I was at my church’s office the other day when suddenly a short bell went off. Immediately, all the staff stood up and gathered in a room together in front of a big blackboard, where Romans 6:23 was written: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Together, we stood and read it out loud, then spent a few minutes muttering it under our breaths – some pacing the room as they did so, trying to recall it. I later found out the team is learning a new verse every week as part of a joint decision to know and love more of the Bible.
For many of us, memorising Scripture will be one of those things that sounds like something we should do, but never really get around to. Apart from “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), at least. We’ve got that one down.
But though it’s got a bit of a bad name for itself, memorizing Scripture is actually a valuable tool for our walk with God. In Colossians 3:16, Paul urges Christians to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly”, while Psalm 119 tells us that we can keep ourselves pure by guarding our ways “according to your word”.
“Guard my words as your most precious possession,” says Proverbs 7:2. “Write them down and also keep them deep within your heart.”
Jesus himself, as recorded in the Gospels, regularly quoted Scripture. If his is the model we want to follow, we’d do well to do the same.
So there’s a biblical precedent for memorizing Scripture, and it can help us with our own spiritual journey. How to go about it is a whole other article, but what about which verses to actually memorize?
Of course the whole Bible is valuable, so go wild and pick as you’d like, but here are 10 verses that might be a helpful place to start. (Just make sure you’re learning the context, too – I once had someone shout Philippians 4:13 at me during a gruelling run and I wanted to smack him over the head. I’m fairly sure Paul didn’t have an actual marathon in mind while he was writing that one.)
1. The classic – John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have eternal life.”
2. The starter pack – Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth.”
3. The one for after a bad day at work – Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
4. The starter pack v2 – John 1:1-2
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
5. Happy holidays – Isaiah 9:6
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
6. The one for when you’re hungry – Galatians 5:22
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
7. The one for when the electricity goes out – Psalm 119:105
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
8. The one that’s definitely not about actual running – Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
9. The one for when bedtime seems far away – Matthew 11:28
“Come to me,all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“
10. The one for when you’re bored of learning verses – 2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
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