You can memorize big chunks, even books, of the Bible. Unless you’re part of the very small percentage of us who suffer from a traumatic brain injury or stroke or disability, you really can. And you should. But why should you?
1. Because you have a bad memory.
Don’t say you can’t memorize because you have a bad memory. That’s why you need to memorize. I have a bad memory too. I think it’s worse than average — seriously. I forget names of people I know and see regularly! I have to force my faulty, inefficient brain to drive things that matter most into my long-term memory. This only happens by the process of repeating (memorizing) every day over a period of time. You’d be surprised what you can commit to memory if you have a simple system and put forth some effort. I’ve memorized five New Testament books and am working on my sixth. And that’s because I have a bad memory.
2. Because you need to feed your mind.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. But how can we do this if we can’t remember such things? General positive Bible concepts are not very helpful. We need specific “precious and very great promises” in our memory to draw on when we are alone and battling discouragement or anger or lust or fear (2 Peter 1:4).
3. Because the Bible is too accessible to you.
It’s strange how having an abundance of something can result in our neglecting it. If the Bible’s always there on our tables, tablets, phones, computers, and on the web we can dip in, read sections, search for key words when needed, but feel no urgency to really internalize it. Memorizing is one way to fight that delusion.
4. Because you have the Internet.
Unfortunately the Internet is teaching us how not to read. We are becoming information scanners, quickly browsing but not digesting very much. We are losing patience for deeper, more reflective reading. Memorizing longer passages of Scripture forces us to reflect deeply on meaning and application.
5. Because you don’t know the Bible as well as you think you do.
Have you ever had a conversation with a friend you’ve known for a while that made you realize that there were dimensions to them you never knew and suddenly you understood them better and felt closer to them? That’s what memorizing longer passages and even books of the Bible will do for you. You will find nice Bible friends become earnest confidants and counselors.
6. Because God’s word will become more precious to you.
The things we invest most in become most precious to us. If you spend minimal time in the Bible don’t expect it to be precious to you. But if you spend hundreds of cumulative hours storing large portions of God’s word in your heart so that the word of Christ dwells in you richly, it will become a precious part of your essential life (Psalm 119:11; Colossians 3:16; Deuteronomy 32:47).
7. Because you will see more of God’s glory.
We can only know a few things about a person by what they make. We can really know them well by what they say. Mountains and microbes, galaxies and goats, they each say some wonderful things about God. But to really know God, to really see and be in awe of the things that are most glorious about him, we must listen carefully to what he says about himself, because God reveals himself primarily by his word (1 Samuel 3:21). Memorizing his word helps us listen carefully and perceive more glory.
8. Because it will fine-tune your hooey gauge.
The world lies to you all the time. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), and the world lies in his power (1 John 5:19). And your sin nature lies to you. And false brothers lie to you. The better you know God’s word the more skillful you become in handling it (2 Timothy 2:15). The clearer you have his word in your mind the more accurately you will discern demonic hooey. Having a lot of God’s word in your head will fine-tune your hooey gauge.
9. Because you’re going to suffer.
Suffering is coming your way (or is here) and it’s confusing and disorienting. Having memorized big chunks of Scripture is so helpful at such times. Not only will you have specific texts come to mind, but even when, due to pain or fear, you struggle recalling them, you will know right where to go. Memorizing books imprints those books in your mind. You will know which chapters and sections will speak to your suffering.
10. Because your brothers and sisters are going to suffer.
The same is true for bringing gospel comfort and counsel to your brother or sister who is suffering. Memorizing large portions not only serves you, but also is a way of loving others by being able to provide them with faith-sustaining truth when it’s most needed.
How to Memorize Long Portions of Scripture
Review, Read, Recite, Repeat
You do it one or two verses at a time. John Piper and I, along with several others, use a very simple technique that Andrew Davis developed. Let’s use John 1:1–3 as an example.
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 He was in the beginning with God.
 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Read John 1:1 ten times (read it each time to imprint the words in your mind).
Then close your Bible and recite it ten times (I suggest reciting it aloud).
Refresh John 1:1 and then recite it ten times by memory.
Read John 1:2 ten times.
Close your Bible and recite it ten times.
Recite John 1:1 one time by memory
Recite John 1:2 ten times by memory
Read John 1:3 ten times
Close your Bible and recite it ten times.
And on and on. Review, read, recite, repeat. If you repeat a verse by memory once a day for 100 days it will be in your permanent long-term memory.
If you want to know how to sustain a habit of reviewing, Andrew Davis has a 30-page book on how to do this (only $0.99 on Kindle!).
You Can Do this!
You can do this! You really can! And you should. Memorizing big chunks of Scripture is not as hard as you think and will be one of the best investments of your life for the ten reasons listed above and more. You will not regret it.
More from Desiring God
Why Memorize Scripture? | John Piper offers six reasons to learn Bible verses by heart.
Ten Passages for Pastors to Memorize Cold | These are ten passages that will prove especially useful for pastors and Christian leaders, but we think this is a good list for all Christians as well.
Bible Memory as Ministry to Others | In this episode of Ask Pastor John, he talks about the community dimension of personal Bible memory.