There are tips, advice, steps, etc. for Bible memorization. These are incredibly necessary for practicing Bible memorization. Yet there is one crucial aspect of Bible memorization that must come first if our efforts are to produce any lasting fruit. And this part of Bible memorization often goes under the radar, namely, delight.
Before practical steps can be taken (e.g., daily reading and re-reading) there ought to be a heart’s desire, if we want the memorized Word to take root in our hearts. Indeed, we can memorize Scripture without any heartfelt desire. And in the short-term it would seem successful. But this would be of no lasting value to us or to others for the sake of God’s kingdom. We would memorize and then forget in due time because the text had no rich soil to be planted in within our hearts. Let’s consider the Psalmist’s approach to remembering God’s Word:
“I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:16)
He delights. He does not forget. Often times in Bible memorization we forget because we do not delight. There are, of course, individuals who have legitimate, mental capacities that can hinder or accelerate Bible memorization and general remembrance. But for most (myself included), we simply don’t delight. The excuses we bring to the table of Bible memorization stem from a heart of non-delight. For example, we say, “I don’t have time,” “I don’t have a good memory,” “I’m not interested,” or any other sort of excuse.
But the guitarist who delights in music does not have trouble memorizing every note to an elaborate solo. An athlete who delights in sports does not find difficulty memorizing a playbook. A businessman who delights in wealth can easily memorize how the Dow performed in a week. A chef who delights in cuisine experiences no problems when memorizing how to create a specific dish. And the list could go on… so let’s add one more example. The Christian who delights in God will not find difficulty in remembering His joy-filled, glorious Word.
Why? Because we are able to remember what we delight in. We have the ability to remember any number of details or facts throughout any day, yet we choose to remember certain ones and ignore others. Why? Because we remember what we prefer to remember. Our hearts love to prefer; it’s what they do.
Perhaps our struggle to memorize Scripture isn’t so much about our competency as it is our heart’s desire. If we delighted in Scripture, if we meditated on a verse or passage all day, all week, or all year, then by the grace of God we would remember! We should desire more of God’s Word to fill our hearts so that we would be able to delight and meditate “all the day” (Psalm 119:97, emphasis added).
Thus, a heart full of delight in Christ is essential for Bible memorization, or else our practical steps for remembering will not be properly fueled by the joy of God’s Word. But how do we delight? John Piper provides two helpful aids for growing in delight of God’s Word:
“1) pray for new tastebuds on the tongue of your heart;
2) meditate on the staggering promises of God to his people.”
God’s Word is worth delighting in, but we need supernatural, spiritual help in seeing the true beauty of Scripture. Our natural self, our flesh, will not delight. Thus, pray earnestly for a delight, a joy, a thrill of hope in God’s Word. Seek and meditate daily on Scripture until you find yourself longing for more. When we faithfully, joyfully, and diligently seek God we will find Him (Proverbs 8:17). Before you begin any practical steps in Bible memorization, first ask yourself, “Do I delight in God’s Word?”