When I was 27 in '76, I asked Christ into my heart: the next day, I bought a new Bible and began reading a chapter a day--an easy daily discipline. But oddly, as I was reading, scripture memory just happened. John 3:16 was my first memorized scripture. Then I learned a great verse from Joshua 1:8 "Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, and make sure that you obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Wow! Prosperity and Success. Now that's something we all want, and knowing God's word really does lead you to both, as the following two true stories will reveal.
Jolene Schroeder-- a Christian for 55+ years-- denomination--Catholic
I learned to love Scripture twenty-five years ago when Depression jarred my world, and fear hijacked my sleep, work, and entire life. I could do little else than take care of my family's basic needs and read. While the remedies of antidepressants and counseling stabilized me – I’m extremely grateful for that help – I came to realize that the usual treatments wouldn’t cure me. My spirit was sick in its core, and my depressed condition was simply a manifestation of a deeper condition. I knew I needed a change in my conventional – even Christian – formation.
Desperate to be well, I dug in. I memorized every encouraging truth I could find in scripture. I studied the Psalmists' words of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles. I took these verses to bed at night and ruminated on their encouragements. I was desperate to believe that they might be truly true. Even though a life-long Christian, I was starting over.
Search me and know me (Psalm 139: 23) how I needed God to know me. Thou art intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:3) I needed Him to know what was going on in my body. God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear) but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I didn’t simply memorize the words. I pondered them into my soul.
Healing took time, as healing does. But I gradually began to believe the Scriptures at a deep level.
After getting back on my feet, I determined that I would never again allow myself to be caught unarmed. I’ve continued to memorize spiritual truths, to go to sleep with them, and – when I’ve not been able to do that, to access the store that I deposited into my mind and spirit during those years of memorizing. I’ve added spiritual songs and prayers from the saints. Often, a short line of a verse would be enough to think about and put my mind and body to sleep.
The Our Father/The Lord’s Prayer is my favorite go-to scripture and my best sleep aid. It is rich in truths for blissful pondering and, when taken with the spirit of God’s abundant love for His children, does far more than help me drift off. This perfect prayer frees me from negative thoughts; it eases my anxieties; it relaxes my mind; it sets me free from myself and places me in the loving truths of God’s care. It gives me something far greater than a good night’s rest. The sleeplessness that I dreaded those many years ago converted from being a burden to an opportunity for practicing and refreshing my investment in memorization. Insomnia has become a gift.
I must believe that the devils don’t find much pleasure in wreaking havoc on my nights anymore; in fact, their nighttime harassments only draw me nearer to my Lord.
Psalm 4:8 – In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.
Dixie Moore --a Christian for 55+ years -- denomination--Anglican/ Presbyterian
1. "I have been reading the Bible my entire reading life. When I was young and growing up in the church, I learned much scripture in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Christian Summer Camps. I’m sorry to say that if memorizing scripture means you remember it, that was not generally the case for me.
I have been more drawn to reading scripture, underlining it in my Bible, note-taking, and journaling with it than memorizing it. ( I sort of “chew” on it.) But I am sure that all those activities and contests of memorizing scripture were good for me and definitely gave me a category for thinking about scripture and breaking down verses (to memorize). I think it’s excellent for the brain to memorize. And children developmentally are well suited for it.
You asked about what led me down the path of reading and memorizing scripture... I would say it was faithful adults who laid the foundation for scripture's importance in my life. Faithful teachers at church and my parents and grandparents.
I want to add here the power of learning hymns as children. On a personal note, there were several years in our kid's lives that we all managed to eat breakfast at the same time. During those years, we read “Daily Light'' (a Christian classic that is a short reading entirely of scripture) and sang a historical hymn from the Christian Church. I purchased a paperback hymnal for each person in the family, so they had their own hymnal to write on and make it their own. My kids learned so many hymns; each person took turns choosing the hymn each day. It got to the point that they had their favorites and just shouted out the page number. But I can see that those words also lay a foundation of scriptural truth in our lives.
2. Since I don’t really memorize scripture, I have benefited greatly from being regular in a general way about Daily Prayer and following the daily readings that take a reader through the Old and New Testament and Psalms in an orderly way that follows the church calendar. I have tried many daily bible readings but often get bogged down, fall behind, and give up. The program that actually got me through the entire Bible, a perfect, powerful, life-changing thing to do, was a Bible Reading Program for Shirkers and Slackers - Ransom Fellowship www.ransomfellowship.org. Very worth checking out. No pressure, no failure. I read the entire Bible in three years ( with a house full of kids) and think it’s one of those things that everyone should do at least once in their life. It’s pretty remarkable to read it for yourself. I can say that I think a person actually gets to know God by reading scripture.
I find that doing readings and prayer works better for me in the mid to late afternoon. Currently, it works best for me at my sewing studio desk, where I also have various verses written out on a bulletin board over my desk that I have found very encouraging during this pandemic and general unrest. It is a place of reflection and quiet. I find my thoughts straying in the morning because I am just starting the day. In the afternoon, I am not as distracted.
3. Scripture memory as a child created a category for the breadth of scripture and also the personalness of scripture. As children, we learn many of the verses about God's love for us, his salvation, mercy, strength, values, goodness, and character. The Bible creates a solid and vast framework for living a Christian life, so children need to learn about God and themselves. And because it is God's word to us, it’s how we come to believe in God because we get to know him. Reading scripture regularly through the years has benefited me in every way. The cumulative effect of committing to reading and trusting the scriptures over decades creates blessings in life that one couldn’t manufacture alone. The Holy Spirit teaches, moves, convicts, and guides me through scripture. There are often new insights when reading the Bible. And my love and trust in God continue to grow.
4. As I’ve aged, I actually read my Bible more. I am an “underliner” in my Bible, and I keep underlining verses - my Bible is very marked up. It’s one way I interact with the words, the ideas, and God. I like to break verses apart and look at them on a piece of paper. It helps me to meditate on it, I think. And I have a small moleskin notebook that I regularly write down verses and thoughts in. He keeps teaching me and loving me, and showing me who he is and who I am. It never ends. I know from scripture that he is faithful, and he will bring me home in my death. There is comfort in knowing that my aging and weakening and death - it’s all in his care, and he will provide all that I need and carry me out. I am in his care.
5. I am sure that scripture is a significant spiritual weapon. It is the word of the living God. Satan hates God. So when I speak and meditate or sing scripture (and hymns) - it strengthens me with the Truth, and it defeats Satan at that moment.
6. These past few months with the world-changing faster than we ever thought possible, I have recently spent time “chewing” on Psalm 107. It lays out such a clear dichotomy of our struggles and God's merciful actions toward us. And then it repeats what our simple but profound response can be - “Give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.” It is a wonderful passage to study and break it apart.
7. I want to add here that there are many times that I am not hungry for scripture. I can be bored by it and anxious to get on to other things. There are times that I don’t have any emotion at all, just doing it and finishing - like eating a bowl of cereal. And there are times that I am not reading scripture at all. But God blesses regardless of me and continues to move me to come to him. He is faithful."
Indeed, our Heavenly Father is faithful, and the more we get to know Him through His Word, the more we can see Him fulfill His Promises. Go ahead, give Spiritual Weapon #4--SCRIPTURE MEMORY WORK-- a try. As Father Howard Lincoln of Sacred Heart Catholic Church Palm Desert CA, shared, "Memorized scripture is a constant comfort."
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.