I grew up in a Christian home, attended church regularly, and went to most of the youth programs that the church offered. One such program was called AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed ((it’s based on 2 Timothy 2:15))). The main goal of this program was to have kids memorize verses of the Bible (crash course if you don’t know what that looks like: the Bible is split up into large sections called books, those books are split into chapters, and the chapters are split into verses that are usually a few sentences long). It also included games and teams and prizes, rewards for memorization that appealed to us kids. It was a good program and a fun time, even for kids who didn’t regularly attend church.
At home, my parents helped me learn verses by heart for AWANA but beyond the church program my dad actually made a series of small booklets of the verses he thought were most important for us to learn. He calls it the Survival Kit. It’s just the very basic scripture he thinks every Christian should know in order to most effectively follow Christ. I don’t have a booklet handy but I would venture to guess each one has about 60 verses, that’s like 2 chapters of the Bible depending on the book. I did the first booklet through high school. Also in high school I was on a Bible Quiz team where we would study one book or a few shorter books of the Bible and then we were pitted against other teams to show our knowledge of the book. We ended up memorizing quite a bit of the books we studied.
Let me tell you, the verses I learned have saved me more times than I can count. Being able to fall back on them at any time has not only gotten me out of temptations but it’s also been insanely helpful during discussions about scripture as well as when a fellow Christian needs encouragement. I can also really consider the words when they’re permanently in my head. I can think on them, consider their meaning, and understand more when I go over them in my mind.
It was my first year of college when I decided what I really wanted to do was memorize a full book of the Bible and I chose Romans. I got the first chapter of down and so far haven’t progressed much more than a little into chapter two but I’m working on it, as per resolutions.
So I’ve done a lot of memorization in my life. Well, a lot by most people’s standards. I haven’t done nearly as much as my dad has and I think my mom also has me beat since she continued on with the booklets and is up to at least 6 now. It’s still not something that just comes instantly to me. I still have to work for it and I still have to focus and I still have to constantly refresh what I’ve learned so I can hang onto it. My mom’s been working on the booklets for five years and she said it’s taken that long for memorizing to begin coming a little easier to her.
I’m not sure I’ve heard more excuses for anything than when a Christian doesn’t memorize scripture. Everything from “I don’t have time” to “I just can’t memorize things”. The latter is honestly the stupidest excuse I’ve heard. Unless you have an actual medical condition that prevents you from forming memories then that is a total lie. You memorize people’s names, you memorize your route to work, your favorite movie lines, TV ads, book titles, your to-do list, the menu at your favorite restaurant, etc. etc. the list could go on. Stop pretending you can’t memorize a few lines of text a couple times a week or month or year.
The Bible is the core of a Christian’s beliefs so if you’re going to base your entire life on something then you better know what it says. I find it inexcusable when a fellow Christian tells me some convoluted reason for not memorizing scripture. I’m not saying you should be trying for a whole book or that you’re not a Christian if you’re not memorizing scripture (Jesus talked to Jews who had memorized the scriptures yet didn’t believe the Gospel) but you should be trying. You can’t just ignore that in 1 Peter 3:15 we’re told to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” and how can we do that without KNOWING the Bible? The Psalmist tells us to hide God’s Word in our hearts. How can we justify NOT doing that? How can a Christian look at the Bible, the foundation they rest their life on, and think there is any excuse that could possibly justify not memorizing a single part of it?
How can we say we have love God’s Word if we’re unwilling to do something as basic as committing some of it to memory?
To be helpful, I found some articles that talk about methods of memorization if you would like some tips on how to get started: