Jon Bloom on Why Scripture Memorization Is Relevant to Everyone

One of the most beneficial spiritual disciplines for me has been memorizing long portions of Scripture.

Now, before you click away because you assume this article isn’t relevant to you, or because you want to avoid another guilt trip that you’re not measuring up to some spiritual Christian standard, would you give me a couple of minutes? I’d like to make a case that memorizing long portions of Scripture is indeed relevant to you and is not about your measuring up, but about your joy.

Confessions of a Bad Memorizer

I know that for many, joy is not the word they associate with Bible memoryBoring or can’t do it or undisciplined might be what comes to mind. I know. That was me.

I remember once, as a young adult, deciding I should take Bible memory seriously. In the flush of idealized resolve, I bought a Navigator’s Bible memory system. As is typical of idealized resolve, it dissipated after a couple of feeble tries, and the system then went unused until I eventually threw it away.

Years later, when my church leaders encouraged members to memorize certain verses each week, I was hit-and-miss. It wasn’t a faulty program; it was a faulty me. I had a fairly bad memory to begin with. I would memorize initially, but it seemed I just lost it so fast. I figured I would never do well at memorizing.

Plus, I harbored some skepticism about whether Bible memory really made much of a difference. I figured it was good—like a comprehensive workout at the gym is good—but I wondered if the actual value wasn’t somewhat inflated, considering all that extra work and time. I had some theological education, attended a theologically rigorous church, read theological books, was involved in Christian ministry, and generally read through the Bible every year in my devotions. How much more would memorizing do for me?

A Memorable Discovery

It was actually an experience in my devotions that pushed me toward a memorable discovery. In my late 30s, I had just completed the book of Hebrews (again) in my reading plan, and it left me a bit frustrated. Hebrews is so rich, so full of glorious truth. But every time I read through it, it was like I just skipped across its surface. I wanted to dive in.

Then I had this unusual thought: I need to memorize this book. Wouldn’t that get me deeper into it and have it get deeper into me? Then I did math: 13 chapters and 303 verses. Seriously? Could I, a bad memorizer, memorize 303 verses? And retain them?

I knew that John Piper used a memory technique taught by pastor Andrew Davis to memorize larger blocks of Scripture. So I decided to try it.

I found this technique worked! It took me quite a while, but I committed all of Hebrews to memory. And as I did, it was like swimming in the book. Deeper dimensions of the text and its application opened up for me. I followed the author’s flow of thought in ways I hadn’t seen before. I learned the warp and woof of each chapter. But more than all that, there were moments I worshiped Jesus as I saw him through the lens of this book—moments that I had not experienced in my read-throughs.

That experience of more profound worship of Jesus made me hungrier to know even more of him. So after Hebrews, I made the crazy decision to memorize the book of John. It took a long time, but again, it was wonderful. It was a long, deliberate, nourishing walk with Jesus. From there I went to Romans, then to Philippians, then to 1 John, then to 1 Corinthians (which I nearly completed—I need to get back to it), and then to a number of psalms.

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Source: Church Leaders