Why would we memorize Scripture as opposed to just reading and studying it? Would we get out on the road without making sure that we have gas in our fuel tank? If the fuel is depleted en route, we would be stranded on the side of the road. Would a soldier engage in warfare without taking his loaded weapon to the fight? You get the idea. Memorizing Scripture gives us immediate access to truth as we encounter the various circumstances of life.
The summer before my senior year in college, I went to a spiritual life conference where the speakers stressed heavily that we work to make Scripture memory a regular way of life. I was convinced. The problem was that I just never got around to it! It takes a definite commitment to set aside time and have the discipline to be consistent. I was just not mature enough to even try to get started. Then, as I began my final semester at school, I felt a new sense of urgency. I was about to go out into the real world. I was somewhat anxious about that, so I decided to try memorize Scripture.
I didn’t even know how to start. What would I memorize? I had a New Testament that I carried along with my books to classes. After my first class, I went to a quiet place upstairs in the University Center. I would scan through the pages looking for something that I sort of understood-–something that “hit home” to me. The first one I came to was Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-–which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Those verses jumped out at me. I read them over and over-–phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence–until they were stored away in my mind. Then I came to Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Then I came across another one that hit me -– Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
And so it went. I would scan the pages until I found something that I somewhat understood and seemed to need at that point in my life and I would memorize it. This practice prompted a season of growth that, at the time, I was not even conscious of. The whole process was simply getting me in the Word like never before. As a result, I began to question the validity of ideas that I had been taught earlier in my life. I began to see that many of these just weren’t supported by Scripture. My prayer life became specific and focused, and although my tendency toward anxiety was still there, I now had a Scripture-based means to cope with it. I was gaining a confidence in the power of truth and that made me want more of it! As time went on, I began to recite Scripture to the Lord as well as to myself as I would encounter challenging situations.
And now, after many years, I look back and am thankful that by God’s mercy and grace I am still in the fight. I see just how life-changing it was when the Lord got me started memorizing his Word so that I could take it with me wherever I go.
Written by Bill Flynn