“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world
that we should be holy and blameless before him…”
– Ephesians 1:3-4, from memory
I’m in the middle of intentionally memorising the book of Ephesians, in light of our church’s upcoming sermon series through the same book.
I was convicted about scripture memory, funnily enough, after getting stuck into PokÃ©mon Go, the new game that’s taken the world by storm. I was reliving my childhood! I could join a diverse, passionate community! I could escape into an alternate universe!
After a few weeks, however, the novelty wore off. I could see how it was sapping away at my attention in other areas. And then in God’s kindness He reminded me: I could catch all these imaginary monsters, become the most successful PokÃ©mon trainer, and it would have no lasting, eternal value. God graciously allowed me to repent of my idolatry, and believe again that Jesus is more satisfying than all the PokÃ©mon in the world.
Perhaps in your case it’s not an addictive augmented-reality game that chips away at your time and attention. Perhaps it’s your newsfeed, Netflix, or Instagram, or YouTube videos, or NBA, or Xbox, or fishing, or cars.
But imagine if all the 2-3 minute snatches of time throughout our days could be redeemed by “letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly”. Think of the value of having God’s living and active sword memorised, ready to be wielded when you need: when you’re bored, when sharing the gospel with a friend, when counselling someone, when you’re tempted to sin (like Jesus was in the wilderness).
Andy Davis (a pastor in the US) points out, memorising scripture seems to be the most obvious way to follow in the footsteps of the blessed man in Psalm 1, whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
I’ve managed to “recruit” a couple of others so far on this journey through the verses of Ephesians, so we can “catch ‘em all” — all of God’s Word, that is. So far it’s been refreshing and exciting to memorise Scripture. Reciting each word and phrase repeatedly is like watching tea leaves steeping into water. Or like muscles being strengthened. Or like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season. And even if I forget what’s memorised, it’s comforting to know that the time spent meditating on, and storing up God’s Word in my heart was still edifying and worthwhile!
So if you’ve never considered scripture memory as a worthwhile habit to cultivate (like prayer, bible reading and so on) — or perhaps like me, you have found all kinds of excuses to avoid it, here are some helpful links to inspire you, and show you how to start.
- Ryan Ferguson recites Hebrews from memory
- John Piper recites Psalm 1, Psalm 16, Psalm 103, Romans 5:1—8, Romans 8, Matthew 6:25—34, and 1 Corinthians 13 from memory
- David Platt recites Romans 1-8 from memory
- Andy Naselli recites 1 Corinthians from memory
- Jon Bloom – 10 reasons to memorise big chunks of the Bible
- Andy Davis — an approach to extended scripture memorisation
- Memorising Scripture — an interview with Ryan Ferguson
- ScriptureTyper – I use this on my phone and it’s great
- Fighter Verses – app from DesiringGod
I hope to share a couple of interviews with people in future who have quietly gone about scripture memory, and hear how storing up God’s Word in their hearts has shaped them.
“I have stored up your Word in my heart
That I might not sin against You.”
– Psalm 119:11