Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Discipline of Memorization

I’ve always been interested in hiding the Word of God in my heart, but at the same time I’ve lacked the stamina and stick-to-it-ness that it takes to retain that Word.  In my quiet times during the spring of 2010, when I was preparing to go to Central African Republic, the Lord really laid on my heart memorizing Scripture and I was able to memorize Psalm 103 and Psalm 139 in that season.  I look back fondly on that time now as a time when I felt particularly close to the Lord. I don’t know how much the act of memorizing had to do with that closeness I felt, but I have often wanted Him to press me to take up that discipline again.  I’ve let a thousand things come before memorizing His Word in the years since that spring, and just recently He started pressing again.


The women’s Bible Study I’m involved in (did you know I was involved in a Thursday morning study?) is doing Beth Moore’s study of James this term and next.  People returning from home assignment this December carried with them in their luggage 5 or 6 or 10 copies of James: Mercy Triumphs for the women of Kijabe station to do. In fact, that’s usually the way we receive Bible Studies here at RVA.  Supporting churches will donate studies and we will buy up books from abroad and send them in the luggage of returning staff! 

I confess that this is the first Beth Moore study I’ve ever been involved in, and its my understanding that this particular study is set-up differently than some of the other ones.  In it, she greatly encourages women to take on memorizing the entire book of James.  yep - the entire book.  you read that right.  She also encourages them to write out the entire book.  again, yes.  Write it out.  all of it. 

It sounds crazy and skeptic of skeptics, I thought so too.  It was work for me to memorize the 22 verses of Psalm 103 and the 24 verses of Psalm 139.  This is 5 whole chapters.  And who wants to write that all down?  Well I may try writing it out, but I can’t memorize that much…


I have to say, I had no intention of enjoying writing out the book, but it really helps with retention when I put pen to paper and jot down James’ words.  The same strategy that works for grocery lists and to-do lists, reciting words as I scribble them on paper, burns the memory of those words in my mind. 

In the writing, the memorization began.  A gentle nudging by the Holy Spirit, no doubt.  It is possible.  I could tackle this discipline … and fall in love with the Word in the process. 

So far I am only through verse 15 of chapter one and currently working on verses 16-18.  I have a long way to go and I don’t know if I’ll get through it all or not, but I do know the Lord is calling to mind Scripture from James at all hours of the night and when I’m going about my day.  And for that I am thankful. The Holy Spirit helping me to memorize, when I get awake in the night, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

So far its been both encouraging and convicting, but isn’t that just how God’s Word is? 

I'd encourage you to listen to what Dr. Piper has to say about Scripture memorization.  

Maybe He’s prompting you as well to begin memorizing a verse or a chapter or a book. 


  1. Our family is memorizing James 1 right now too! Great passage =D.

  2. Fabulous!
    A few years ago I memorized Philippians. I learned to look at the book for what it is: not just good sayings but a story, an account, a letter. It came alive.

    Keep us updated on James!

  3. I just completed the James study by Beth Moore last month. Great stuff!!!!!!!!! I did all the steps but memorize. GOOD for you for hearing the holy spirit nudging and obeying. it was neat to write it all out. blessings to you as you obey. love you sis! keep up the good work.

  4. Courtney, we found that it helped me to memorize scripture when I would work on certain passages with the kids. (I say help ME because Dave would memorize whole books in the time it would take me to memorize 1 ch -or a part of a ch!) We would make up hand motions to different parts of the Psalm or whatever we were studying. I know my kids are somewhat older than yours, but even Sam and Anna can ALMOST quote all of Ps. 34 and John 1:1-18, which even their mama was able to get! I get confused in John 1 because we learned it in a different version than I usually read, but it has been cool. Thanks so much for sharing this post. LOVED it!!!!


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