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What Do We Get out of Scripture Memorization?

What Do We Get out of Scripture Memorization?

In college one year I took a history class that focused entirely on Stalinist Russia. (It was not the most uplifting class.) But one of our assignments was to read a biography of a woman who was arrested and put in various prisons and communist work camps. One of the things she did to keep her spirits up, and to encourage her fellow prisoners, was to recite poetry from memory.

My professor asked us what we would recite if we ever found ourselves in a similar situation. Some people said song lyrics, some said favorite stories from movies or books, and some did say they would recite Scripture. But my professor’s question to all of us – especially those who said the Bible – was how much would we actually be able to remember?

Everyone has a favorite song or two, and every Christian has a favorite Bible verse. But how much of the Word do you actually have memorized? Lord forbid any of us should find ourselves in a situation like the woman in my class discussion. But even in everyday life, we remember that “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).

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Family reading the Bible together

Why Memorize Scripture?

Scripture memorization sounds like one of those things we were forced to do as children, and are glad to be away from now as adults. But rather than viewing it as a chore, we should rejoice to have access to the Holy Word of God whenever we want it! Further, memorizing Bible verses isn’t something we do as a chore, or to show off our vast knowledge to others. We do it for two reasons:

1. Because God commands us to remember His word.

2. Because we desperately need it, every day.

The first point should come as no shock to us. God tells us in the beginning of the Bible, in Deuteronomy 11:18-20, to “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Joshua 1:8 encourages us with this: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

In the New Testament, we are also encouraged to read and study Scripture. Jesus tells his disciples in John 8:31-32 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

These verses alone should prove my second point, that we desperately need God’s Word every day of our lives. The Deuteronomy verse, in context, is telling the Israelites that if they follow God’s commands and His ways, then they will defeat their enemies and dwell in the land God has promised to them. Joshua tells his listeners that meditating on the Word and following it will make us prosperous and successful. Jesus promises nothing short of freedom.

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back view of a girl reading the Bible on the beach

What Do We Get out of Scripture Memorization?

“I have written your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

There is so much to be gained from memorizing Scripture. It is the path to life for us, and the only way to grow closer to our Savior. But let’s break down a few of the best benefits.

1. Knowledge

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

The Bible is true and factual. All of it. Given the incredible spread of information in our modern world, it is easy to find things that are false – especially things about faith, the Bible, and God. Even the article you are reading now was written by someone imperfect. No article, no speaker and no blogger can be trusted as much as the Bible.

To memorize the Bible is to have the answers to so many of life’s problems. David wrote that “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

We will come up against questions in life. These questions may be about our finances, our families, our political leanings, our jobs, our faith, or any number of other things. Having an understanding of Scripture will give you the knowledge to face these questions. Like the Bereans mentioned in the verse above, we should measure everything up against the Bible.

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names of god, jehovah-shalom

2. Assurance of Salvation

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

The hymn “Come Thou Fount” says it best: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it for Thy courts above.” We are all prone to wander away from God’s path. When we neglect time in the Word and don’t have these verses memorized and written on our hearts, it is easy to forget our salvation.

This forgetfulness leads down only one of two roads: despair, or pride. On the one side, we understand that we are sinful, but we despair that we have no power to save ourselves. On the other side, we think that we are doing pretty good, all things considered. We are then in danger of thinking, in our pride, that we don’t actually need salvation.

Scripture reminds us of the Gospel message. All are fallen and sinful. None of us have the ability to save ourselves. But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Remind yourself of this frequently, and be confidant that God loves you. There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

3. Courage

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Jesus never promises us an easy life following Him. But He does promise that He will be with us every step of the way. And if the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that there will be plenty of unexpected challenges in life. Everyone will have something that drives them to their knees or makes them shake with fear. When earthly comforts won’t suffice, we need the ultimate peace that God offers in His Word.

We will need courage in this world. We need it when we face difficult circumstances, and we will need it to bravely spread the Gospel to a broken world. Find strength in the Word to do all this and more. Even if you aren’t facing any difficulties now, memorize those power verses now, so that you are ready when something does come up. Use these verses of strength to encourage yourself, or share them with a friend in need.

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Senior man writing in a notebook

5 Tips for Memorizing Scripture

As you start to pick a few verses or passages to memorize, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Memorize accurately

These words are important, so put in the effort to get the verse memorized correctly. It’s ok to mix up words as you are starting out, but don’t settle for good enough. Take the time to get it right, so you have the meaning straight in your head.

2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Especially if you are starting off, stick with some shorter verses. There are some incredible longer passages in the Bible, but if you start out with such a big goal, you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you do decide to memorize a whole passage, break it down into shorter chunks, that way you can build on it. If the passage is 15 verses long, then perhaps memorize 2 or 3 verses at a time.

3. Try hand motions

I know it seems silly, but in my personal experience, hand motions are something that help preschoolers and college students alike. The motions can help jog your memory of certain words or phrases, and acting the verse out in some way will solidify it in your mind. You don’t have to perform these hand motions in front of anyone, but give them a try and see if it helps you remember.

4. Put the verse where you will see it all the time

I have two verses on a piece of paper taped to my bathroom mirror. Put yours on the fridge, on the front door, on your desk next to your laptop, on the front page of your journal or a book you’re reading – wherever you will see it regularly, add Scripture. The more the words are in front of your eyes, the more likely they will stick there.

5. Memorize the verse reference, but focus more on the words themselves

This may be controversial, but I think it’s far less important to memorize the verse reference than the words themselves. It’s important to know where a verse is located in the Bible so we can understand the context and who is speaking. But if, in a moment of need, you can recite John 3:16 to yourself, that’s more important than knowing that it can be found in the third chapter of John. If the verse reference keeps eluding you, but you’ve got the words of Scripture memorized, I think that is enough.

So where to get started? I’ve sneakily added several verses to this article, and any one of them would be great verses to memorize. This list is directed at children, but includes several short verses that are easy to remember, and are as beneficial for adult hearts as they are for kids. You can also take a look at some lists of Bible verses for specific needs or life seasons. If you are struggling with fear or anxiety, these lists can help. Perhaps you want to embrace joy more in your life, or want to learn more about something like sanctification.

Truly, it doesn’t matter much where you start or which verse you memorize first. All of Scripture is valuable, and any verses you study and memorize will help guide you. Good luck!

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Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study and the design editor for She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.