Pop quiz time: How many Bible verses can you recite right now word-for-word from memory?
One? Five? Ten?
If you’re like most Christians (including me, unfortunately…) the answer is probably not very many.
Sure, you may know the most common ones–verses like John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11–but with Bibles (and Bible apps!) so readily available, actually committing verses to memory just doesn’t always feel necessary.
So, you want to hear something crazy?
I’m not sure what the practice is today, but back in Jesus’s day, Jewish boys would actually memorize the ENTIRE TORAH (the first 5 books of the Bible) by the time they were twelve. And many went on to memorize much more than that by the time they reached adulthood.
Sure, this was back before the printing press so they lived in an oral culture, but still! It takes a LOT of time and dedication to memorize THAT much Scripture.
And here we are, as Americans, barely able to recite a few verses…
Growing up Protestant, Scripture memorization was a big part of the kids’ church programs I took part in, and it still is today in many Protestant churches.
We had weekly memory verses, Bible quizzing, songs, motions… all sorts of ways to help us commit key verses to memory.
Unfortunately, Scripture memorization is something that’s missing from most adult church programs these days. It’s almost as if we’ve gotten so used to constantly having our Bibles handy, that we’ve lost most of the desire to learn verses by heart.
And yet, while Scripture memorization may be far less common, it’s still incredibly important. Here are five reasons why.
Five Reasons All Christians Should Memorize Scripture
1. The Bible Commands It
While the Bible doesn’t expressly command all believers to memorize a certain number of Scripture verses, there are several verses that make it clear that we should meditate on the Word day and night. It’s hard to do this without memorizing it.
(And even if you did meditate on verses day and night without memorizing them first, you’d eventually wind up memorizing them anyway through the repetition.)
“My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you…
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.”
— Proverbs 7:1,3
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” — Joshua 1:8
“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” — Deuteronomy 11:18-20
2. To Help You Become More Christlike
Want to be more like Jesus? You need to know what Jesus was like. And while God reveals himself to us in many ways, one of the best ways to get to know Him is through reading the Bible.
“The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.” –Samuel 3:21
Simply reading the Word haphazardly isn’t enough, though.
If you want Christ-like actions on the outside, you need Christ on the inside. First through becoming a Christian, then by praying and meditating on Scripture day and night.
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” –Luke 6:45
3. To Resist Temptation
Jesus encountered temptation during his time here on Earth. It should come as no surprise then that we will too.
The good news is: when we have Scripture on our side, we’re better able to stand up under pressure. The not-so-good news is: in order to have that Scripture on hand when we need it, we need to memorize it first!
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” –Psalm 119:11
But hey, if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me too.
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” –Matthew 4:4
4. To Help You Defend Your Faith to Others
If someone were to walk up to you right now and criticize what your faith or your interpretation of the Bible, would you be able to properly defend what you believe and why?
Would you be able to confidently rattle off Scripture to back your position? Or would you simply have to rely on what you think the Bible says or what your pastor has told you all these years and hope for the best?
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” — 1 Peter 3:15
The truth is, if you don’t know exactly what you believe and why, you can’t effectively take a stand for it in front of others.
Not only does this make your faith shaky at best, but it means you’re going to miss out on some great witnessing opportunities as well. And no one wants that.
5. To Encourage You When You’re Down
Having a rough day? There’s a Scripture verse for that.
Whether you’re feeling alone, you want to give up, you’re having a rough day or you’re having trouble sleeping, the Bible contains a wealth of Scripture that can comfort, encourage and strengthen you on the journey.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” –Matthew 19:26
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” –Romans 8:18
Do you intentionally memorize Scripture? What verses do you already know by heart?