Why Memorize Bible Verses?

Some important reasons to commit God's Word to memory

Boy turning Bible page
J. Fredric May

I can still remember the very first time I was gob-smacked by the truth of God's Word. It was New Year's Eve during my junior year in high school, and I was alone in my room. I had decided to read through some portions of the Bible, probably out of a vague sense of guilt -- or maybe because I was trying to get a head start on a New Year's resolution.

In any case, I stumbled completely by accident upon this verse:

Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

Bam! I had grown up in church, and I was a key player on the Sunday school scene. I could answer all the questions. I always knew what the teacher wanted me to say, and I was happy to deliver. But it was mostly a show. I liked being the "good kid" in church because it brought me attention, not because of any real spiritual maturity.

When I read James's words that New Year's Eve, however, things began to change. I was convicted of my hypocrisy and sinfulness. I began to desire intimacy with God and a real understanding of His Word. That's why James 1:22 is the first Bible verse I memorized on my own volition. I didn't want to lose the great truth I had encountered, so I made sure it would always be with me.

I have continued to memorize portions of the Bible since that day, and I hope to continue doing so throughout my life.

More, I think Scripture memory is a practice that can benefit all Christians.

So, here are three reasons why I believe memorizing Scripture is a vital practice for all disciples of Jesus Christ.

It's Commanded

To be fair, there are no verses in the Bible that say, "Thou shalt memorize the words of this book." Not as directly as that, anyway.

But there are several passages of Scripture that offer a clear directive for Bible readers to become Bible memorizers.

Here are a few examples:

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:8

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

The overwhelming message of the Bible is that God's Words are an invaluable asset to those who would follow Him. However, it's not enough for us to know about God's Words -- or even for us to understand them.

God's Word needs to become a part of who we are.

It's Practical

There's also a huge practical benefit of memorizing portions of the Bible. Namely, we carry those Bible verses with us wherever we go. We can't lose them. More importantly, we can't ignore them.


That's why David wrote:

10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:10-11

Even in a world of smartphones and instant access to information, there is still a huge benefit to carrying the Words of God in our minds and hearts. Why? Because even when I have unlimited access to the Bible, I don't have unlimited motivation. When I go through difficult times, or when I'm tempted to do something outside of God's plan, I don't always have the wisdom or the energy to seek counsel from Scripture.

But that's not a problem when those Scriptures are part of me. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, hiding God's Word in our hearts makes it so those Words find us and convict us when we need them most.

It's Life-Changing

The final reason why we should memorize portions of the Bible is that the Bible is unlike any other book. In fact, the Bible is much more than a book, or even a collection of books -- the Bible is a supernatural Word given to us by our Creator.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

God's Word is alive. For that reason, it's almost impossible to incorporate that Word into our minds and hearts without being changed by it. The contents of the Bible are not static information -- they're not the same kinds of words we find in a math textbook or yet another novel about teen vampires.

Instead, the Words of the Bible are powerful catalysts for transformation. That's why Paul taught that the Words of Scripture have the power to equip us for the difficult journey of following Christ in a hostile world:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

For all of these reasons and more, I urge you to "let the Word of Christ dwell among you richly" (Colossians 3:16). Make a commitment to memorize Scripture. Learn the passages that impact you most, and you'll never again need to hear anyone tell you why Scripture memory is a good idea. You'll know.