One Verse at a Time: My Journey Through Philippians

At True Woman '14, thousands of women sat in perfect silence as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth spent more than thirty minutes quoting from memory a beautifully arranged collection of passages from all over the Scriptures. The power of the Living Word was palpable in the room, and I knew God wanted me to memorize large portions of Scripture, too. I decided to start with what had sparked that conviction in me—the same verses Nancy quoted. That arrangement was made available on the Revive Our Hearts website, so I set to work with the tentative goal of having it memorized by Easter.

False Starts and Trying Again

By the end of January, I had already given up. It just seemed too large a task. Then, sometime that spring, I listened to a Revive Our Hearts podcast with Janet Pope. As I heard her speak about memorizing whole books of the Bible, my heart stirred. I knew God wanted me to do this . . . but I was scared, thinking I would fail once again.

Skip to Revive '15 in September, when I found one copy of Janet Pope's book His Word in My Heart on the clearance table in the bookstore. I bought it but didn't start reading it right away. During that time, we were working on plans for a new ladies' ministry that would begin at our church in the new year. When the schedule was finally completed, the topic for March was—you guessed it—Scripture memorization.

As I looked down at the word "memorization," I knew it was finally time to obey what God had been prompting me to do for a year. I pulled Janet's book off my shelf, read it, and set to work with a new goal of memorizing Philippians and quoting it at the women's event in March.

Finding the Time

My method was simple. I bought a set of index cards that had a pretty cover, a ring through one corner, and an elastic band that could mark my place. I wrote one verse or one passage on each card, filling in a few cards at a time. Then I just started repeating the first card over and over.

Before I started, it seemed impossible that I would find time to squeeze in this massive undertaking. I am a pastor's wife and also homeschool six children. I don't have time for anything else in my schedule, and memorizing a whole book of the Bible seemed like it would take an absurd amount of time.

I was encouraged, however, to find that it is actually very easy to fit Scripture memory into ordinary moments throughout my day. At home, I carried my cards around the house with me. As I sat at the school table, waiting for my kindergartner to fill out his math facts, I would flip to the current card and repeat it to myself.

When I had a few minutes while out and about, waiting for someone to finish a practice or sitting in a long line at the drive-through, I would pull up Philippians on my Bible app and repeat my verses. I recited them in the shower, on the treadmill, and as I drove down the road. This time, by God's grace, I didn't give up, and one verse at a time, I worked my way through the book.

From My Head to My Heart

I prayed that as I memorized, God would work through the verses into my heart, and He graciously answered that prayer. Even though Philippians has long been my favorite book of the Bible and I've read it countless times, I began to see things I'd never noticed before. One huge benefit of memorization is that it forces you to pay attention to every single word. You can't skim over anything! As I meditated on these "new" phrases, they brought new light to a passage I had known for years. Philippians came alive to me in a fresh way.

I saw how many times the verse I was currently working on applied specifically to the circumstances of that particular day.

  • The days I worked on the passage in chapter 2 about the humility of Christ were days I needed to learn anew how to be a humble servant in the ministry.
  • The days I worked on 4:4–7 and then 8–9 was right after our van had been wrecked. The verses about the peace of God that surpasses all understanding came true in my heart as His peace stood guard there.
  • Paul's beautiful words of gratitude for the Philippians in chapter 1 took on new meaning for me as a pastor's wife as I realized I could pray them for the ladies in my church and ministry.

I finally finished the last two verses a few days before the March event. It had taken me five months to memorize the whole book of Philippians, and with the Lord's help, I stood in front of those ladies that night and began quoting. Did I stumble a few times? Yes, but the Spirit was present.

After I finished, I began teaching on the importance of memorizing God's Word and the benefits that come from this discipline. I hope those ladies saw that memorization isn't something that's only for "honors class" Christians. I'm not that; I'm just an ordinary woman, whose heart has been stirred by the Word of God being stored within it.

Stocking Our Hearts

Ladies, we are known for being well-prepared. If some sort of catastrophe occurred and a group of us were stranded together with no outside help, we could probably survive a good long while off of the contents of our purses. We leave home stocked up and ready for anything. We need to spend just as much time preparing our hearts.

If we're stocking our hearts with God's Word, then He will use it perfectly when we need it most.

We won't always have a Bible and concordance handy in a moment when we need comfort or guidance or power to resist temptation or when another lady comes to us asking for help from Scripture. But if we're stocking our hearts with God's Word, then He will use it perfectly when we need it most.

Proverbs 22:17–19 says:

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. That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you.

I am so thankful for the testimony and example of Nancy and Janet as God used them to call me to memorize His Word, to keep it within me and have it ready on my lips. I have been blessed by the Lord working in me through memorizing Philippians and am excited to see what He will do as I move forward to other books.

Have you ever memorized a large portion of Scripture, a whole chapter, or a whole book? How did God use it in your life? What benefits have you seen in your life or ministry from Scripture memorization? If you've never memorized Scripture in large portions, what's keeping you from starting today?

I have no doubt that God will help you and bless you as you commit His Word to your heart.

About the Author

Monica Hall

Monica Hall is a pastor's wife and mom of six in West Kentucky. She spends her days homeschooling and chauffeuring her kiddos, dreaming up family road trips, and curling up with a good book. She loves talking with women, sharing how Jesus has transformed her heart, and finding encouragement and laughter for the journey.

Contact Monica at