Here are eight ways that Hannah, and you, will benefit from memorizing God's Word:
Resisting Evil, Satan and His Lies
Jesus gave us the greatest example of how to defeat Satan and resist temptation. In Luke chapter 4:1-13, Jesus had his first show down on earth with the wicked one. Three times Satan came to tempt Jesus to sin and three times Jesus resisted Satan with the Word of God. Satan himself tried to use scripture to tempt Jesus by twisting the meaning of the words and using them out of context. Jesus emphatically put the devil in his place and resisted every temptation by knowing the Word of God, declaring it in its proper context and choosing to obey it. The more scripture we memorize and understand the better equipped we will be to resist Satan.
My niece Hannah has an impressive repertoire of Bible verses put to memory. She can quote verses from the Old and New Testaments verbatim at the drop of a hat. What makes Hannah’s knack for memorizing Scripture even more noteworthy is that she started at the age of five. Now at eight (and a half) she amazes most adults with her knowledge of the Word of God. Hannah enjoys memorizing the Bible as some kids enjoy memorizing the statistics of their favorite baseball team. She thinks it is fun – go figure. More than just fun, Hannah will benefit greatly in her adult years from the verses she is memorizing now at her young age.
To Avoid Sin
The Psalmist wrote, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against you.” (see Psalm 119:9-11) When we hide God’s word in our hearts it gives us strength to resist the temptation to sin. In fact, God’s word is like food to our spirits. When we feast on the Word of God we can find satisfaction that will never come from the fleeting pleasures of sin. Memorizing relevant scriptures to fend against a specific sin is a great means of gaining the victory. Someone struggling with bitterness, for example, can memorize scriptures that talk about the importance of forgiveness. Then the next time this person is tempted to be bitter or resentful, those scriptures will provide greater power by which to resist the temptation and encouragement to forgive.
To Worship God
It is sometimes difficult to find the right words to express our gratitude to God. In those moments, it’s helpful to have a scripture of praise memorized that we can recite back to Him. One of the greatest examples of someone who had memorized Scripture to worship God was Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary visited her relative Elizabeth who was also miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth confirmed and believed that Mary was bearing the Christ child in her womb and called Mary blessed. Then Mary broke forth in a song of praise to God, often referred to as “the Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55). Mary’s song of praise was full of scriptures from the Old Testament that Mary had memorized from Hannah's song to God. Hannah sang these words in celebration of having a child after being barren (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Mary now used these same words to praise God for the miraculous conception of the Christ child.
To Facilitate the Work of the Holy Spirit
One of the primary ways God speaks to His children is through His Word. At times He speaks through His Word as we read and study it. On other occasions He brings His Word to our mind when we are in need of comfort, guidance or wisdom. Jesus promised that when He left the earth He would not leave us as orphans, but that we would have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us. One way the Holy Spirit does this job is to bring to our remembrance pertinent Bible verses. “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26) My experience has been that the more Scripture I have memorized the easier it is to hear God speak to me through His Word and by His Holy Spirit.
To Discern the Origin of our Thoughts
Possibly the greatest need in the Body of Christ in the latter days is for discernment. As a church body we need discernment to be able to decipher that which is true from that which is false. As individuals, we also need to be able to discern and understand the difference between lies and truth. That work begins first and foremost in our own hearts and minds. Throughout the day we are often bombarded with good, bad, evil and neutral thoughts. The source of these thoughts can only come from one of four sources – ourselves, our enemy the devil, the world or the Lord. By memorizing God’s word we have a benchmark by which to test every idea and "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, italics added)
To enhance fellowship with other believers
God has built his body, the church in such a way that each part is dependent upon the other. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12) When we gather together as believers it is for the purpose of mutual edification of the body. This type of fellowship is almost impossible unless it is rooted and grounded on Bible truth. At times I have personally experienced where I am down or discouraged and another brother or sister in Christ reminds me of a promise from God’s Word and suddenly I am brought back to life. For this reason, it’s important to memorize the Word of God so that we are always equipped and ready to share and encourage other believers as we meet together. "As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)
To be equipped to witness to unbelievers
One of the most effective ways to share the Christian faith is to enlighten others with the Word of God. “The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130) Witnessing can encompass sharing the scriptures that deal with salvation, but also those scriptures that speak to any topic of life that will benefit the hearer. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) When we have God’s Word memorized we can easily advice others by saying, “Do you want to know what God’s Word says about this matter?” We can then trust that the Word of God will work effectively in that person’s life knowing God promises, “It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
To pray more effectively and in the will of God
As we pray to God, whether it be for ourselves or for others, it is always beneficial to know the Word of God. By having God’s word in our hearts we can be equipped to pray more effectively, fervently and in accordance with the will of God. Praying God’s Word provides tremendous power to our prayers because we know God wants to fulfill His Word on earth. We can also pray with greater confidence. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14,15)
Ready, Set, Memorize
I’m sure there are more reasons to put God’s Word to memory, but I hope that these eight will provide the motivation for you to begin or encouragement to continue to memorize His Word. If you are a beginner, start off slowly as not to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Find creative ways to memorize scripture like singing the scriptures aloud or writing them out on 3x5 cards and reviewing them throughout the day. Once you begin to put God’s Word to memory you will not want to quit. Who knows, you may even end up like Hannah and find the activity to be fun.