If you already know the problem and want to skip to the answer, scroll down to the section titled “Solution.” It won’t hurt my feelings a bit. In fact, skip straight to the Fighter Verses songs.
The Bible makes it very clear in both the Old and New Testaments that we’re supposed to read it, study it, meditate on it…and memorize it. A quick search finds well over a hundred passages supporting this and showing how interconnected they are. I list a few here.
- “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.” Proverbs 22:17-18
- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
- “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148
If you have memorized particular verses of the Bible, you can bring them to mind when you are tempted to go against them. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
If you have memorized Bible passages, you can meditate on them at all times and in all places. You don’t need to have your Bible with you. You don’t even need to turn on a light. How do I let go of my anger? What does “gracious” mean in that passage? What is “grace”? God, please show me what gracious speech is in my next conversation with x.
However, most Christians know this and still don’t memorize scripture. Why? First, we don’t have the time. We’re busy. Second, it’s not particularly easy to memorize scripture on a regular basis. Third, it can be boring. And fourth, it’s not like we remember most of it a year or two down the line.
Which leads me to my favorite verse for this particular post: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…
Why not learn Bible verses put to music? Music makes everything so much easier, including memorization.
I’ll admit to being a bit biased when it comes to this memorization method. I love to sing, and I have a good voice. It’s not a problem for me to learn a song by heart in a few minutes. But from what I’ve seen it’s not hard at all for the average person to recall dozens of songs heard on the radio or Pandora. Seriously, who hasn’t gotten a song stuck in his head? We call those songs “ear worms” for a reason. And how many years ago did he learn that song? A couple? Five? A few decades?
Songs naturally stick in the head, and several Christians groups have capitalized on that, producing albums’ worth of music. One of those, and the one I’m most familiar with, is Children Desiring God, who produced Fighter Verses songs. They have a 10-year schedule for memorizing one set of verses a week, but only six of those years have songs attached, totaling six albums and over 200 songs, including the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). These songs are available in the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV). My preference is for the latter; it’s a great translation of the Bible.
How long would it take you to learn 200 songs? Yeah, you won’t need to go looking for more anytime soon. (Though if you do, there are always the CDs produced by Forever Grateful Music.)
Now that we know that our memorization needs are taken care of for years to come, let’s go through the problems mentioned above:
- I don’t have the time. The songs are available on CD and as mp3s. Listen to them while you’re driving or cleaning or working out or standing in line. Mp3 players and ear buds are wonderful pieces of technology.
- It’s not particularly easy to memorize scripture on a regular basis. How often do you inadvertently memorize songs by listening to them on a semi-regular basis? Deliberately do with Fighter Verses what you’ve accidentally done with other songs, and this problem is solved. Then all you have to decide is what “regular basis” means.
- Memorization can be boring. You’re not “memorizing” any more. You’re listening to music and letting nature take its course. Sure, you’re stacking nature’s deck by listening to it more often than you would otherwise, but you’re not memorizing.
- It’s not like we remember most of what we memorize a year or two down the line. See above for ear worms and song longevity. Also, you’ll have the mp3, so you can always listen to it again until it sticks.
This does, however, bring up a few more problems:
- I don’t like listening to all the songs. Then don’t listen to all the songs. Don’t listen to an entire album at once. (Really, don’t listen to an entire album at once. The songs are of such different styles that they often DO NOT GO TOGETHER.) Only listen to one particular song at a time and add it to your normal playlist for a while. There’s also a difference between “I don’t like” and “I hate.” Once you’ve internalized the song, you don’t have to listen to the mp3 anymore. I’m not fond of a few of the Fighter Verses songs (and don’t get my husband started on the one with the metronome), but once I memorized them, it no longer mattered if the singer was a bit off or I’m not fond of a particular music genre.
- I only like rap (see the update below*). Congratulations, Pastor Decrease Dwayne has put out a rap version of Psalm 119:11: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” You’ll have to contact him for a working mp3 because the one online doesn’t work.
- I can’t sing. Does that stop you from singing in the shower? Or singing popular tunes when no one is around? Trust me, it doesn’t stop my husband. (And I love you for it, Dear. Honest.)
If you don’t like music at all, then this method won’t help you. However, if you have memorized any songs in the past, whether on purpose or accidentally, try it. You can listen to excerpts on Amazon or stream whole songs at FighterVerses.com. Buy a song and add it to your playlist. Find out if it works for you.
*Update: Well, whadaya know. If you consider rap a sub-genre of hip-hop (or close enough for memorization purposes) and don’t care that the songs may not be ESV, check out PoetTree. No guarantees on quality.