If you were raised in church, like I was, you may have committed certain verses of the Bible to memory. When I was a child, my home church had various Wednesday evening programs. I remember one of them was called “Bible Mountaineers” – the different age groups of children had labels such as “Cliff Climbers” and “Summit Scalers” – and through the course of the year, we had specific verses and passages of scripture that we were encouraged to memorize. Those assignments ranged from simple verses (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NIV) to entire chapters (I crammed all of 1 Corinthians 13 into my short-term memory one week!).
Even if you were not raised in church, or if you are not a believer, you probably know at least part of one Bible verse. All I have to say is “John 3:16” and some words might come to mind. (“For God so loved the world…”) Here’s an easy one to memorize right now: “Jesus wept,” John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible! That’s not a flippant idea, by the way; even that one verse reminds us, in its context, that Jesus feels the pain of the loss of loved ones. His friend Lazarus had died, and while the story ends with rejoicing in Lazarus’s resurrection, Jesus still wept when he was shown Lazarus’s tomb.
In any case, church-sponsored active memorization of scripture usually ends for us when we graduate high school – or even earlier. If you desire, as I do, that our children at Mt. Haley would be raised in the Christian faith and memorize important passages of scripture, then take this idea to heart: Our children will do what they see us doing.
This goes beyond memorizing scripture, of course. Our children will behave the way they observe adults behaving; they will worship how adults worship. They will resolve conflicts the way they see adults resolve conflicts. Our children are watching us, and if they do not see us taking discipleship, outreach, and community seriously, then they may not take those components of Christian life seriously when they are adults.
Why is it important for us to memorize scripture in particular? The Bible is the foundation for our journey of discipleship; it is God’s word for those who would follow him. The Bible contains everything necessary to describe, understand, and apply salvation in Christ to our lives. (By the way, this is as far as I go in approaching theological terms like “infallible” and “inerrant.” But that’s another conversation.)
Memorizing scripture keeps the word of God at the front of our thoughts. Memorizing scripture helps us recognize false teachings and ethically questionable practices. Memorizing scripture proves useful in our times of trouble, conflict, or sorrow. Memorizing scripture gives us words to say to others when they have such experiences. Memorizing scripture allows us more opportunities to meditate on the word of God on a daily basis. This is transformational!
So does your spiritual diet include this practice? Here are some passages that would be worthwhile to commit to memory. (Can you add to this list?)
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 46
- Isaiah 53
- Matthew 6:9-13
- Matthew 11:25-30
- Romans 8:28-39
- Philippians 3:7-14
- Colossians 1:15-20
- Colossians 3:12-17