Let’s make a list of essential Christian disciplines, shall we? These would be activities that are a “must” for any believer to live in accordance with the will of God. Here are the first things that come to my mind:
Local church involvement
Acts of mercy to those in need
What else? Am I missing anything?
There is one activity that I intentionally omitted, just to see if you’re paying attention. Let me give you a few hints.
Chuck Swindoll has this to say about it: “No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!”
John Piper says, “I wish I could persuade everyone to do this.”
Dallas Willard says it is “absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation.”
Have you figured it out yet?
It’s Bible memorization.
Perhaps you are doing everything listed above. You pray and read the Word daily. You’re active in your local church, where you attend worship services regularly and serve faithfully. You share your faith when the opportunity arises. You give a portion of your income to the church and other Christian organizations and make it a point to help the poor.
But when is the last time you memorized a verse of Scripture?
I’ve been convicted of my own lack of discipline in this area recently, mostly because of John Piper’s website. He has several powerful articles on the subject. All the quotes above come from http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/memorizing-scripture-why-and-how
Over the past few years, I’ve done some Bible memorization. I’ll be faithful for a week or two, but then stop doing it. I’m baffled by this inconsistency, because I have experienced what Swindoll says – “No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!”
Last summer our pastor preached a sermon on Psalm 100, and he challenged us to memorize the entire psalm. It’s only five verses. The following Sunday he asked the church if anyone had done that, and not a single hand went up. I started the process and had memorized the first three verses by then, so I couldn’t raise my hand. I finished verses 4 and 5 during the second week.
So it took me two weeks to memorize five verses.
And you know what? That simple exercise took my intimacy with Jesus up a notch. This has happened before – whenever I memorize Scripture, my awareness of God’s presence becomes greater and deeper. I pray more and with more intensity. I can testify that “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding . . . than memorizing Scripture” (another quote from Chuck Swindoll).
Right now I’m working on Psalm 40, which has 17 verses. I worked hard on the first 10 verses for two weeks. Then I took some time off. And now I’ve resumed my quest to master the entire psalm – 7 verses to go!
I’ve never memorized a passage this long. But the verses I’ve learned so far have become so precious to me! And so has King Jesus! “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). Amen!
Bible memorization is not just for children. It’s for every disciple of any age. Do you desire deeper fellowship with your Lord and Savior? Start memorizing Scripture.
If you’re new to this discipline, start with one verse every week and see what happens. You can even begin with familiar verses such as Psalm 23. Psalm 100 is another great place to embark on the joy of hiding God’s Word in your heart. Over the next month or two, why not commit to learning one verse each week, and work your way through a five or six verse psalm?
What do you say?
For many helpful tips on the why’s and how’s of Scripture memorization, visit