacks of the enemy. And I can’t help but wonder how many more attacks I would have been able to endure if I had taken Scripture memorization seriously. Sometimes memorizing Bible verses can feel like a daunting task when you first start, so here are five tips to help you out:
- Start small with a couple verses and work your way up to larger sections from there. You don’t need to try to memorize an entire chapter right away.
- Carry it with you. Write the verse down on a cue card or on your phone, tape it to your steering wheel or somewhere that you can see it as you go about your day (I personally like to write it on my bathroom mirror).
- Find a friend to help keep you accountable or to memorize the verse with you.
- Take it to heart. It can be so easy to turn Scripture memorization into just another thing to check off the Christian to-do list, but this is the word of God; let it change and transform you.
- Keep going. Once you’ve memorized one verse, go onto another one. Keep storing up the truth in your hearts.
Committing God’s word to memory shouldn’t feel like a burden; it’s a joy and a privilege. We get to carry the words of our Lord with us wherever we go! Through trials and triumphs, we know that we can withstand it because God already has the victory.