Is It Really Necessary to Memorize Scripture?

Is it truly worthwhile to memorize scripture?

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The first thing I have to do is convince you that it is worth a man’s while to memorize scriptures. Memorizing is hard work but Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that those who come to God… must “diligently seek Him.”

I used to regularly fast on Sundays and after church would memorize scripture. If the pastor said a cool verse, I’d memorize it. One Sunday, I felt prompted to memorize II Timothy 2:16. “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”  

That week an employee who I supervised was behind in her work. While helping her catch up she started talking some wild stuff — as in flirting. I told her to get to work. We caught up and she started going off track (vain babblings) again. I thought of the verse I’d just memorized. There was a definite reason God had for me to memorize a verse about “vain babblings.” I needed to tell her why I couldn’t flirt with her and the use of scripture helped my case. However, my first thought was that she’ll make fun of me for telling her that I’m a Christian. But I did. She said “What?” I thought, “Oh no, here it comes!” 

Instead of rejecting me, she shared that a friend, Ginger, and her used to do drugs together, but “she got saved or something. She’s not the same anymore.” The conversation led me to askher to a Bible Study that night. Then another one and then to church on Sunday. After church, we ate lunch, then while talking about God, she got saved.

She asked if she had to get rid of the statue under her bed (she was in training to be a witch). I told her, “Yea, God is a jealous God.” He will have no other gods before him. The next week she called and said she is trying to tell some guy named Bill about God. She asked, “Could you come help me?” All this happened because I had a small verse (II Timoth 2:16) memorized and applied it.  

The second thing I have to do is convince you that it’s possible for YOU to memorize. Everyone thinks they’re hopeless when it comes to memorizing scripture. (I’ve taught people from 6-85 years old to memorize). Let’s address this issue. What’s your name? Your spouse’s name? See, you can memorize.

It’s hard work but I also believe there’s a spiritual darkness you’re fighting against. At first, you’ll feel mentally handicapped. It’s like working a muscle. Imagine you’ve never hiked. Your first backpacking trip would be tough.

You may say I own a Bible and that you can look up scriptures if needed, so why spend time memorizing? To engage in war against the enemy you have to memorize scriptures and have your weapons with you. That’s how Jesus fought the devil after His 40-day fast.   

Fifty years ago, the teacher of a seminar taught memorizing by visualizing word pictures. To remember the 12 tribes of Israel he said to picture a Levi jacket that’s multi-colored. Levi is one of the 12 tribes and the multi-colored jacket represents Joseph, another tribe. It had a zipper which reminds you of the tribe of Zebulon (first letter “z”). For me, I think it’s easier to just simply memorize than to remember 5,000,000 word pictures, but that system may work for you.

I’ve since learned from my wife who is a teacher that there are three learning styles:    

Kinesthetic: learners process information best when they are physically engaged during the learning process.

Auditory: a learning style in which people learn most effectively by listening.

Visual: someone who learns better from images, charts, and other visual aids.

Utilize whichever your learning method is. I’ll teach you how I memorize but realize, a different method may work best for you.

Here’s how I memorize. Let’s say I want to memorize Hebrews 11. I read verse one a few times. Then I’d say “But without faith it is impossible to please Him” 3-5 times until I have it. Then I’d expand and say, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him. For they that come to God.” Say it perfectly or you’ll imprint it wrong in your head. When memorizing a chapter, memorize the first verse then start on the second one. Then, say both and go to the third and work on down the chapter.

When I first started memorizing, I thought maybe I knew John 3:16 but had to check to be sure. That’s pitiful. I’d attended college 5 ½ years and yet hadn’t studied the Bible. I had never really studied the Bible. I felt prompted to memorize Matthew 5, 6 and 7. In 1 ½ hours I had 11 verses memorized. I still remember how clouded my mind was. But 11 verses-that was phenomenal for me. In 1 ½ weeks I could say it straight through without looking. For me that was unbelievable. At first, your mind is might be clouded but it’ll sharpen as you memorize.

Memorizing a chapter is easier than memorizing 18 scattered verses because most chapters are a flowing story. For example Psalm 23 reads best all the way through. 

On Sundays, I’d hit a chapter/passage and work on it that week. It’d take me 1-2 weeks to memorize a chapter. I worked hard (10-hours per day) at a very physical job so it wasn’t like I had a cush job. After I got married and had kids, I had less free time so I’d memorize one verse at a time. That’s how I memorized Hebrews. I’d write the verse on a yellow sticky note and anytime I had a free minute I’d practice.

On a fishing trip, my buddy Mike Trautner shared a great idea. For the chapter that he’s memorizing, he’ll read it every night as his nightly Bible reading. After a week or two, it’s easier to memorize. That’s sound advice.  

If God is talking to you through some verse(s), memorize them and figure how to apply them into your life.    

After working at memorizing for a while, I accumulated a few verses. So, I started reviewing on Sundays. But what if you‘ve memorized 5-6 chapters or multiple books? You’d soon be spending your whole time reviewing and never have time to move onto new material. 

You may worry that you’ll forget what you worked so hard to memorize but John 14:9 teaches us that: “The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost will call all things to your remembrance whatsoever that I have commanded you.”  

I count a verse(s) memorized if I wake up the next morning and say it correctly. I’m then ready to move on to the next verse or chapter. Hebrews was hard so I did it a verse at a time. For Proverbs, I memorized it a chapter at a time.

Bill Gothard teaches about meditating on God’s Word. Here’s what meditating means to me. Let’s say a verse stands out to you. That’s God prompting you to memorize or meditate on it and figure out how to apply it in your life. That’s the quest of a hardcore memorizer — to figure out how to put something written by shepherds 2,000-8,000 years ago into your world.  

After you memorize a verse, think on it. Reference other verses that relate. Pray and figure how to apply it in your life. When I memorize a chapter, I may only understand three verses. Don’t panic, in His timing He will reveal the meaning. Later, He will call to your remembrance a verse and you’ll get understanding of how to apply it to that particular situation.    

I don’t know if this is how it is with everyone but God talks to me through Scriptures. When I’m struggling with a decision and He gives me a definite verse — that sets it in stone for me. 

I’d encourage you to start memorizing, meditating, and applying Scriptures. It’ll change your life!

This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Tom Claycomb III
Tom Claycomb III

Tom Claycomb is an author and speaker, who loves the Lord, and whose expertise includes the great outdoors.