4 Excuses for Not Memorizing Scripture

Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. (Psalm 119:161)

If the thought of memorizing Scripture makes you cringe, then you know how I felt six years ago when I was challenged to start memorizing myself. It took me about four seconds to come up with a list of reasons why Scripture memory just wasn’t for me. I was quite proud of my list of excuses:

  • “I have a bad memory.”
  • “I don’t have enough time.”
  • “Scripture memory might be commendable, but it’s probably not a requirement.”
  • “Plenty of good people I know have never memorized a Bible verse.”

Despite my excuses, I decided to give Scripture memory a try for the next 40 days and see if it was worthwhile. More than 2,000 days later I’m still memorizing, and here’s what I’ve learned in the meantime:

1. Scripture memory is transformative. Nearly every expression of your individuality comes from the archives of your memory. Your favorite foods and personal preferences, the ability to recognize the face of a loved one, and even reading this paragraph in English depends entirely on your capacity to remember.

Considering the influence memory has on our daily lives, the value of filling it with Scripture can hardly be understated. The purity and completeness of Scripture is such that it converts the soul and enlightens the eyes (Ps. 19:7, 8) — especially when it’s working from the inside out.

2. Scripture memory makes obedience possible. Knowledge of God’s Word always precedes obedience to God’s Word. Put another way, conformity to the image of Christ doesn’t happen by accident; it is always the result of the Holy Spirit's work in the life of a believer (5:22-23), as well as our own diligence to study the Scripture and live as doers of the Word (Jam. 1:22).

In John 15:7, abiding in Christ is inseparably linked with His words abiding in us. Again, the Holy Spirit’s vital role in this process is described by the Lord in John 14:26: “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will…bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Abiding continually in Christ is absolutely necessary (vs. 6), but it’s only possible when His words are abiding in us.

3. Scripture memory is hard. We’ve all heard about those people who can solve a Rubix Cube blindfolded or perform long division mentally, but don’t expect to uncover some trick that makes Scripture memory a cinch. Over the years I’ve spoken with hundreds of people about Scripture memory in both formal and informal settings, meeting people with hundreds and even thousands of verses memorized word-for-word. Surprisingly, even these “elite” memorizers don’t claim it’s easy; they simply claim it’s worth the effort.

If you’re intimidated by the perceived complexity of an effective memory routine, remember that it’s okay to start slow. Just pick a chapter or a handful of verses to memorize, set a reasonable deadline to keep yourself on track, and start memorizing! Scripture memory is very much an investment of time, and like all good investments, the return is far more valuable than the deposit.



  • Cherrilynn Bisbano
    Great article, I found this as I write a chapter in my book titled, Memorize the Word. You confirmed many of my points and enlightened me to more. Thank you.
    • Cherrilynn, Thanks for stopping by. That's a book I would be interested in reading once it's published. Please let us know when it's ready!
  • This is so encouraging- thanks! Your first point brings up an incentive towards Scripture memory that I hadn't thought of before: we don't even spend a second debating whether we should memorize all the other things that we count as important in our lives. It's rather convicting how often I excuse away Bible memory when it should be something I'm intentionally eager to do without a second thought.
  • Thanks!

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