My Breakthrough in Scripture Memory

And so Bible memory not only prepares us for the someday-maybes when we use a memorized verse in counseling or witnessing or fighting sin and unbelief, but it contributes powerfully in the present to making us the kind of person who walks in the Spirit today. It contributes right now to your being “renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23), and being “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Not only is it then accessible to us for future decision-making and temptation-battling in varying contexts, but the very act of memorizing Scripture, as we understand and engage with the meaning of the text, changes our minds in the present to make us the kind of people who “discern what is the will of God.”

Memorizing God’s words is not just a deposit into an account for tomorrow, but assets working for you right now.

Some Call It “Meditation”

Note the disclaimer above: “as we understand and engage with the meaning of the text.” That is, as we flood the process of memorization with the spiritual discipline, and lost art, some call “meditation.”

There’s nothing necessarily New Age or Transcendental about meditation. The old-school version, commended throughout the Bible, is thinking deeply about some truth from the mouth of God, and rolling it around in our minds long enough that we feel a sense of its significance in our hearts, and then even begin to envision its application in our lives.

Making meditation work in tandem with Scripture memory has tremendous bearing on how we go about the arduous process. For one, it makes us slow down. We can memorize things much faster if we don’t pause to grasp and ponder. When we take meditation seriously, we seek not only to understand what we are memorizing, but also to linger over it, and feel it, and even begin to apply it as we memorize.

When we pursue Scripture memory in tandem with meditation, we’re not just storing up for transformation later, but enjoying food for our soul and experiencing transformation today. And when the focus is more on feeding and shaping, then constant review is less important. Once-memorized, now-forgotten texts aren’t a tragedy, but an opportunity to meditate and mold your mind even more.

Reset Your Mind on the Things of the Spirit

Another important benefit today, not just in the future, is how Bible memory with meditation refocuses our souls for the business of the day. It is a way to reset our minds “on the things of the Spirit” and then “live according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:5), which “is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

The mingling of meditation with memorization helps us obey the command of Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things that are above.” It dials us in for the day with “spiritual truths to those who are spiritual,” rather than walking like “the natural person” who “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:13–14). And when we reset ourselves on the things of the Spirit by molding our minds with the words of God, the result is simply remarkable. Paul asks with Isaiah, “Who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” and answers with this stunning revelation: “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13).

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David Mathis
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.