A New Goal during Lock down - Memorising Scripture
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we do have a lot of free time in each day that we could be using to feed our souls. Often, we spend our spare minutes during the day doing other things like watching TV, playing on our phones, or surfing the internet. Maybe some of us are not seeing the spiritual growth we want because we don’t see the free minutes here and there throughout our day as a gift from God, but rather as a time for entertainment or productivity.
If you think about it, the accumulation of spare moments in our days quickly adds up. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, waiting at the school gates, waiting for the start of a meeting — usually our minds are unemployed during these moments, or occupied by social media. But for those who are looking to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16), there is a means of grace perfectly suited to these short pockets of time: Bible memorisation.
Many years ago when I was in school back home in India, I remember we used to be asked to memorise Bible verses every day as part of our Scripture classes and I was one person who absolutely loved it. Then after I left school I found that I had somehow forgotten about the importance of memorising verses and dropped that idea. I definitely missed it, but due to being busy all the time I kept putting it always in the back burner. But when the lock down started I decided to take advantage of my free time throughout the day by memorising Bible verses. I’d write a verse or a passage on an index card and pull it out throughout the day whenever I wasn’t doing anything else. In just a few months time, I had realised I had memorised over a hundred verses from God’s word. It made me realise how it would be if I inculcated this as a habit for my lifetime — whole passages and even chapters from the Bible will be locked in memory and doing their work in my heart.
I’ve found that whether one spends lots of time in Scripture memory, or just a little time, it is always an incredibly valuable thing to do. It’s easy to consider our short breaks in the day to be “our own time” to relax or surf the internet or watch TV. While these are by no means bad things, we should weigh the value of these activities against the great gift of time to learn God’s word. I can assure you, whether you can invest ten or fifteen minutes each day into Scripture memory, or longer (or shorter) than that, any effort we make is time well spent.
The obvious first answer is to read the Bible. That’s the most basic, straightforward, initial way to engage any collection of words. Books are written, and published, to be read. The biblical authors wrote down the stories, visions, prophecies, and letters so that other people in their day, and those who would come after them, could read about (or have others read aloud to them) what God had said and done in history.
Bible intake begins at the speed of reading. Like a movie producer designs his reel to be viewed at normal speed, so Bible intake begins with typical reading, perhaps at the speed you’re reading this article. But reading is just the beginning of fruitful engagement with the Bible.
For while rest and recreation have some value, memorising Scripture has value in many ways.
When we have the Scriptures hidden in our hearts, if we are regularly reviewing and learning them, we make the truth of Scripture available to our minds all throughout the day. We can be sitting anywhere, or doing anything, and suddenly turn our minds to think about Scripture that we’ve memorised — we can meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2).
By memorising many verses covering the whole Bible, we gain a much better understanding of the Bible — not only in small segments, but also as a whole. I’ve found that now slowly I can recall key things about all books of the Bible from the top of my head. The more of God’s word we take in, the more we can see its architecture and design when we go to read it.
It’s often incredibly handy to be able to have Scripture “within reach” without pulling out our phones or opening our Bibles. We could be doing many things, like encouraging someone in our church, praying alone or in a group, preparing for a sermon, sharing the gospel with an unbeliever, writing someone an email or a paper or a book. Even with the modern ease of looking up info on the internet or on our smart phones, it can never be more convenient than knowing by heart the exact verse that you want to use whenever you want to use it.
I would encourage you to put in the time necessary to memorise Scripture. None of that time spent will be spent in vain. It may sound intimidating — just like learning anything, it doesn’t happen naturally. But it does happen simply. And the time you spend will be of great benefit to you and your life.
If you’re not memorising Scripture right now, or even if you’ve never memorised a verse in your life, I’d encourage you to try with a simple goal of one memory verse every week or every two weeks. Do your best, not simply to memorise as much as you can, but to retain what you’ve already learned. In this way, Scripture memory can be a lifelong means of God’s grace that will benefit you your whole life.
Reading the Bible and memorising the Scripture is just the beginning of experiencing the weight and wonder of the very words of God. Next time you sit down with the Bible, slow down, steep your soul in God’s own voice, and don’t let go till he blesses you.