Why I Chose to Memorize Psalms


As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

(Psalm 42: 1-2 NIV)


I am a voracious and fast reader. The problem is: Sometimes, I don’t absorb enough of what I’ve read. I don’t think about it. I don’t ask questions.  This summer, it’s helped me to read less and spend more time thinking about what I’ve read. In particular, it’s been helpful to slow down so I can think about the Psalms I’ve been memorizing. Ask questions. Tune in to the voice of the Spirit. Respond to corrections. Receive comfort.

Psalms have been my go-to source of wisdom, encouragement, and comfort for many years. 

In his book, The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says this about them: “If you bury yourself in Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life. . .  We drink in God and God’s world from them. They provide a vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by God himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and hearts”(TDC p. 65).

Beyond, reading, memorizing, and meditating on the psalms, I invite you to take another step this week. Respond to the psalm you’ve thoughtfully and prayerfully read (and possibly memorized) by writing out your personal prayer. 


Psalm 40, verses 1-8, is the one that I’ve chosen to memorize this week. Here it is as written in the English Standard Version:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, OLord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”


 Years ago, I wrote the following prayer based on the first two verses of Psalm 40. 

A Plea for Deliverance

Lord, lift me out of my pit of destruction.
Free me from the cycles of depression I so frequently experience.

Rescue me from a condemning conscience;
It fills me with doubt and despair.

Change my patterns of negative thinking;
I habitually fall into distrust, worry, and fear.

Stir me from the bog of apathy into which I frequently sink.
Shed your light on my pathway and give me firmness in my footsteps. 


The Lord heard my plea for help; so this week, my plan is to memorize Psalm 40: 3-8 and respond to him with a written prayer based on verses 3-8.

What will you challenge yourself to do?

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