Why Memorise Scripture?
At DFC, in our midweek Bible Study and Prayer Meeting I have been leading a series on have handling the Scriptures. So far we have looked at the topics of the Bible and the Christian, Reading the Bible, Meditating on the Bible, Learning the Bible. I have a couple more sessions up my sleeve on hearing and studying the Bible.
In last night's session we looked at reasons for memorising Scripture. The Bible speaks much of knowing the contents of the Bible such that it is in your heart (Ps 119:9,11). Memorisation is a good practical application for following this example and has blessed the saints through the centuries.
So here are nine reasons. They are not original - you can find plenty of such lists around the web of varying degrees of complexity. But here's my tuppenceworth :
- It Aids Meditation
- It Brings Encouragement
- It Shapes Prayer
- It Equips for Service
- It Helps in Temptation
- It Transforms Minds
- We Imitate Jesus and the Apostles
- We Can Redeem the Time
- It Prepares Us for the Worst
When a part of scripture has been learned, it can be meditated on anywhere, at any free moment without worrying whether you have remembered it correctly, or whether you have access to a Bible. (Josh. 1:8, Ps 1:2)
Scripture blesses us as we think about Christ, his work, and remember the promises God has given us. We grow in our knowledge of God. It becomes a delight to us to review what God has said. Scripture memorisation builds us up in faith and love for God.
Knowing scripture helps our prayer lives. We can ask God to fulfil his promises, ask for help for repentance, obedience as sins and commands are shown to us. We can memorise prayers in the Bible (e.g. the Lord's prayer, or Paul's prayers for the churches in his letters) and use them to shape our own praying. As we know God's ways better and better through the Scriptures, our prayers are more and more conformed to his will.
In three ways: first, in obedience. When we know what we should do we are better able to do it! Second, you are able to help other Christians understand better. The ability to turn to a passage which addresses a particular problem is extremely helpful. Third, you are able to show a non-believer that the Bible really says what you say it is saying! You become a better witness to the gospel. (1 Pet 3:15).
In combating the temptations in the wilderness Jesus recalled Scripture to combat the twisted statements of Satan (Luke 4:1-13). His response every time was, "It is written…" If we have scripture in our minds then we are equipped with a vital piece of weaponry to combat Satan's wiles (Eph 6:11) and wage effective spritual warfare. (See also Ps 119:9,11.)
Memorisation aids in the process of transforming our minds from a worldly pattern to a godly one. (Rom 12:2)
It seems clear that Jesus and the apostles knew scripture by heart. While resisting temptation, teaching others, suffering on the cross Jesus knew the OT scriptures. Peter was able to preach a sermon on Pentecost which made frequent reference to the OT. It must have been in his memory for recall, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Having verses in your mind helps you make good use of spare moments, rather than daydreaming. In the car or bus, doctor's surgery, on the bike, as you lie down! Lots of places and times for meditation. You no longer to worry about whether you have remembered it correctly, or whether you have access to a Bible.
There have been times in this country when it was a dangerous thing to carry a Bible. In our day there are many places in the world where it is still dangerous. In those places because Bibles are scarce, believers make a habit of memorising. It may seem far-fetched, but not inconcievable, that a time may come once again where it will become difficult to have, obtain or keep a Bible. It would be a wise thing to be memorising scripture for our own good.