In my youth I remember the feeling of accomplishment I had when I memorized Bible passages such as Psalm 23 and the Ten Commandments. I'm glad I learned them years ago and know them by heart. Timeless passages such as these can powerfully influence a child "in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
American King James Version×) and can be valuable practice for any child of God—of whatever age.
An article titled "In Defense of Memorization" from Education Reporter states that memorizing can "etch the ideals of their civilization on children's minds and character." It adds, "The Greeks discovered that words and sounds—and the rhythmic patterns by which they were bound together in poetry—awakened the mind and shaped character."
This article, published in October 2004, discusses how this valuable learning tool declined rapidly after 1940 and, by 1970, was largely dead. Is it any wonder that a society that no longer memorizes the Ten Commandments, no longer knows, keeps or values them!
Though my two girls haven't had to memorize any classical works that I know of, often I delight in hearing them running laughingly and flawlessly through the lyrics of their favorite songs and funny YouTube videos. It amazes me how easily they recall whole sections of dialogue when they put their heart into it.
Memorization of the Bible will work toward that very end when it comes to putting the Word of God into our hearts and the hearts of our children!
Elizabeth George, whose books for Christian women have sold more than 4.8 million copies and are often used at UCG women's retreats, passionately advocates memorizing Bible scriptures as a part of meditation and Christian growth. She recommends carrying around 3-by-5 cards, making time for this vital activity, often just by taking advantage of downtime that commonly fills an average day.
"Meditation also involves memorization," states Mrs. George in Following God With All Your Heart. She explains, "That's what the psalmist described when he wrote, 'Your word I have hidden in my heart' (Psalms 119:11 Psalms 119:11Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
American King James Version×)...David desired God's Word in his heart—not just in his hands and his house. There it could be taken or stolen. No, it had to be in his heart! He valued the law of the Lord and considered it a treasure worthy of being stored in the very core of his being."
What's the connection between memorization and meditation? Memorizing a verse takes time, perhaps going over and over it for several days. Having it prominently in mind naturally leads to pondering it; and, in addition, you will be paying attention to every word of it.
As an example, let's say while memorizing Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×about choosing life, a scripture you thought you knew well after decades in the Church, you suddenly take note that the payoff is not just for you but also that "your descendants may live." Perhaps this "ah-hah!" insight would compound your desire to choose God's way because your decision is bigger than yourself and will affect your kids and heirs to come!
Available When Needed
When Christ was tested by Satan for 40 days and 40 nights, Satan tried to "cover Him" with deception. How was Christ able to answer each temptation with "It is written..."? He didn't open E-sword on His laptop! Of course, Jesus was the Living Word, and He had inspired every word of the Bible. It was in His heart, and He lived every word of it! How much effort then should we put into internalizing the words of life?
Years ago in Spokesman's Club we made a concerted effort to memorize the key passages and subject areas of the Bible and would regularly drill each other to learn that Hebrews 11 was "the faith chapter," the Ten Commandments were stated in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, and so on. That effort helped immensely in "knowing our Bible" and being better prepared to "give an answer" (1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version×, King James Version) if called upon.
On a recent "Good Friday" my boss asked me if I would be working. When I said yes, he responded, "So, I guess they didn't count that one right either." While pausing to see if he really was looking for an answer, I was silently thanking God that we had long ago taken the time to memorize Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
American King James Version×as the location of Jesus' statement about the only sign of His messiahship being Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.
Ready for the Famine of the Word
Memorizing key passages that inspire us and admonish us can be of tremendous help to us today. (See suggestions in sidebar.) But now is the time to prepare for what is prophesied for tomorrow. Amos 8:11 Amos 8:11Behold, the days come, said the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
American King James Version×promises: "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.'" For those who argue, "Why memorize when I can look it up so easily?" dire times are coming when we may not have computers or Bibles handy. Jesus warned, "They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons" (Luke 21:12 Luke 21:12But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
American King James Version×).
U.S. Senator John McCain spent 51/2 years in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam after being shot down in his Skyhawk dive-bomber on Oct. 26, 1967. Of his wretched conditions, including solitary confinement for two years, he wrote in U.S. News and World Report (May 1973): "It's vital to keep your mind occupied...I had read a lot of history. I spent days on end going back over those history books in my mind...I thought a lot about the meaning of life...People have asked me how we could remember detailed things like the tap code, numbers, names, all sorts of things. The fact is, when you don't have anything else to think about, no outside distractions, it's easy."
We've learned hymns that are based on the Bible, many paraphrased right out of the Psalms. Even when we don't have a Bible handy, we are singing the Bible. For example, "Mine Eyes Upon the Lord Continually Are Set," is based on Psalm 25, and singing it reminds us to do it!
For youths and adults alike, memorizing the Bible is a reasonable and rewarding challenge because it has so many benefits for today: stimulating the mind, shaping character, promoting meditation, writing the Word of God in our hearts, building confidence in God and preparing us for coming challenges. Challenge yourself and give memorizing some of God's Word in your heart a try. UN
Encouraging Memory Scriptures
The following are some suggestions of Bible passages to memorize that can give you confidence and encourage you in your pursuit of your goals.
Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."
Joshua 1:9 Joshua 1:9Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
American King James Version×: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Hebrews 4:15-16 Hebrews 4:15-16  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
James 1:2-5 James 1:2-5  My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;
 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."