The Wonder of Memorizing Scripture

David Staff   -  

“I have a hard time memorizing.”  Yep.  Heard that a thousand times if once.

And, to some extent, your world agrees with you.  The internet is packed with blogs and articles which will reinforce that sad outlook.  That is, if you let them.

I have a good friend whom I asked to be in a drama several years ago.  I told him it would involve memorizing about 6 minutes of material, a monologue.  “My memory’s terrible,” he immediately replied.  “I have a tough time memorizing.”

Yet on Good Friday afternoon and evening, he flawlessly portrayed the Roman jailor in charge of the Philippian jail.  It was powerful, not just because he memorized his lines.  It was compelling and moving because he put his heart into it.


I recall encountering a set of beautifully polished rocks, and wondered where they came from and how they came to be so striking?  I then was introduced to a “rock tumbler.”

A rock tumbler is a simple machine in which you imbed a number of rocks into a chamber, which when driven by a motor causes the rocks to collide together.  Over time, they are transformed from ordinary looking pieces of stone into virtual gems.

There are four stages to the process.   STEP 1 – Coarse Grind. The first step of the four-step tumbling process is to run the rocks in the tumbler with coarse grit. …STEP 2 – Medium Grind. STEP 3 – Fine Grind / Pre-polish. STEP 4 – Polish.  The internet suggests, ” Most vibratory tumblers are run for 12 to 24 hours with a medium grit. Then the spent grit and mud are washed from the rocks. This step is repeated until the rocks are nicely smoothed. This usually takes between three and seven days depending upon the type of rock and their starting condition.”

We fail to realize that truly understanding a verse or paragraph of Scripture in our minds and hearts requires this kind of “polishing” process.  Over time, as a Scripture “tumbles around” in our mind and on our lips, it’s beautiful truth is revealed through abiding with it over time.

I would argue that no one really knows any Scripture until he/she has memorized it and tumbled it over and over inside for a number of days, perhaps weeks.  There is a wonder in this, and a promise.  Paul said to Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7)


OK…what’s your name?  Who are your parents?  Got a phone number?  Know your street address?  How about your Dad’s favorite sayings?

Truth is, you and I have a whole lot of things memorized.  So there’s the more accurate truth.   We memorize the information we regularly use.  And therein lies the challenge.    Until we commit to using Scripture in our daily life – like every day – we may never have any success at memorizing God’s Word.  What a tragedy!

Positively, when we commit to memorizing Scripture and using it in our thinking, in our conversations and interactions with others, one’s spiritual understanding and life in Jesus come alive.  In fact, my experience is that the more I memorize, the more the Holy Spirit uses me to influence and speak to others of his wonderful truths.


First, find a friend with whom you will memorize Scripture together.  Once a week, call and huddle with your friend and say the verses you’ve chosen to memorize out loud.  HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE!

Second, memorize by repeating a verse OUT LOUD…yes, speak it out loud.  Memorizing is much easier when you speak it verbally.  This is best done on a long walk (or run!).  Frankly, this is why I have loved playing golf, many times by myself.  Between shots, I have a card with verses which I speak up and down the fairways.  By the end of the round, I’ve got 5-10 verses down cold.

Third, use a system.  Perhaps the best out there is The Navigators’ Scripture Memory Course.  For just a few dollars, you get a great kit of memory cards that remind you that Christ is the center of your life, and other verses about your salvation and walking with God.  If you’re doing this with a partner, get a set each and dive in!

Finally, remember that Satan will repeat his old lie to you.  What lie?  “I can’t memorize.”  Of course you can!  Jesus lives inside you, and He knows the Word, and would love you to “store it up in your heart, so that you will not sin against” your heavenly Father (cf. Psalm 119:11).

Shed the lies.  Tie them up with your excuses.  Throw the whole mess away.

Memorize the Word.  There’s wonder to discover.