Why should I take the time and effort to memorize Scripture when I can meditate on it by simply reading the Bible? Implicit in the question is the assumption that the individual may not be currently either memorizing Scripture or meditating on God’s word through reading. The underlying current of this question is hypothetical and conditional and sounds like, “why should I go for a run when I could ride a bike”, even though the individual may not have a bike. In the case of Christian meditation and Scripture memorization, both activities are objectively good but they have their differences. In this article, I’ll explain some of the most important differences and show why it’s worth your time to store up God’s word in your heart and memorize Scripture.
DEFINING OUR TERMS
Let’s define our terms. Christian meditation means focusing your mind on God’s word and thinking about it. Memorizing Scripture means meditating on God’s word until you can remember it later. Both activities engage the same principles but memorization has the added benefit of leaving a permanent mark in your mind, such to the extent that you can recall the Bible verse or passage of Scripture later. This is an important distinction.
HOW CAN A CHRISTIAN MEDITATE ON GOD’S WORD?
Find a passage of Scripture or a couple of verses and read them to yourself. Reading out loud is recommended. As you read, think about the meaning of the text and imagine what God is saying to you. Do not stray from the text in your imagination, focus on what Scripture says. As you begin to see the truth of God’s word revealed, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and inform your understanding. Make your words into a prayer to God as you read the Bible passage. At any time, you can pray as God brings ideas or people to mind. This is a fluid process with little to any defined guidelines, apart from choosing a portion of Scripture and determining to focus your mind on that particular passage. It is important to not let your mind wander and become spiritually unfruitful. The key to focusing your mind is to continue reading the text and thinking about what it means.
The desired outcome of this discipline is fellowship with God, learning from his word and a time of prayer. Christian meditation is a wonderful way to spend a portion of your day.
HOW CAN A CHRISTIAN MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE?
Memorizing Scripture is not dissimilar to Christian meditation in terms of its component parts. When you memorize a Bible verse, you read the text several times, out loud preferably. Throughout the process, you are thinking about the meaning of the passage and about what God is saying to you. Your attention is focused on Scripture and your heart is open to the Holy Spirit.
Not unlike Christian meditation, prayers can be uttered during the formation process of a Bible verse or passage, as long as the timing is precise. A threshold of graduated intervals, for recalling the verse, must first be met before shifting your focus off the target Bible verse and onto moments of prayer to God. This threshold is very difficult to determine on your own and nearly impossible to precisely measure without the aid of a dedicated methodology to follow. SonicBiblia memorization lessons utilize this technology to capture the sequence of repetitions in time, which are necessary to ensure maximal retention while demanding minimal effort.
Unlike Christian meditation, Scripture memorization is not fluid in it’s initial approach, because memorizing verse structure, verbatim, requires consistent repetition and laser-focus. However, after the initial short-term memory has been created and you can comfortably recite the verse word-for-word, you can be fluid and spontaneous in your approach to recitation and review.
The desired outcome of Scripture memory is dedicated time in fellowship with God and perfect memory recall. Just like Christian meditation, memorizing Scripture is a wonderful way to spend part of your day.
For more insight into how you can remember God's word, read the article: "How to Memorize Scripture: a Definitive Guide".
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Let’s assume you spend 10 minutes meditating on a Bible passage and you also spend 10 minutes memorizing a verse of Scripture. Let’s also assume both passages have equal value to you and all other factors are equal. Under these conditions, the investment is 10 minutes of dedicated time and focused energy. Now, let’s analyze the probable return on this investment. The principal question we will answer is the following. What value does each activity offer over time?
ROI - CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
If meditating on a passage of Scripture accomplishes its desired outcome, then in our case the return in value is 10 minutes spent in fellowship with God reading his word, hearing his voice and praying. Beyond the dedicated 10 minute meditative time, there must also be a positive residual effect from the experience. Let’s assume that this effect lasts throughout the rest of the day and manifests in some significant but undefined way. Thus, we can conclude that the return on investing 10 minutes in Christian meditation is significant and worth your time, positively affecting the rest of your day!
ROI - SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION
If memorizing a passage of Scripture accomplishes its desired outcome, then the return in value is also 10 minutes of time spent in fellowship with God reading and reciting his word, with a period of prayer. Beyond the dedicated 10-minute experience, there must also be a positive, residual effect from the memorization process.
Let’s assume that you think of the Bible verse several times throughout that day and are reminded of God’s truth in your life. This positive, residual effect has manifested in a significant and CLEARLY DEFINED way, positively affecting the rest of your day.
Here is where the massive value lies. At night your mind organized your thoughts, experiences and memories from the previous day and in the morning, God brings that Bible verse to mind! After thinking about it for a moment, you recite it verbatim or activate the correct memory pathway by briefly looking at the text. In either case, you’ve just experience another powerful effect of memorizing Scripture. Each time you think of the verse and recall it from memory, you are training yourself (and potentially others) in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Let’s say that this clearly defined and valuable experience, of recalling the verse, penetrates your heart and mind 2 times throughout the next several days and tapers off in the coming weeks but still averages 3 remembrances per week, ongoing, for the next month. Let’s also assume this Bible verse stays consistently at 1 remembrance per week for the remaining year. These are relatively conservative numbers, but even so, that totals 68 combined instances of clearly defined, biblical value added to your life over the next year, as a result of 10 minutes of Scripture memory work! Even if you only spent 1 minute on each verse remembrance, that would be nearly 70 minutes of value on a 10 minute investment, or a 7X ROI (return on investment)!
Thus, we can conclude that the return value on 10 minutes of Scripture memorization is significant and well-worth your time, positively affecting (potentially) the rest of your life!
Christian meditation is valuable and can positively affect your day but memorizing Scripture can positively affect the next 365 days of your life and beyond! As the LORD leads, find some time to dedicate 10 minutes of your day to hear the word of the LORD and remember it later with a SonicBiblia lesson. Here are some passages you might be interested in committing to memory!
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Psalm 43:3 ESV
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV