The Many Uses Of Memorising Scripture Verses

Author: Fr Pat Collins CM

Picture: Pixabay

The Many Uses Of Memorising Scripture Verses

Fr. Pat Collins explains how we can be greatly blessed by memorising verses from the Bible.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Whilst St Paul said these words, I have found this is more likely to be the case- ie I am equipped for good works- if I do two interrelated things.

Firstly, when I come across a striking verse, such as a divine promise, a wise saying, or a statement of God’s will, I underline it with a yellow fluorescent marker or a red biro.

Secondly, I memorise the verse in question, together with its associated chapter and verse numbers. 

This has two benefits. When I open my Bible, I can revisit the underlined verses as I would visit familiar friends.

However, even when I do not have a Bible to hand, I can recall favourite verses from memory. 

So if someone asks me what the Bible has to say about a particular subject, such as money, humility, or forgiveness, I can recall hundreds of relevant quotations.

Revealing The Divine Presence

It often strikes me as unfortunate that so many Catholics have an impressive knowledge of secular subjects such as sport, movies, and music, while having  such a poor ability to remember scripture verses.

If, like many others, I have memorised many scripture verses, the Lord can use them as a means of revealing the divine presence and purposes to me. Let me share a personal example.

A number of years ago I did my annual retreat in London.  During one of the talks, the door opened and a member let me know that there was a telephone call for me. I knew he would not have interrupted unless it was urgent.

As I walked to the phone, I was filled with apprehension.  Would it be bad news from home? As soon as I lifted the receiver and heard my brother’s voice, I braced myself. “Pat, I have bad news,” he said. “Mammy died suddenly, a few minutes ago.”

Turmoil And A Moment Of Dread

As soon as I put down the phone, I went to the chapel and knelt in front of the tabernacle. I was in turmoil. A moment I had dreaded, for many years, had finally arrived.

I tried to pray. Then suddenly, some verses, which I knew off by heart, drifted spontaneously into my mind. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back. Blessed be the name of the Lord! If we take happiness from God’s hand, must we not take sorrow too?” (Job 1:21; 2:10b).

As I recalled and savoured those inspired words, I got an overwhelming sense that my mother’s death, like her whole life, was embraced by God’s benevolent providence.

I not only thanked God for the gift of her presence, I also decided from the depths of my being to accept God’s will, by offering her back to the Lord. 

A Great Peace

As soon as I did so, a great peace came upon me.

In spite of my emotional pain, I felt connected to God. I was an orphan now, but I knew that God was my loving parent in heaven.

What a paradox. At a moment of extreme loss, I felt intimately united to the One whose presence and will had been mediated by means of a remembered scripture text.

Time and time again, over the years, I have found that the Holy Spirit has taught, rebuked, corrected or trained me in an inspiring way, e.g. while praying, preaching, or ministering to others, as I called to mind a relevant  verse from the treasure chest of memory.

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