Lost arts: memorising scripture

It's important to find a good Bible translation for reading and study, but once you've found one it is often considerably more difficult to find a format that works for you. I've mentioned my trials and tribulations in this area before, but there is another, slightly more revolutionary solution.

Memorise it. Much easier to carry.

Before balking at the idea of memorising scripture, I should add that it's probably unrealistic to attempt the whole book. I am aware that it is quite long. But surely memorising a portion, a few chapters here and there, would provide hours of self-sufficient meditation, away from the rustling inconvenience of print?

Having a ready recollection of the Bible also helps us give the sense when reading. Just listen to this guy:

If you're interested in a bit more about Ryan Ferguson, here's an old interview in which he answers some common "why did you do it" questions.

We can easily reject the idea of learning by rote on the basis that it promotes only an academic knowledge of God's Word. Surely true discipleship is embodied rather in a change of attitude?

There's always a danger that we do things for the wrong reasons, but to reject memorising Scripture on this basis is throwing the baby out with the bath water. How do you suppose David did this?

"O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." - Psalm 119v97 (KJV)

Or this?

"I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons." - Psalm 16v7 (KJV)

David had scripture in his head. He could think about it, meditate upon it, turn it over in his mind. The light of God's Word could shine brightly in his heart even when the night was dark around him.

Christ, we are told, was the Word made flesh. He had an incredible recollection of God's Word which he put to devastating practical use overcoming temptation. How can we expect to follow in his footsteps without likewise filling our minds with the ways of God?

Some time ago I set up a project page listing every chapter of the Bible. I intended to persuade people to memorise a chapter each until the collective had internalised the whole Bible in the minds of a multitude.

The project slipped by the wayside (pretty hard to administer and verify) but I still like the idea. Maybe I'll retry with a less ambitious target, like a book, and with a closer group of friends.

I got close to memorising Jude (on the basis that I would have memorised an entire book). I also plan to do Psalm 84 which is a personal favourite. Even with only a partial recollection I already find practical benefit in daily readings, connections, and general life.

Do you know chunks of scripture by heart? Find it useful? Pop over to Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc


Bible enthusiast, husband, Dad, and tech-head with too many projects and not enough time.