Let's talk about spiritual disciplines. That's a church-y term that essentially describes a set of practices that we incorporate into our lives to mature in our faith and grow closer to God. Some spiritual disciplines you may already practice include things like prayer, journaling, daily Bible reading, and so on. A really great spiritual discipline to develop, and one that I personally struggle with, is scripture memorization. We're going to talk about why you should memorize scripture and how to do so as well.
WHAT ARE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?
First, let’s start with what spiritual disciplines are not. Spiritual disciplines are not simply good habits that incorporate your faith, or hobbies that help you feel closer to God. (For example, it’s great that hiking makes you feel closer to God, but hiking is not a spiritual discipline.) Spiritual disciplines are also not attitudes, like a forgiving attitude, for example.
Don’t confuse spiritual disciplines with fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23) These are outputs of your relationship with Christ, and, subsequently, outputs of your spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines are things you do, but as I mentioned a moment ago, not just any activity can be considered a spiritual discipline.
Spiritual disciplines are actions that you do both on your own or corporately (in the church) that are modeled in the Bible or taught by the scriptures, and bring you closer to God and help you practice godliness.
Consider actions that Jesus modeled during His ministry:
- Solitude: He regularly went away by Himself, away from His disciples
- Prayer: Jesus prayed both privately and in groups
- Fellowship: spending time regularly with other believers
- Study: spending time in God’s word
And that brings us to scripture memorization.
WHY MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE
Let’s start with what I would consider the most convicting reason to memorize scripture:
Because Jesus did it.
Think about it – Jesus quoted scripture constantly. Granted, He is God in human form, so He knew the Bible inside and out, but if we are trying to be more like Jesus, we need to do what He did.
Think about when Jesus would quote scripture. Let’s look at just a famous scenario, shall we?
Remember this? Jesus was tempted by the devil, and each time, He responded with scripture.
The devil tempts Jesus three times, and three times Jesus fights back with God’s word.
(Side note: you may notice another spiritual discipline in Matthew 4:2 – fasting.)
We are more able to fight back against the attacks of the devil by knowing and using God’s word. Scripture even tells us that God’s word is our weapon:
So, why memorize scripture?
A. Because Jesus did.
B. God’s word is a weapon against the enemy.
Do you need another reason? Okay…
Because we are called to do so.
If we strive to live a more godly life, and look more like Jesus, we must adopt the spiritual discipline of memorizing scripture.
Now, the next question…how?
HOW TO MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE
I’m going to say something that might hurt your feelings a little bit, depending on your daily habits:
You cannot memorize scripture if you are not reading it in the first place.
So let’s start there. If you want to begin memorizing scripture, you have to first develop the spiritual discipline of reading your Bible daily. D-A-I-L-Y.
Okay, so if you are already reading your Bible regularly, how can you commit scripture to memory?
REPITITION – REPITITION – REPITITION
Did I repeat myself? Yes, yes I did. And you should, too.
When you are working to memorize a passage of scripture, you need to incorporate several different methods for consuming the words:
#1 – Read it.
#2 – Write it.
#3 – Speak it.
#4 – Sing it.
#5 – Listen to it.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Think back to your childhood. You probably had a favorite book that your parents read to you over and over again. My mom has told me that she walked into my room one day when I was only two or three years old, and I was “reading” my favorite story out loud. I couldn’t read yet, but I had heard her read it to me so many times, that I memorized the story.
There are a lot of exercises that can assist you in memorizing passages of scripture. Here are a few that I personally love:
Print out the passage and place around your home, office, car, etc.
Focus on one passage of scripture at a time. Type or write the entire passage on notecards and place them in prominent locations where you will see it as you go about your day. Each time you do, pause and read it, say it out loud, and try to recite it from memory.
Break it down and write it out.
If the passage of scripture is multiple verses, focus on one verse at a time. Read that verse, recite it out loud, then write it down. Do this repeatedly then move on to the next verse.
Once you’ve done that a few times, put it all together.
Mix it up and reorder phrases.
Break the passage into phrases. You can write these phrases on strips of paper. Spend some time putting the phrases in the correct order.
Fill in the blank.
Write or type out the passage and leave sections blank. You can go back in and fill in the blanks to complete the passage.
First letter of each word.
This is probably the most effective method of memorization for me personally. Write out the first letter of each word. You can use this two ways:
#1 – write the words next to each letter to complete the passage
#2 – point to each letter as you speak the word to speak the entire passage
SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION WORKSHEETS
I’m very excited to help you memorize scripture using all of the methods listed above, all in a bundle of handy worksheets that you can print and use over and over until you feel comfortable with your recall.
As of the writing of this blog post (January 2024), I have created worksheet sets for four passages of scripture, and they are available in HCSB, ESV, and NIV translations. More to come!
If you are working to cultivate the spiritual discipline of memorizing scripture, grab a set of worksheets and start working on your first passage.