“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” the Psalmist writes in Psalm 119.
But in this digital age, is it still necessary to hide God’s Word in our hearts? After all, most of us have the Word, if not tied on our arms, at least in the palm of our hands. Our mobile devices give us constant access to the Word of God. Do we still need to memorise Scripture and learn Bible verses “by heart?”
Yes, we do, Christianity Today’s Books & Culture Editor John Wilson writes in his 2011 article Changing Forever How You Think. The preponderance of Scripture on our digital devices doesn’t exonerate us from Scripture memorisation. Like fasting and prayer, Scripture memorisation is a discipline God calls us to do, no matter where—or when—we live.
Why is it important to memorise Scripture? A look at 2 Corinthians 10:5 explains: “We pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” To take “every thought captive,” our minds need to be saturated in the Word of God. Having access to Scripture on a digital device is a wonderful tool, and one that God can use. But there is no substitute for the instant access our minds can provide when we’ve devoted ourselves to memorising the Word.
In Beth Moore’s Bible study on the book of James, she asks participants to memorize James—the entire book. Why? “The Book of James will live in the marrow of your bones,” Moore says in the study guide, “and probably for the rest of your life.” Memorisation gives us the opportunity not only to saturate our minds with Scripture and take every thought captive, but also to embody the living, breathing Word of God, taking it into our very bones.
Taking the Word of God into our very bones isn’t just crucial for leaders. Entire congregations can stand to benefit from Scripture memorization, especially when engaged as a corporate discipline. Charles Swindoll, in his book Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, writes:
“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorising Scripture. That’s right. No other single discipline is more useful and rewarding than this. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
Imagine your congregation, energised and spiritually renewed through the practice of Scripture memorisation, growing—together as a community—closer to Christ.
One advantage of digital technology is that Scripture memorisation can now be easier than ever. With the help of apps like Bible Minded, users can memorise the Word in a variety of ways. Start a preselected memorisation plan or customise your own, test yourself through audio review, fill-in-the-blank or flashcards and set the app to remind you to test yourself again in a day, a week or a month.
Bible memorisation is a spiritual discipline, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. And the benefits of “hiding God’s Word in your heart” are many. Ultimately, Scripture memorisation is another step on the path of Scripture engagement, a path to the very heart of God himself.
Reprinted by permission of American Bible Society, copyright 2012