What Memorizing Scripture Means to Me

12 Apr

This week I have attended three different national Bible Quiz tournaments. One high school tournament, one elementary tournament, and one middle and high school combined tournament. Bible Quiz is an amazing event, where groups from around the country come to participate against other groups in a competitive event revolving around Bible Memorization.

In total, I saw about 225 students, ranging from the age of 8 to 18 and almost all of them have memorized at least 200 verses from the book of John. Many have memorized the entire book of 879 verses. All have accomplished this feat in approximately the last year, as last year, they memorized the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon for a similar set of competitions.

I think back to when it all began for me, when I was in kindergarten. My father was on the school board, and the school board was wondering who wanted a free vacation to Greenville, South Carolina to take the high school team, who had managed to win the state competition. My dad volunteered. He immediately became very excited about the event, and less than two years later, I was participating in an elementary Bible Quiz over Colossians. Over the next 11 years, I memorized significant portions of 18 New Testament books, aided primarily through the motivation of Bible Quizzing.

Unfortunately, I must admit that since my graduation from high school and the elimination of most of my encouragement of Bible Quizzing events, I have slowed down considerably in my zeal to memorize. In the last several years, I have taken time to refresh my memory of many of the books already learned and learned significant portions of most of the New Testament books skipped in my youth.

The benefits of having that database of verses in my memory bank are almost innumerable, but to see six benefits John Piper thinks, click here. Suffice it to say that we live in a world where we tend to flatten wisdom into the mere possession of information, and while I think that is a gross undersell of what is required of us (perhaps enough to be a later blog post), it is obvious that we cannot be significant stewards of anything, including biblical knowledge, without devoting a great deal of effort into the study and proper application of it.

While we talk to God in our prayers, the primary way he communicates to us is through His word, and the reality of the matter is that our prayers to Him will naturally be on point if we have in our heads His words. How sweet the conversation is and can be, when we can have it anywhere! How wonderful the situation when we can be locked away and know that we can continue to hear new mercies every day in our mind!

When a biblical truth or understanding begins to come to you, how much quicker our mind can accept it, when we have large portions of Scripture with us. And while we live in a country with Bibles easily at our fingertips at all times, that is not a guarantee and, in many parts of this world, it is simply an impossibility. If faith comes by hearing, as we hear the word of God in our heads, it is assisting us in furthering our faith. Subvocalization is an incredible way to continue to grow our faith.

I am growing exceedingly excited about the book of John, and Pastor Curt’s journey through it in our time of worship through preaching on Sunday, and I know that as we move into chapter 15 and Jesus speaks to His disciples by saying if “my words abide in you,” we will have whatever we wish. The best way I know to have those words abide in us is to memorize them.

Conquering the lies that Satan tries to feed us to just combating him in spiritual warfare, the only thing I know with which we can fight the devil to which there is no refute is the holy Scriptures. And when someone else needs encouragement from an attack, we can most easily and readily encourage them through our own use of the Scriptures. I know in my own life, the most encouraged I have been by others is when they quote back to me the promises of God in His word.

If you are unconvinced to memorize the Bible, I just plainly disagree. I further believe that anything we believe in and commit to doing should not be half-hearted. I am blessed by working with students whose commitment to memorize Scripture is evident. In my own family, my seven year old son Jacob has already memorized almost 400 verses. If he is able to Bible Quiz next year and does essentially the minimal commitment of memorizing one verse a day, he will by the age of eight know over 600 verses. I’ve heard it said that the average Christian memorizes ten verses a year. That means my son will have a lifetime (60 years) of Christian memory work done before his first decade of life! And if he listens to his nagging dad, he certainly won’t stop there.

To me the challenge is motivation and accountability. So, I guess this is my public plea for accountability. I will do my best to provide motivation, but I would love for many of you to join me in an effort to memorize significant portions of Scripture. We could set goals and accomplish things together. I know the benefits are tremendous, and I hope that we can realize them together!


6 Responses to “What Memorizing Scripture Means to Me”

  1. Jenni April 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes!!! Give me a section to memorize with you. It would help your little sister a lot. 🙂

  2. AskThePhatMan April 14, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    Jenni, the problem is that you have already memorized everything!

  3. Jenni April 14, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    no, seriously. I will memorize with you. Tell me what you're doing and give me a goal. And on another note entirely, I clicked on your link up there for Dad, and I cannot BELIEVE how young he looks in that first picture.

  4. jeff lemaster April 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I absolutely agree. The amount of Scripture that we memorize today compared to the saints of old is pathetic, we who have far more discretionary, leisure time than they ever did. I know God will hold us accountable for our idle hours.Confession time: like you, Matt, I was too much motivated by the competition. The constant desire to "win" burned me out on competitive Bible quizzing; once I was no longer actively involved, my memorization declined dramatically. That revealed some ugly things about my heart that I did not like to admit.Thank you for your challenge, and thank God for His grace — today is a new day. "His mercies are new every morning." It's not too late to start memorizing anew.

  5. AskThePhatMan May 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Jeff LeMaster is a name that has meant so much in my life. From the skinny green-panted kid I saw Bible Quiz to the man who coached me through Algebra and Calculus to the guy who sold me his home, I have been blessed to have you in my life. As we begin our re-energized Scripture memorization together, I again feel blessed–this time to have you keeping me accountable.


  1. A Measurable Challenge | Orlando Grace Church - June 29, 2012

    […] has now been a couple of months since I wrote a blog post on memorizing Scripture and what that means to me. That may have been something you read, something you purposefully neglected to read, or something […]

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