Scripture Memory Burnout

People ask me “Do you ever get burned out from memorizing Scripture?” My absolute honest answer? “No, in 23 years of memorizing I’ve never felt burned out from memorizing.”

I can easily compare Scripture memory to another enjoyable habit of mine. I’ve never gotten burned out from drinking coffee early in the morning. I need that coffee. I love it. It satisfies me. It wakes me up and energizes me for the day. I wouldn’t even consider a morning without it. It meets a need in my life like nothing else can. I have no intentions of giving up coffee drinking, nor do I anticipate ever being burned out on it.

I have heard from others that they feel burned out from memorizing, so let me address it.

Memorizing Scripture is not one of the Ten Commandments, or even a command at all. We’re commanded to know God, and to know His Word, and memorizing is just one way to do that. You don’t have to memorize Scripture, so don’t put guilt on yourself that the Bible doesn’t put on you.

If you need a break from memorizing Scripture, then TAKE IT.

This is what I told someone who emailed me about feeling burned out. “You may need a break from memorizing Scripture, but you never need a break from God’s Word—stay in the Word. Read it, study it, meditate on it. Seeking God always leads you to His Word.”

Sometimes you need a break when memorizing a looooong book, like John, Romans, Hebrews or Revelation. I recommend taking breaks after ever few chapters so you can review before continuing. I will often take a break in the middle of a long book and do a psalm or other short passage, before getting back to my long book.

Self-imposed deadlines in memorizing also put stress on some people and may cause burnout. I love deadlines, but you already know that I’m weird. Memorize at a pace that works for you. Don’t allow comparison to rob you of the joy of memorizing. You don’t have to keep up with the mega-memorizers.

Remind yourself that the goal in memorizing is to know God and walk closely with Him.

Good questions to ask yourself: “Why am I memorizing God’s Word?” “Am I doing it for God?” The joy in memorizing Scripture is doing it with God—interacting with Him, engaging His heart, enjoying His presence throughout the day, as we trade our thoughts for His.

I would love to hear your perspective on burnout.

14 comments to Scripture Memory Burnout

  • Karen Burroughs

    I agree! I feel energized by memorizing and wouldn’t say that I’ve experienced burnout. However, I can grow weary of the practice – the “how” I am doing it. I find – even in the middle of shortish books – that my mind needs a break from the constant press. I’ve observed that this can happen when my work life requires some intensified concentration for a period of time and my brain just becomes tired. My time in the Word needs to be adjusted to focus on God’s presence and review of what I already know, making sure that my focus is God and his presence, not my discipline. That’s my 2¢!

    • that is so helpful Karen. Other factors in our lives put the squeeze on our brains. thank you for your valuable insight

    • Joy S.

      I too have burn out at times. I also do memorize at a much slower pace. Knowing God and having a relationship with Him is much more important to me than memorizing. One thing that is helpful to me, I compare having a relationship with God to eating food. We eat many times a day, spreading it all out. I try to spend time with God throughout the whole day, stopping at certain times to “eat spiritually”. Just like we need a balanced diet naturally, we also need a balanced diet spiritually. This includes being in the word in various ways – not just memorizing. It also includes prayer – not just for myself but also for others. Also thanksgiving, praise and worship, repentance – those are all other ways to eat spiritually. Speaking for myself, when I have experienced burn out, it was because my spiritual diet was out of balance. My desire is for Him to lead me to the spiritual activity that I need at that moment, and if memorization is not a part of my day, that is all right. Being in His presence keeps me refreshed.

  • Holly Steadman

    Janet, we must be soul sisters.
    Give me Bible Memory Cards (typed at the onset of a book on indexes 4×6) and 6-shots of espresso at 5am (typically, but not if God allows health interference) and I’m good to go hard into His Presence.
    God’s Word combined with Espresso and a little Blue Agave, or raw sugar and cream–Nothing in this world can surpass that!

  • Sue Bond

    Confession: I am in the midst of total burnout! I can’t explain it and I never thought it would happen. I took a massive road trip by myself in May and my plan was to review every passage, every word of scripture that I have memorized while I drove a total of 42 hours. I tried and I did manage to review a few chapters but not all of them and it wasn’t the joyful time I’ve been used to, so I didn’t continue. I got home and felt like I wasted all that solitary time. I am praying that this burnout is temporary and asking for a renewed passion for His word and a renewed joy in memorizing.
    Thanks for writing this timely post, Janet!

    • well my heart really goes out to you Sue, because I know the disappointment that must be. Take a break and God will bring you back around. He wants to teach you something through this. Make your focus to enjoy God and His Word without memorizing and let’s see what happens.

  • Holly Steadman

    I am committed to pray for Sue, for renewed passion for His Word and especially for JOY.

  • Vickie

    My Sisters-in-Christ, this posting has really caused me to reflect because I SO do not want to burn out on scripture memorization. I have thought of the times I have “burned out” on things in the past and it always happened because my motivations were not in line with God’s will. Even what we would consider a good and godly practice, taken out of balance with other godly practices, can become burdensome and zap the joy of The Lord right out of us. If we have “nothing between” ourselves and our Savior, He will lead and we will follow doing what He wills. If we have His Word memorized, we can be meditating on it as we serve Him in what He leads us to do. (John 10:27) Also want to note that I believe that in different seasons of our lives God impresses on us to focus on certain practices and we may not fully know the reasons. There was a time when a dear friend and I would meet together in the early morning and just worship with praise music and then go about our day. God blessed that with a beautiful bond that has seen us through her cancer diagnosis and treatment and various family disasters. What some may label a “burn out” could be The Lord showing them a new direction with the seed He has planted in their hearts and minds. Remember our godly practices are important but they do not change the love and care our Savior has for us. Christ already won the victory, and when we trust Him as our Savior, His victory is ours as well!

    • thank you Vickie for this timely word. The LORD is our focus, not scripture memory. He leads us differently but always to the same place —to Him.

  • Tony

    Thank you, Janet. For all your help, guidance, and prayers. It has certainly lifted a burden off my shoulders. Just to keep in the correct frame of mind and the Lord as my central focus is refreshment enough. By the way, I just completed Romans 8.

  • Chérie

    I’m wondering if burnout might mean its time to try a new and different regimen. Maybe try someone else’s way of memorizing? Just a thought. Today’s post from the only other blog I follow — reminded me that the enemy’s biggest weapon of warfare is ‘discouragement’. So how can we ENCOURAGE ourselves in our memorization. Something to think about?
    Here is that link: