"I will hide God’s Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against God.”
I recited these words (a paraphrase of Psalm 119:11) every morning at the small Christian school I attended until eighth grade. Students learned pledges to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible, then recited those pledges along with a voice that crackled over the loudspeaker. The phrase above is the last sentence of the pledge to the Bible. It emphasizes the holiness of Scripture and the importance of committing it to memory.
Hiding God’s Word in my heart was a common part of my repertoire growing up. Its importance was emphasized in school, at church, and from the mouths of my favorite talking vegetable duo. Scripture memorization was a key part of my school’s curriculum. I remember writing verses on notecards with sparkly gel pens, then frantically studying said notecards during morning bus rides so I could recite them to my teachers later that day.
But as I got older, the idea of hiding the Word in my heart seemed less important. When I needed to recall a verse or come up with passages on a certain theme, all I had to do was pull out my phone and do a quick Google search.
The truth is, Scripture memory felt unnecessary when all I had to do was reach into my pocket for my phone.
It’s no secret that we’ve become dependent on technology. We rely on our phone's GPS instead of learning road names and our Contacts app instead of committing phone numbers to memory. This dependency can lead to a false sense of self-reliance, making us believe we don’t need to bother to learn the Word as long as we have a good Wi-Fi connection.
Technology is a gift meant to be used for our good and God’s glory. For all its downsides, I’m grateful to live in the time that we do. The amount of Bible-centered podcasts, articles, and other resources available at our fingertips is astounding. But when we downplay the importance of Scripture memory, we make ourselves more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. The sword of the Spirit is our best defense against the lies that bombard us every day, and we want to wield our weapons without a moment’s hesitation. If that requires having a phone or even the Bible itself within reach, we waste precious time on the battlefield.
What happens when our phone battery dies? Or our cell service is spotty? What if the religious freedom we enjoy now—assuming you’re reading this in a country with such freedoms—doesn’t last forever? Or what if we find ourselves in a place where a Bible isn’t readily available?
How about when we’re in the middle of a crippling panic attack, an unexpected crisis, or a difficult conversation with a loved one, and we need truth to ground us right now? When we wake in the middle of the night with racing minds and throbbing hearts, can we recall truth even while we lie in the dark?
Scripture itself shows us the importance of hiding God's Word in our hearts through Scripture memory.
Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the Bible with 176 verses, is a celebration of the Word of the Lord. The psalmist prioritized the study of Scripture, naming the innumerable rewards of having truth hidden in our hearts. Here are examples from the first third of the psalm (italics mine).
“I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules” (v. 7).
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (v. 11).
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word” (vv. 15–16).
“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!” (vv. 30–31).
“When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD” (v. 52).
“Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law” (vv. 54–55).
The psalmist’s enthusiasm is contagious. He knows our path to abundant life is paved with God-written words. He did not have the digital version of Scripture at his disposal, and I don’t know how easily he could access the written Word. It’s clear that he made a point to learn, store up, and remember the life-giving law of the Lord, which led to praise, delight, and comfort in his inner being. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience these same benefits for ourselves?
It can be overwhelming to know how to begin doing Scripture memory. But there are simple ways to start!
1. Display Scripture in places you’ll see it every day
One of the easiest ways to incorporate Scripture memory into your life is to display it where you’re sure to see it. Choose a few short verses to learn by heart. Then write them down and post them by your bedside, next to the kitchen sink, at your desk, or in any other area you frequent. Make a point to read each verse and spend time meditating on it as you perform the task that brought you to that place. I currently have the ever-important reminder that “this is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24) taped to my bathroom mirror so I can savor those words while getting ready for work.
2. Meditate on a smaller portion of a passage every day
If you want to commit a longer piece of Scripture to heart, like an entire psalm or even a book of the Bible, break it into smaller chunks. Then set a goal for when you’d like to have the entire section memorized. As part of your daily time in the Word, study or reflect on the smaller portions of your chosen passage. I process and retain information best through writing, so I like to utilize the Be Still & Know section of my Give Me Jesus Journal for this purpose!
3. Incorporate music into your Scripture memory routine
We may struggle to recite Scripture, but we can recall the words to our favorite songs in a heartbeat. Most of the verses I remember from childhood are ones my teachers taught me using a catchy tune. There are some wonderfully creative people who have come up with musical versions of Bible passages, like Abigail Houston or bands such as Shane & Shane and Poor Bishop Hooper. Their songs are not always word-for-word renditions of Scripture, but often I catch the lyrics playing in my head when I need the truth that inspired them.
Sister, God wants us to treasure the words he wrote for us the way we would treasure a letter from someone we love. Our Father knows our attempts to memorize his Word won't be perfect, and he knows that even our minds may eventually fail us. He is not a strict headmaster demanding that we memorize his material to earn a passing grade. He is a loving Author who knows the words he penned are bread for our hungry souls (Matt. 4:4), and he wants us to be able to enjoy his feast whenever we want—even when our phones are nowhere to be found.
Meet the Author
Kati Lynn is a writer, doodler, and storyteller who is slowly but surely learning how to live loved by Jesus. She loves to explore the intersection of faith, mental health, and media in her writing. She also loves a good animated movie.
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