The most significant habit I began last year, however, was memorizing Scripture. Two verses at a time, repeated back week after week to a faithful friend on the same journey. Before long, we committed Romans 1 to memory. And then Romans 8. Now we are in Romans 12.
Why memorize the Bible?
Tim Challies summarizes the reasons John Piper gives, and I agree:
- Conformity to Christ - Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.
- Daily Triumph over Sin - As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
- Daily Triumph over Satan - When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight.
- Comfort and Counsel for People You Love - When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.
- Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers - Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn.
- Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways - The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help to live a life that reflects the value of these attributes.
Two things have been most helpful in the discipline of memorizing big chunks of Scripture. One has been to use ScriptureTyper, a typing program that allows you to "type over" verses, first every word, then every other word, then alternate words and then with nothing but screen. It gives you "hints," short phrases, when you forget what's next. It keeps track of your progress and reminds you the verses that need review. And second, to do this with a friend for accountability has been priceless. I am sure that I would have given up long ago if not for the reminder, "Romans this week?" We have been amazed at how these truths have proven so very applicable in this year, how God's word never returns empty.
And so, as I traveled along the road on Monday and gazed at falling sun rays and popcorn clouds, that sky so large across the south Texas horizon, I could find those verses hidden in my heart in the last month and find assurance that nothing will separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Blessed assurance indeed.