Dallas Willard, in his book The Great Omission, repeatedly points to bible memorization as the most important spiritual discipline a follower of Jesus can engage in. His words have motivated me to climb a mountain in memorization. With my son as my coach, I have begun memorizing the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It has really put a log on the gospel fire in my heart.
Here are some reasons why I think memorizing the Bible is so powerful:
- It passively supplies biblical language to your prayers.
- It causes many life situations to bring specific Scripture to your mind.
- It empowers the Holy Spirit to nudge you back toward Jesus.
- It excites your heart–you know that you have locked up treasure when you can repeat Scripture without a Bible.
- It gives you a tangible spiritual reality when so many spiritual realities are intangible.
- It brings joy, all by itself.
- It treasures what God treasures–His words to people.
- It breeds faith and courage.
- It follows you (even when you aren’t feeling up for following Jesus.)
Here are some reasons why I believe we don’t memorize the Bible:
- No one challenges us to.
- It seems like it will be too hard.
- We’re not sure it’s any more valuable than merely reading the Bible.
- We’ve believed lies about what our memory is capable of and so we give excuses: “I’m too old”, “I’m not a good rememberizer”, “I don’t have time to memorize things”.
- We lack tools or methods that would help us.
- We’re apathetic or at least haphazard in our commitment to spiritual growth.
- We’re pretty content with far less than God’s best.
- We’re intimidated by the scope of the whole Bible so we fail to take a small first step in memorizing it.
So please, let me give you this simple, bite-sized challenge:
- read a chapter of the bible today
- pick one verse from your reading
- write it down on a piece of paper
- put it in your pocket
- memorize it before you go to bed tonight
(And no, John 11:35 does not qualify for this exercise.)