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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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By Danny Saavedra
This article is part of a series of articles on spiritual disciplines that help us grow spiritually, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, become more like Him, and live in such a way that pleases and draws others to Him!
Today, we’re looking at the fourth of four essential, time-tested, and foundational practices all centered around the Bible.
So, a little background info on me . . . I was raised in church since birth. I attended a Christian school from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. And I’m sure there may be a few of you out there just like me. I’m sure some of you who are reading this were raised in church or attended Christian schools, and so you may relate memorizing Scripture to Sunday school or Bible class. You may also equate Scripture memorization with getting a grade, but in this article, I hope I can show you that this discipline has a much greater impact than you realize. If that’s not you, I hope this article is able to show just how valuable, powerful, and truly life-altering Scripture memorization is.
So, What’s the Point of Memorizing Scripture?
In Psalm 119:11 (NIV), David says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The Hebrew word for “hidden” is ṣāp̄antî. It means “to store up, to store up as one does with treasure, to hoard, cache, or reserve.” When you think of this word, think of squirrels, beavers, blue jays, or ravens who store up food for the winter months. Or how most people went and bought 500 rolls of toilet paper and hand sanitizer earlier this year. The implication is of one storing up something extremely valuable for the moments when a need arises, kind of like when someone puts money into a savings account, health savings account (HSA), or retirement fund.
Friends, when we memorize Scripture, we’re not just memorizing words from a book, we’re etching the living, active, searching, and sanctifying voice of our Creator and Redeemer into our soul. We’re reserving the greatest treasure in all the world in the vault of our minds. We’re storing up what Peter called the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68 NIV) in our heart’s pantry.
Memorizing Scripture is an exercise in storing up an arsenal of weapons for the Spirit’s use in the future. It gives the Holy Spirit fuel to recall truth in moments of need and ministry. It prepares us to fight sin (as David said), to offer counseling, and to share the gospel . . . but it goes beyond that.
You see, when we memorize Scripture, we’re not just storing up holy food for tomorrow, we’re also listening and learning to identify the voice of our Good Shepherd today. Jesus said in John 10:27 (NIV), “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Do you want to learn to recognize the voice of Jesus in your life so you can follow Him closely? Embrace Scripture memorization! Very few things will be more effective in remaking and remolding your mind as memorizing Scripture. It recalibrates our thought processes—like clay it remolds our minds to mimic the structure and mindset of God. It’s how the Spirit gives us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 2:5, 4:7) here and now!
Earlier, I likened to the idea of hiding His Word in our heart to a savings account. But in reality, the amazing thing about memorizing Scripture is that it’s literally like making a big deposit into our checking and savings accounts! It doesn’t just store up treasure for the future, it makes massive riches available to us today.
So, circling back to those of you who have elementary or middle school flashbacks to memory Bible verses, think about this . . . I’m certain you still remember some of those verses you learned back then to this day. In moments where you least expect it—in a conversation with a friend who’s struggling, in moments of personal struggle or uncertainty, in instances where you’re seeking confirmation, in prayer, in those times when you have the privilege of sharing the gospel with someone—I’m sure the Holy Spirit has brought to mind a verse you learned back in fourth, sixth, or tenth grade. Why? Because it’s hidden in your heart!
I’m so grateful for all the years of memorizing verses because today I have a wealth of Scripture I can simply recite for almost any occasion. The Holy Spirit puts the right verse on my heart in those moments because the verses are stored in my mind!
So, as you can see from this entire series, all four of these spiritual practices related to the Bible work in tandem—they flow into one another and produce amazing results in tandem. So, as we seek to feed ourselves from the inexhaustible pantry of riches that is found in the Bible, I believe we need a healthy, balanced diet of reading, study, meditation, and memorization. These practices are like the major food groups when it comes to Scripture—they’re the macronutrients of our devotional time.
Now, do you have to practice them all every single day? No. You can stagger them throughout the week and look to create a balanced schedule that works for you, but if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a sample routine you can follow:
Sunday: Afternoon reading, evening study
Monday: Morning meditation, evening reading
Tuesday: Afternoon reading, evening study
Wednesday: Morning meditation, afternoon study
Thursday: Afternoon reading, evening study
Friday: Morning meditation, afternoon reading
Saturday: Morning meditation, church in the evening
You can also select a verse to memorize on Sunday and typically have it memorized by Friday just from reading it every time you pass by it and saying it out loud at least three times per week. Now, listen . . . as hectic as that may sound, it actually only amounts to about an hour per day—30 minutes in the morning/afternoon, and 30 in the evening.
This doesn’t have to be your routine. Maybe your schedule works for a five day per week format or every other day routine. I would recommend you practice each spiritual discipline at least three times per week, and start off by picking a simple verse to memorize. Or maybe, like my dad, you are retired and want to spend hours each day engaged in the spiritual disciplines of the Word. Pray about it, ask others about their routines, or contact me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org and I’ll be glad to help you create a routine that works for you.
In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (BSB) the apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” I pray that this series of articles on the spiritual disciplines surrounding the Bible has helped you prioritize your time in the Word, breathing in deeply the very breath of God. It truly is useful, profitable, and more valuable than anything else we have on this earth, and it truly does make us complete as we grow in Christ and are equipped for the purposes, plans, and good work He has for us!
In the next article of this series, we’ll begin our exploration of prayer!
Spiritual Disciplines Overview Read the Bible Study the Bible
Meditate on the Bible Reading Plan on Prayer
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.