Why Memorize the Bible?

Glowing book with woman.
In every generation humans have been compelled to store away lines from poems and songs, movies and speeches. Shakespeare devotees still thrive in the 21st century.

We borrow the beauty and strength found in someone else’s words, and take ownership—mantras we wish we could have said. We walk with Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken. We taste the bitterness of another in, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Patriotism wells up as we Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. Beach Boys’ lyrics take us back to a carefree place and time.

Memorized lines connect us to the one who penned them.

When we memorize we take abstract longings and give them a stage. Words wound. And heal. For better or worse, whether the words are true or false, what we memorize becomes part of us.

I memorize the Bible likewise. The Book of Books connects me to the Author of all. His Word rescues me from my world and ushers me into His. As he unveils his thoughts and unfolds his plan, I embrace him for who he is, and slowly let go of who I want him to be.

In time, my watered soil responds to the One who loved me first. I recite aloud the Sermon on the Mount and with each line conviction builds. I choose the narrow road and reject the one that glitters. Living words linger in my mind and filter out the chatter.

When goblins swallow me up, and phantoms rob my sleep, I grab hold of Psalm 27. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?…” Light dispels the darkness and calms my fluttered heart. King David’s words become my words of worship, as I repeat them back to God.

Why do I memorize the Bible?

Because it takes me where I cannot go myself—to depths and heights of knowing and treasuring God. It connects me to the One who was anointed with the oil of joy, the One also known as the Man of Sorrows, familiar with suffering and acquainted with grief.

For truth revealed and sins concealed
To make me wise, and negate the lies
To transport my thoughts from empty lots
To point the way, and enhance my day
It’s my refuge from life’s toll, an oasis for my soul.

Why do you memorize the Bible? Or, why are you hesitating? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

18 comments to Why Memorize the Bible?

  • Karen Burroughs

    Hi Janet,

    Thank you for laboring to articulate the energizing, nourishing effect that memorizing God’s word has. I really appreciate you!

    I memorize for all those reasons and for the hard,cold fact that I am just a vessel, a conduit. If his word is not filling me, the more likely it will be that the not-so-holy me will be what leaks out. The more I have memorized, the stronger this clay vessel feels, the more places I will “take it”, the more steps of faith I will venture into, and the less concerned I will be with “me.”


  • Great post! So well said! I memorize Scripture because God’s Word is powerfully life changing. I’m not merely memorizing someone’s words. I’m memorizing the very words of God. The One who, by His Word, spoke the universe into existence. The Roman Centurion, whose servant was sick, knew Jesus didn’t have to come to his house to heal his servant. The centurion knew how powerful and life changing God’s Word is. That’s why he said to Jesus, “You just say the Word and I know my servant will be healed.” Jesus did, and the servant was healed that very moment. So because God’s Word is so amazing, I memorize to move from just being familiar with what a Bible passage, or book says, to knowing with confidence what God’s Word says. I’m not content to just remain familiar with His Word. I’ve experienced the difference of somewhat knowing what a passage says to the blessed assurance of knowing for sure what it says– and the joy of having His Words within me to guide my day, and supply all I need, for life and godliness, is a blessing like no other.

  • Barbara Hahn

    Janet, may I share this with my Bible study group? If so, how is the best way, or how do you prefer it to be shared?

  • JaneMBScott

    Like Brooke, I memorize to really know what a passage is saying and then I can use it confidently in every day life – maybe when praying or helping a friend. My 2 daughters are away at university and it’s so good to have a Scripture ready if they phone about some difficulty – God’s words are powerful; mine are not. Thanks, Janet, so much for the post

  • Patta Dietz

    I love what all of you have said so beautifully. Thanks always, Janet, for the encouragement!
    I would add that the scriptures I have memorized comfort me especially on those wide-awake nights when I can’t sleep 🙂 “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” The memorized passages also help me when I want to praise God for what He’s done for me but my words are inadequate. “O, God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;” (both from my new favorite: Ps. 63)
    Because the words are in my head, they more naturally come to my lips. I am daily blessed by memorizing scripture and hopefully, with His words in me, I will be a blessing too:)

  • Vickie

    I memorize because I love Jesus so much and I feel like when I’m working on a passage or reviewing one , we are together. He and I are together, His Word teaching new things, or convicting me of sin, or showing me His love and mercy towards me. It’s hard to describe, but there are activities in life that I struggle with knowing if they are in God’s will, but when I’m memorizing His Word, I have no doubts that I am doing something that is in His will for me. I agree with all the other comments as well, and your wonderful post Janet. I’m in Chapter 6 of the Sermon on the Mount right now, and wow, I am enjoying it. I am memorizing the words of my First Love and there are no words that I can say that would be adequate enough to describe how precious His Word is to me.

    • Vickie, I am right there with you. In fact, I think that’s the main reason why all of us memorize. When I occasionally hear a comment that memorizing is legalistic I quickly respond with something like this: “Legalism by definition is doing certain things so that God will love you more. The reason I memorize is NOT so that God will love me more, but so that I will love HIM more.” I also love to say that “to know him is to love him, and to know him greatly is to love him greatly.” The more I know him the more I love him. thanks Vickie for sharing what we all want to say.

  • Josh

    I memorize for many reasons:

    I converted as an adult and want to make up for all those years of lost time.

    Because this culture is becoming more anti-Christian and cannot reverse this course (Hebrews 6:4-8), I have considered that I may someday have my Bible confiscated or be sent to prison for my faith someday (I’m 30, so it’s a very real possibility), and the only Scripture I have will be what I memorize.

    What better way to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5)?

    I have all kinds of pagan junk from before my conversion stored in my long-term memory that keeps popping up, and I want to replace it with God’s Word; I want His Word running through my mind throughout the day, not the “wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

    How else can I take the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17)?

    Older people tell me they have a harder time memorizing, so “I must work the works of him who sent me whilst it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

    It’s already helped me a lot!

    Jesus fought off Satan with memorized Scripture (Matthew 4, Luke 4); even Jonah knew the Psalms by heart (every verse in his prayer is a quote from a psalm).

    I don’t have time to do much Bible study.

    The more I memorize, the more I want to memorize.

    Having stored verses in my mind enhances my prayers and brings my mind and heart more in line with God’s.

    I’ve already memorized a bunch of hymns (another very helpful practice) just by listening to them over and over.

    All the verses about the commandments presuppose knowing them.

    I will need lots of memorized Scripture for my next long period of suffering (which we all go through at times).

    The fact that my memory is not perfect is precisely why I need to memorize!

    • Josh, thank you for taking the time to write out all these fabulous reasons. You are so right in every point. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t started memorizing years ago. Praise God for his persistence with me.

  • Phyllis

    Precious time in His presence – I am getting the meaning of that song. “awe struck wonder “

  • Amy Calvetti

    I started memorizing because someone inspired me by their story of how it changed their life. In a blink of an eye my heart was overwhelmed by the power of God’s word. He has blessed me, protected me, and showed me why sometimes he can’t answer my prayers. Each time I choose something to memorize I feel the hunger to get it done so I can start on the next one. Why do I memorize? In the hope that I’ll hear God’s voice speaking directly into my soul and experience that “Ah Ha” moment.

  • Cathy Edmonston

    I love your blog! Every post inspires me to continue on the journey of scripture memory. Thank you for your faithfulness! I memorize scripture, because internalizing God’s word has changed my life. Yes, Jesus changed my life by saving me from my sins, but scripture memory continues the life-giving sanctification process. Oh, how I miss scripture memory when I stray from it. Nothing feeds and strengthens my soul like God’s word!

    • Thank you Cathy for your kind words. I too love what God’s Word does internally. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

  • Shelly Larson

    Yes and amen to all of the comments above. Like all of you, I memorize because now that I’ve gotten a taste of this sweet and life-changing discipline, I can’t get enough! Right now, our women’s ministry is starting a new season with the Sermon on the Mount as its theme, so I’m memorizing it to learn it, meditate on it, allow it to convict and strip away and conform me more to the image of my King.

    Janet, thank you for continually sparking conversation that stimulates our thinking and encourages us to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we can “embrace him for who he is, and slowly let go of who we want him to be.” He’s so much greater than our hearts!