We live in a time when memory isn’t needed. We have Google, Evernote, and our iPhones to do the hard thinking for us.
When I was growing up, I had dozens of phone numbers memorized – I had to since there wasn’t a convenient way to store them. Now as I sit here, I can only think of two (and one of them is mine). It’s far easier to go to my contacts and push a button than to have countless numbers sitting in my head.
We live in a generation that for simple addition or multiplication math problems, we grab our calculators. Cashiers at the store don’t know how to count back change – but most of us don’t worry about it because using a credit card is far easier than having to figure out how much money to hand over.
Things have radically changed over the past several decades, let alone centuries, and with it our knowledge of Scripture.
Scripture Memory During Bible Times
Throughout much of the Bible, people lived in an oral culture. It was rare to have the resources to write with and most people couldn’t read or write anyway, but they did know how to listen. In the New Testament, when the early church received a letter from Paul, it was read out loud. Often, even after hearing it once, the hearers could tell you much of what was said. Listening and memorizing was critical for people because they couldn’t write it down and take the words home, nor did they didn’t have iPhones to capture the audio. If you valued what you heard, you needed a way to keep it, and memorizing was the key to do it.
Scripture Memory in Recent Years
Even in non-oral cultures like ours, for the last several hundred years, people memorized for the benefit of having immediate access to the information. Math, calendar dates, phone numbers, quotes, and Scripture – all essential things to have at a moments notice.
With the dawn of the digital age, this obviously began to diminish. No longer did we need to memorize Scripture because we can look it up at the push of a button. We don’t need to know 6×7 because we have a calculator. Calendar dates are quickly found on our computers, phones, and iPads.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the digital age. I love having a computer and my iPhone. But with it has come a downfall – I don’t memorize anything.
Evernote has been called the digital brain, and it’s true. Anything important that I might need access to, I store there for quick retrieval. If I don’t know a detail or need a bit of information, I search Google. Why memorize something when I can access it at my fingertips?
More Intelligent Than We Think
While we may not use it as often as we should, our brains have incredible power to think, reason, and memorize. God made our brains capable to store information and quickly retrieve it when necessary.
You are not at a disadvantage in the memory department.
But I CAN’T memorize!
I once challenged a group of teens to memorize a lengthy Bible passage. Most balked and complained, declaring they couldn’t memorize a passage that long. Yet I found it interesting that these same individuals who could not memorize Scripture were the same teens who could quote lengthy sections from the latest movie, they could sing the lyrics to countless songs, and had all the sports stats memorized for numerous athletes.
We can (and do) memorize, but the reality is, we only memorize things we deem important – or that which is repetitive and gets stuck in our minds whether or not we want it (like the song “It’s a Small World After All” – no one goes out to memorize it yet we can all sing it).
An Overview of the How to Memorize Scripture Series
Over the next several Fridays, we are going to examine the importance of memorizing Scripture and practically how to do it – both for topics/themes as well as longer passages and entire books of the Bible.
This is certainly one area of my own life that needs growth, and I’m excited to journey with you as we hide God’s Word in our hearts.
I would encourage you to read Psalm 119 this week – I know, it’s a long one. But the Psalm is on the joy, wonder, and delight of God’s Word – meditating and having it within our lives.
Memorize: Psalm 119:11
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