Saturday, January 21, 2017

Faith in Action: Memorizing Scripture

I’ll just come out and say it – my friend, Julia Munz is a master at Scripture memory. I met Julia several years ago and began to develop a deeper relationship when we paired as memory verse accountability partners in a Bible study. I learned a lot from her then, and as we sat together for this conversation, I learned a lot once again.

What are the benefits of memorizing Scripture? Why is it important to practice and develop this faith-building discipline?  Julia shared her heart and her answers to these questions so that I could then share them with all of you. My prayer is that you’ll feel as inspired as I do after hearing Julia’s story. (I have paraphrased her comments but trust they are true to her meaning and intent.)

Me:  When did you begin to memorize Scripture regularly and what was your initial motivation?

Julia:  I participated in Awana growing up and worked on a lot of Scripture memory then. As an adult, I remember sitting in the kitchen of our apartment. It was a time in my life when I was diligent in Bible reading, study, and prayer. I was pregnant with our first child and recall thinking that with a baby coming, life was about to get chaotic. I knew that there were many time challenges ahead and if I didn’t hide God’s Word in my heart, I could easily lose some of the intimacy I enjoyed with God.

I was inspired by a woman who had memorized a whole book of the Bible. I remember asking if she memorized even the “unimportant” verses and yes, she had. I knew that if I wanted to know more, I needed to get beyond what I’d learned in Awana. I needed to re-institute the discipline that I’d learned all those years ago and develop fresh habits.

I wasn’t sure how I would start, but I looked in my Bible and saw that many verses were emphasized in bold print. I started with one of those and then moved on to the next. I wasn’t concerned at that time whether I could see immediate application in my life. I began to commit the verses to memory.

Me: What is the biggest blessing that you feel Scripture memorization adds to your walk with Christ?

Julia:  When trials strike – like a challenge that I faced just this morning - I find that verses I memorized some time ago suddenly shine important light on my circumstance. I’ve learned to stop worrying by asking God, “What does Your Word say?” I give His Word my mental focus instead of fretting over my situation. It strengthens me.

God’s Word says that He will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him and whose thoughts are fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). When we come to times of crisis or stress, trials or overwhelming busyness, that peace is a wonderful blessing.

When my mind races in the middle of the night, I quiet it with Scriptures I have memorized. It gets me to a place of peace and I feel the Lord impress on my heart, “Rest in Me. Go to sleep and I will deal with it.”

Memorizing Scripture also ensures that we’ll have encouraging words to speak to others when they come to us in times of struggle.  It’s nice to offer comfort through God’s Word.

Me:  What is one thing that has helped you with this spiritual discipline?

Julia:  There are several things.  First, build confidence to know that you can do it. I started small and built on to what I was learning.

Second, review the verses that you’ve memorized. Otherwise, you’ll forget them quickly.

Next, have a partner. We may not memorize the same verses at the same time but when we share what we learn instead of keeping it to ourselves we discover that we truly have learned it! That helps build confidence and provides accountability.

It’s easiest to use a Bible translation that you’re comfortable with, one that uses language that you use every day. However, no matter what version you try to memorize, you can capture it with study and practice.  I’ve learned difficult KJV verses with “thee” and “thou.” Don’t let a wordy translation hold you back.

Push yourself, too, to know the address of the verses you memorize so that you can reference the context. There’s great teaching that comes before and after a memory verse and we shouldn’t lose sight of it by memorizing only what’s in the middle. Knowing the chapter and verse help us revisit the passage to review its meaning in context.

Me:  Can you describe the method of memorization that works best for you?

Note cards are a great tool. I start by writing the verse. Reading aloud and repetition are important. Talk to yourself – get your lips and tongue involved. Incorporating other senses is helpful. I use what I can see, feel, and hear, and often add movement. As I memorized Ephesians chapter 6, I put signs to it. I know a little sign language so some of the signs are true language, but many are simply symbolic to me and they help me remember.

When we learned the ABC’s as children, we sang a song and memorized the sounds. We can use music to remember Bible passages. We have memorized the grocery store and know which types of items are in which parts of the store. Our minds categorize our thoughts and file them away. We can do this with Scripture verses too. 

When we start the practice, it’s not easy but the more we work on it, the simpler it becomes. When we discover that a verse has become comfortable, we can add another.  We take what’s easy and add on, then add on again and add on again.  A good aim is to memorize one verse per week, then review the familiar verses as we learn the new.

Me:  How do you help/encourage your children to memorize Scripture?

We learn Scriptures together with songs, writing, and activity. We pare it down into bite sized pieces and review often.

To help them apply what they learn, I’ll often use God’s Word instead of my own as I offer encouragement and correction. They’re still young. They know the right answers to give. My hope is that by helping them hide God’s Word in their hearts, they’ll use it as they face more mature situations. I pray they’ll follow God’s Word and instruction instead of the world’s.

Sometimes when they resist instruction, I’ll give them time alone to think, pray, and wrestle with the Scripture. Even at their young ages, they can work out their salvation.

Me: If you were sitting with someone who said, “I can’t memorize Scripture. I don’t have what it takes and don’t want to put the work into learning,” how would you respond?

Julia:  You have said that to me, Cathy.  J

Me: Yes, I’m afraid that’s true. And you helped me move out of that mindset.

Julia: I would encourage them to begin and tell them, “Yes you can.”  Start small. Choose one verse that applies to your life. I would respond with Scripture and remind them that God is working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). He will help you memorize His Word!

Start now. Don’t procrastinate. Choose one verse that hit your heart in a sermon or on the radio. Pray the verse. Write it down and study and memorize it. Find times when your mind wanders, like when we’re working out, or grocery shopping, or doing dishes. Use that time to keep the Word before your eyes, focus on it and commit it to memory. 

When we learned to cook, we first had to learn what the symbols and measurements were. Then we could read a recipe and follow its instructions. After we became more comfortable, we learned to make the recipe by heart and use it to make our families happy.  When children learn in school, they often learn facts first. Then they learn to process the information and later to apply wisdom and application. God’s Word works that way, too. Learn the facts and you’ll be surprised when the insight and application come.

Julia Munz is a busy, homeschooling mom of 3 kids, ages 3, 10 and 12.  She serves as the local Directory of Classical Conversations, a worldwide homeschool organization that directs foundations and essentials of students aged 4-12. She’s a proud Kansas State graduate who has been married to her husband, Brandon, for 16 years. They live in Firestone, Colorado.

Your Turn:

What struggles have you faced in Scripture memory?

How have you overcome?

What's your favorite method of memorizing God's Word?

I'd love your comments, feedback, and connection! Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter or leave a comment below.  For more from Cathy McIntosh, visit

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word
Psalm 119:28


Cathy McIntosh is the author of Victorious: Finding Triumph When Hope Seems Lost. When you can’t see God’s activity in your situation, you might begin to feel hopeless. You’re tempted to doubt His care and involvement in your life because He feels so . . . absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but you.

But God is never absent. He is as involved in your life today as He was when He protected Queen Esther and the entire Jewish nation from annihilation, and He will bring victory.

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