How do I retain God’s word in my mind and memory? I feel like I have a huge tendency to forget.
Femi Osunnuyi: That’s a good question. Let me say this: I do think that memorizing Scripture is a very important and good practice to have and at the same time I don’t want people to feel like if I don’t then I’ll be condemned. So, let’s keep it in the right tension. Now, the reason for memorizing scripture is important. When I was younger and felt like I would be going into ministry, I used to want to memorize Scripture. The main reason why I wanted to memorise scripture was so that I could dazzle people because I used to see some people preaching and the way they used to just call scripture, I probably felt inspired to then oppress people with my scriptural knowledge. So, if that’s how some of us think about it, that’ll be the wrong way.
But if we want to have scriptural knowledge to help us in life – you know the Bible says, “You keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on you.” The way our minds become stayed on Him is by using the words that He himself has spoken to us – It’s in that regard it’s helpful. I would say this; I’m not that eloquent in scriptural memorization and I have to also say that sometimes there is a gift to this such as people who have photographic memories and are able to recount things. Nevertheless, we should still pursue scripture memorisation.
- Try to read your Bible every day. I think this is one of the wisest things and the best things anyone can do – try and read your Bible every day. Pastor Adam, when he was preaching, said that he has a daily reading plan for the whole year, and I use one as well – I’ll tell people to do that.
- There are tools that people use to memorize scripture. For instance, in our Gospel Communities (GC), we just studied the book of Philippians and every week in the study, there was Bible memorisation and my GC leader would take us through this process where you’ll first say the scripture, for instance, “Philippians 2:6-7” and we say it five times. After that, you add the first sentence and say it five times, then you add the next sentence and repeat the process. So, that’s just one way, I don’t know that there’s only one way of memorising Scripture but I would say first get into it and then use some of the tools available. But let it also be scriptures that resonate with you because the passion itself has a way of making it stick.
You know, there are some popular passages that we all know; you can start with those. Some passages seem to rhyme as well, so look for the right techniques whether it’s through repetition or pasting it around whether it’s going through that particular scripture morning, afternoon, and evening, saying it over and over again. Another way you can do it is by reading the scripture you want to memorise every day for one week, apart from your normal scripture reading, and I’m sure it will stick.
Answered by Femi Osunnuyi, lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development, he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts 29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.
[This transcript has been edited for easy readability]