Why don’t we memorize the word of God? Two weeks ago I saw a post on Instagram from Desiring God that really stuck with me. In it, John Piper said these words:

“Ten minutes a day in the Bible will not cut it in this world. This is the very word of God. Read it. Meditate on it. Memorize large portions of it. I didn’t hear anyone recite from memory a paragraph of the Bible until I was 28 years old. I only heard verses. Never for 28 years in the church. I never heard a paragraph of the Bible recited from memory. And oh, the effect it had on me! When Art Lewis recited Matthew 6:25–33, that was paradigm-changing in my life. Memorized chapters of the Bible are important. Memorize chapters…memorize whole books. Memorize the Sermon on the Mount…memorize particular psalms. I doubt that anyone will be an effective Christian in our day standing against the culture, and for the culture, without much Bible memory.” ⠀

This post has not stopped circulating in my mind. After reading it, I instantly looked at my own life and saw that I was not doing as well as I should when it comes to memorizing my Bible. Yes, I read it. I read it every day. But in today’s world, ten minutes in the morning is not going to cut it. I didn’t think about it like this, but now I’m fully convinced.

This thought dawned on me a couple of years ago; if we can memorize our favorite songs, entire albums, grocery lists, recipes, our mathematics timetables, and full-length feature films, we can memorize Scriptures. But we don’t. Why? Because we simply don’t want to. There is no other reason. Which is beneficial to your soul? – Knowing every word to Training Day, of which I’m guilty, or knowing entire chapters of Luke or the whole book of 1 John by heart?

For the longest time, I didn’t think about the importance of memorizing Scriptures, just the importance of reading them. I knew that if I was struggling I could turn to the Psalms or if I wanted to understand Jesus more I could flip to John.

For the record, I am not saying do not have fun and to not indulge in music or movies—that would be ridiculous—but we do need to apply the same energy to memorizing Scriptures as we do the latest Eminem album.

Why?

For starters, the Word of God is a living Word. It is not dead. His word is active (Hebrews 4:12) and will be so for all eternity. God speaks through His word and by not reading the Bible, we miss out on hearing from Him. The absolute best way to grow in your relationship with Jesus is to read the Bible. Attending church, small groups, seminars, and conferences are all amazing and purposeful— but the one thing they all have in common is the foundation. They are all rooted in the Holy Bible. The best way to understand God’s love and His peace is to dive headfirst into the Word. An encounter with Jesus’s perfect love can drive out every impure spirit, including fear. Isaiah 26:3 states;

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You.”

The perfect peace that only Jesus can provide is one that takes the fear out of the equation. There is no reason why we should say “face your fears” because fear is bigger than anything we can handle. Fear is a spirit straight from the Devil, it is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7) but perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18) therefore by keeping our minds stayed on Christ and by bringing everything to His throne, we can live peacefully. We can truly have peace. Fear has no place in the presence of God. Pastor Shaun Nepstad says it this way, “Fear comes from worry, worry comes from a lack of faith, a lack of faith comes from a mind not stayed on Christ.” As established above, a mind that is stayed on the Lord is a mind that is at perfect peace.

How does this connect to memorizing Scriptures? 

If we memorize and hide God’s word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and “teach them to your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19) we will be walking in obedience to God’s Holy law and purpose.

It is easier to walk in obedience when you have solid knowledge of the rules. For instance, a lawyer would not be effective in a courtroom if they did not memorize laws and a plethora of cases. How can a basketball Coach lead a team to victory with no knowledge of the rules of the game? How can we walk in love, peace, and confidence if we don’t know what the Bible says about those things?

In order to be the best Christians we can be, we need to be sharing, walking, and learning Scriptures. Reading the Bible is such a fundamental, if not the biggest, part in our walk. Yet it is often overlooked. We are told to “meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (Psalm 119:15). This is because, as the LORD declared, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9.) If we are to put our trust in God, we must also trust His word.

Another reason why we ought to memorize Scriptures is so that we can fight off impure spirits. When persecuted or attacked we can fall back into the Word of God. How did Jesus cause the Devil to flee from Him when tempted? By quoting Scriptures. Jesus was able to recall, in a time of pressure and moment of attack, the very truths that will ring true for all eternity. I truly believe that if we were well-rooted in the Word of God many of us would be able to withstand attacks. If we knew how God feels about His children, it would be easier to brush off what the world thinks. We would be free from some of the feelings and emotions that negatively affect us.

On the flip side of that, not only is the Word of God liberating, but it is full of hope and happiness! Yes, we should fear God, and only the foolish do not, but we should also marvel at His Majesty and relax in His Divine hope. Kevin DeYoung says it this way:

“According to Psalm 119, the word of God is the way of happiness (vv. 1–2), the way to avoid shame (v. 6), the way of safety (v. 9), and the way of good counsel (v. 24). The word gives us strength (v. 28) and hope (v. 43). It provides wisdom (vv. 98–100, 130) and shows us the way we should go (v. 105). God’s verbal revelation, whether in spoken form in redemptive history or in the covenantal documents of redemptive history (i.e., the Bible), is unfailingly perfect. As the people of God, we believe the word of God can be trusted in every way to speak what is true, command what is right, and provide us with what is good.”

There is absolute power in the Word of God. As believers, this power is accessible and offered to us. It fights tirelessly on our behalf. In the name of Jesus, that same power can change any situation you are currently facing. To know that, you must know Jesus, to know Jesus you must encounter Him. What better place to start than in the Bible?

I cannot write in one article, or in a lifetime or articles, all the goodness and the benefits of reading your Bible. But I will end this article with a story. My Grandma was a missionary in Papua New Guinea. She was one of the main contributors to translating the Bible from English to Tok Pisin (Neo Melanesian Pidgin.) My Mother told me just last week that my Grandma memorized the entire book of Romans by heart. Not a few verses or chapters; the entire book. Let that marinate. She felt it was her duty to memorize the Word of God so that she could best serve out her purpose, which she is still fulfilling.

Hearing my Mother tell that story this week gave me the confidence to write this sermon. We fill our minds with junk every single day. We spend hours doing activities that make us feel good but do nothing to help us in the long run. Now just imagine how much better off we would be if we memorized Scripture; an activity that will have an eternal impact.

I, like John Piper, had my life radically changed when I knew somebody who could memorize entire passages of the Bible. This took place a week ago and as I embark on this new mission, at age 25, I challenge and encourage each one of you, regardless of age, to pick up your Bible and join me in memorizing the Word of God.


Note to the reader:

Almost a year ago I wrote my first article for Rapzilla and ever since then I have been truly blessed by all the kind words I have received in response to my articles. People have reached out from all over the world. Many have told me I have helped them – to which my response is this: When I write, I’m not imagining hundreds of readers, I imagine myself. I’m writing to myself. Please do not believe that I am holier than thou. I am an ordinary person who strives forward in God’s extraordinary grace every single day. May we all continue to press on, walk in love, and live in hope. — Marcus