Why Is Scripture Memorization Important?

“I have stored up your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

This little verse packs a powerful punch, and over the last few months it has taken on an entire new meaning for me. Each morning as part of my morning time of devotion I have been committing about ten minutes to memorizing a portion of Psalm 119.  I have had seasons of my life where I have had stronger or lesser commitments to memorizing portions of scripture.  But the consistency and daily routine of working through a larger chunk of scripture like Psalm 119 has already begun to bear much fruit.

There have been a number of moments where I have found myself genuinely caught off guard by the power of an individual verse. For example, about a month ago I was repeating and reciting verse 14 which reads,

“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalm 119:14

For about ten minutes I was walking and repeating this verse within its section, thinking more about the process of actually memorizing it than the  content itself. But then I was suddenly deeply convicted by the actual words. The Holy Spirit was “opening my eyes” as it says later in the Psalm. Is this verse true of me? Do I “delight” in God’s testimonies as much as I delight in “all riches“? Moreover, what is the evidence in my life that this is true of me? It was, and still is, a convicting thought.

A very similar moment occurred only a week later as I was reciting verse 18,

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

That little phrase “behold wondrous things,” struck me as extravagant. The Psalmist is asking God to remove the blinders from his eyes that hinder him from reading the Bible like a Treasure Hunter. He’s asking God to “lift the veil” so to speak, in order to see each and every Word of scripture in all it’s profound beauty, not just as Words on a page with deep meaning, but as words on a page with intense beauty and wonder. I want that!

The End Goal is Not the Goal

Memorizing scripture is time intensive, and often feels like a process of trying to work towards an end goal. But that end goal (of completing the memorization and being able to repeat it without help) is only a secondary goal. It is the process that is just as important and frankly the process that is the most transformative. The daily grind of repeating God’s Word has a way of revealing unseen beauty and actually changing a person. It is as if with each moment we spend reciting a passage we are taking His Word and pushing it just a bit further into the inner recesses of our heart, allowing the words to inch closer and closer towards our heart’s epicenter.  This is where we ultimately want God’s Word to dwell, it’s there where His Word literally begins to drive our thoughts and actions.

Oh God, make my heart like the Psalmist’s who said:

My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” Psalm 119:20

Written by Raef Chenery

I'm a pastor in Chicago at Park Community Church - South Loop. I'm a husband to my beautiful wife Sara and a dad to three sweet girls, Ruth, Joy, and Mira. I'm blessed to be surrounded by a number of men and women who love to think about the ways that our faith interacts with our culture. This blog is as much for me to get my thoughts in order, as it is for those who might benefit from it and engage in the conversations as well. I would love to get your feedback through the comments on each post.

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