When I was a kid, the church secretary would give you a piece of candy if you quoted a verse for her. To be honest, most of the time I would cheat and just use the same verse each time. There was always the one kid who would quote John 11:35, “Jesus wept” (also known as the shortest verse in the Bible). We would all roll our eyes, but were secretly jealous that he beat us to it.
I never really knew the context of that verse, but I assumed it had something to do with Jesus dying on the cross. If I could think of something in Jesus’s life that would have made Him cry, that would have been it. But that is not the case at all. Jesus cried because His friend died. He knew that in a few moments that He was going to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead, but for the time being, Jesus mourned his friend’s death. Jesus came into his friend’s pain, and was there with them in that. That is so much more powerful to me, than Jesus weeping over His own pain.
When we understand the context of the verses we are quoting from memory, they have more meaning. They are deeper and more potent. They also become easier to remember. I am not saying go memorize the whole book of John right now (if you do, I promise to mail you some candy). But what I am saying is, as you memorize a chunk of scripture instead of just the one verse, you have a lot more to think about, and mull over, and you will start to notice more about the text than you would if you were only memorizing the one verse.
Another reason I think it is helpful to memorize a whole book of the Bible is you will start to see themes pop up that you may not have noticed just by reading. I am currently memorizing the book of James, and I never noticed how every topic flows so smoothly into the next. If you read the book, at first read through it sounds like he is jumping from topic to topic. As I have meditated on it, and mulled over it, I have started noticing how each topic flows and how each section of the book is all about having real genuine faith. I may not have noticed that if I only read through it.
I am not saying you have to memorize a whole book of the Bible to be a Christ-follower. But I am saying you should give it a try.
What book would you start with to memorize?