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10 Passages for Pastors to Memorize Cold

Here’s one way to cool down during a sizzling hot summer: ice-cold memorization.

Grab an iced tea, find some air-conditioned space, and put these 10 passages to memory. You’ll never regret any extended time given to memorizing God’s word—especially when they are the passages that come up again and again as particularly useful in the Christian life and in ministering to others.

These are 10 that will prove especially useful for pastors and Christian leaders, but we think this is a good list for all Christians as well. See which ones you already know. Put a little polish on those, and perhaps tackle a new passage or a few you don’t yet have to memory.

Psalm 23:1-6

It’s one of the Bible’s best-known texts, and one of the most wonderful for steadying our own souls and others in the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) in life’s best times and toughest.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

However frequently our churches celebrate the Table (the more often, the merrier, it would seem), here’s the passage many pastors (should) recite in public more than any other. Speaking these “words of institution” with your eyes graciously scanning the congregation, rather than reading from a Bible or piece of paper, can make for a powerful moment in the life of the gathered church.

Matthew 28:18-20

Hopefully the Great Commission is such an important text in focusing the mission and direction of our individual lives and especially our corporate life together, that you’d have this one ready to go at the drop of a hat. The generals and commanders should have this mission plan put to memory.

Psalm 46:1-11

This psalm of confidence in God as our refuge and strength—a very present help in trouble—can be deeply comforting personally, but in particular in consoling others in the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances, whether it’s at the bedside, or in the hospital, or at the scene of the tragedy. When you’re called on unexpectedly to say a word of comfort about the nearness and unshakable strength of God, it’s hard to beat a gentle but confident reciting of Psalm 46, chased by a short prayer tailored to the trouble at hand.

Colossians 1:15-20

Any good short list of passages to memorize cold needs a good Christological anchor text, about Jesus’ objective work for us and outside of us. It’s easy to gravitate toward the more subjective texts that may feel more immediately applicable to our posture of heart and outward actions. But Christianity begins with Christ’s objective accomplishments, not the subjective application to us, essential as it is. And Colossians 1:15-20).