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Memory verses for grown-ups:
Benefits of Bible memorization

By Christina Quick

For generations, memory verses have been a staple of children’s Sunday School lessons. But bring up the subject of memorizing Scripture in a roomful of adults, and it may be a conversation killer.

Many churchgoers today don’t even read the Bible, let alone commit passages to memory. The Barna Group reports that 47 percent of U.S. adults attend church each week. Meanwhile, a Boston University researcher found 60 percent of Americans can’t name five of the Ten Commandments, and half of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple, not twin cities destroyed for wickedness.

In spite of the dismal statistics, there are still those who are serious about studying Scripture — so serious, in fact, they may use time spent stuck in traffic or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room learning verses.

Gary Smart, who attends First Christian Assembly of God in Cincinnati, became interested in committing Scripture to memory three years ago while helping his daughter learn a verse for the church’s Stars Club. He was surprised how the verse stuck with him and reminded him of God’s presence throughout the day. Since that time, he has made an effort to memorize Bible passages on a regular basis.

“I wasn’t raised in a Scripture-memorizing church, so I didn’t have that benefit for many years,” Smart says. “Now, I feel like knowing God’s Word gives me a foundation to stand on. I often think of the verses I’ve learned and even use them to encourage others.”

Fred Gore, Junior Bible Quiz coordinator for the Southern Missouri District, earned his JBQ Master Seal while guiding his three sons through the program. To do so, he memorized all 107 JBQ Bible quotations in addition to the other Bible-related material. Gore says the benefits of Bible memorization don’t just apply to kids.

“The process of repeating a passage over and over causes me to meditate on it more and really want to dig in to the Scripture to understand it better, especially some of Scripture’s great passages,” Gore says. “Scripture memorization for me has been like a spark that’s grabbed my heart and spurred me on to some really in-depth study of the Word.”

Brian King, JBQ coordinator for the North Carolina District and Southeast Region, agrees that Scripture memorization shouldn’t cease at adulthood. King recently earned his Impossible Award, the program’s highest honor, by reciting all 576 JBQ questions and answers. The award is usually given to children, but King says he recognized the value of learning the material himself.

“I believe the Bible is what it purports to be, and trust that God still honors obedience and faith,” King says. “Therefore, it behooves me to spend time learning and practicing the Word in my life. If it really is God’s Word, how could I not read, study and memorize it?”

There are a few ministries that specialize in adult Bible memorization, such as The Navigators, an interdenominational organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The organization promotes a topical card system to help users memorize verses on everything from fellowship to honesty.

Lauren Libby, vice president of The Navigators, describes his 35 years of memorizing Scripture as the best investment of his life.

Libby advises people who are interested in Bible memorization to choose the method that works best for them, whether it’s taping verses to the bathroom mirror or listening to the Bible on tape. He says it’s often easier to begin the process with a partner who can provide support and encouragement.

“When people begin to see the benefits of memorizing God’s Word, that tends to whet their appetite for more,” Libby says. “For me, it increases my vocabulary that the Lord can use to communicate with me on a daily basis.”

Mark W. Smith, pastor of First Assembly of God in Bellefontaine, Ohio, says his Scripture memorization occurs naturally through regular Bible reading. He notes that while committing Scripture to memory is a commendable practice, it must be accompanied by a personal desire to live out what the Bible teaches.

“I call it hiding God’s Word in my heart or, as has become one of my deeply held beliefs, letting God’s Word become you,” Smith says.

CHRISTINA QUICK is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

9/16/07 • 4871

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