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Use Scripture Memory to Help Anxiety

Use Scripture Memory to Help Anxiety

March 16, 2020

I use Scripture memory to help anxiety in my life. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. It’s also not something that I have always done. In fact, for more than a couple years I have really been convicted by Matthew 6:25-34. The gist of this passage, in case you didn’t click over to biblegateway to give it a read, is this: do not be anxious.

Easier said than done! Anxiety comes in all shapes and forms. Mine? Sometimes it rears it’s ugly head in social situations, sometimes it’s navigating something new that sets it in motion. Sometimes my anxiety feels like I have adrenaline rushing for several hours without relief.

However, the most common thing is the nighttime. I can fall asleep easily most nights, but when midnight- two am rolls around I wake up. Some nights it’s no big deal, others it’s huge. You see, once I’m awake, my thoughts rush in like a waterfall. What if a spider crawls in my mouth while I’m asleep? Or, less funny, what if something happens to my kids or my husband? How would I support us if something did happen to him? Believe me, I could list so many more scenarios, I’ve had practice.

Here’s the thing, I can’t wake up tomorrow morning and not have anxiety. I’m still going to practice what I say in my head to the bank teller before I arrive in the drive through line. What I can do, is train myself not to be anxious.

All Your Might

I love Deuteronomy 6:4-9. From this passage I draw a lot of my inspiration for using Scripture memory for anxiety. Let’s start with verse 5; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

It takes all my might to reign in my thoughts when I am anxious. When I take these two commands together- do not be anxious (Matthew 6), and verse 5 of Deuteronomy 6, I am convicted that in order to obey and love God I need to reign in my anxious thoughts. My obedience in love is hard, but here’s where Scripture memory helps my anxiety… If I am reciting a verse from the Bible, I am not worrying. I’m not dreading the next social interaction. I fall back to sleep with The Word of God on my lips.

These Words Shall be on Your Heart

It doesn’t just happen. I didn’t wake up one day with a bunch of memory verses memorized. I had to work on it. Verse 6 goes on to say “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”

It’s intuitive that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. I can’t say verses that I don’t know! It’s so tempting to say that I’m too busy. I have three kids, ministry at church and online, a house to manage, and more!

One day I was watching a video clip online and the theme song to a ’90s tv show started to play. I cheerfully indulged in the trip down memory lane and sang along with the lyrics from my childhood almost perfectly. I didn’t even know those were in my heart! How much more important is it to know God’s Word?

I have to admit that when something is important, I learn it quickly. New address? I know it before I move in. My kids’ birthdays? Of course I know them. Our family’s favorite recipe? I’ve made it so many times that I don’t have to get the recipe card out anymore.

The problem is not that I can’t memorize. It’s that it takes loving God with all of my might to make it important enough. The words of the Bible have to be carved deeply into my heart if I am to be able to recall them in the middle of a panic attack. Scripture memory only helps my anxiety if I am willing to get serious.

Add Scripture to Every. Part. of. Your. Life.

No exceptions. If anxiety is ruling your life, you need to get down to business. The enemy would like nothing better than to see me paralyzed by fear. I can’t afford to let any area be left to chance. Want to be sure you’ve covered all your bases? Look at the next few verses.

Teach them to your children.

I was in a store with all my kids. We were looking at wall hangings, pondering if any were right in both looks and price for their rooms. Next thing I know, we are standing in front of a cute, flowery, pink swirly sign with the words “Follow Your Heart” written across it.

I paused at the sign and said “girls, this one is cute, but can anyone tell me why we aren’t getting it?” Not a few seconds passed by, when someone piped up “Because the heart is deceitful above all things!” We had learned Jeremiah 17:9 together.

My heart is so deceitful. It tries to convince me that my emotions are more important than God’s truth. In a household with four women, that’s a necessary lesson!

Let Scripture be a part of your conversations with your kids. Not only does it give you the security of speaking the Word aloud, but it shows them that the Bible is the authority on truth.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV

Use Scripture Memory to Help Anxiety

When you rise.

We’ve covered “when you lie down,” how about when you rise? A few years ago, I struggled with daily migraines. It was a hard time. I was anxious about how my kids were doing when I was always sick. I felt like a burden to my husband, who would often come home from work, only to find me too sick to cook dinner.

Somehow I found Psalm 121, I’ve written more about what that Psalm means here. Each morning, often with a migraine already raging. I would stand at my window facing the mountains, and recite the first verses. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” Psalm 121:1-2 ESV.

It became a daily habit, a reminder and claim that God is greater than what I face and feel.

Using Scripture Memory to Help Anxiety

If this is something you need, here are some tips for getting started.

  • Choose verses that help in the area that you are struggling with. Psalms are great!
  • Write it out on a note card and carry it with you at all times to review.
  • Get the family involved, learn a verse with your kids.
  • Check out this article about learning longer passages as a family.
  • Try Youtube; Search the version you prefer to memorize plus song and see passages that musicians have set to music! Example: ESV Bible verse song

When I say verses during a time that I am struggling, I begin at the beginning- literally. I start with Genesis, say the verse or verses I know in each book as I go through the Bible, so that I am saying every verse I know.

Need Some Accountability?

If you’d like some accountability to use Scripture memory to help with anxiety, my Facebook group is in the middle of a month of Scripture memory. Join us here!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Katie @ Agape Investing

    My husband and I try to memorize scripture to help us through stressful times. It has always helped. And it works out well especially when one of us is stressed, the other has the Bible verse memorized to help.

    March 16, 2020 at 11:34 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      That’s a good idea to do it together, my family is working on a passage right now all together.

      March 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm Reply
    • April

      Yes!! It is so important to have His words written on our heart! I love when the Holy Spirit helps me to recall verses I’ve memorized, at just the right time! Such a good thing to be encouraging others to practice in their daily life!

      March 18, 2020 at 4:52 pm Reply
      • danellsteffen

        Yes! He can’t remind us of what we don’t know.

        March 19, 2020 at 1:44 am Reply
  • Erin Gram

    I used to be a lot better at prioritizing scripture memorizing but I’ve gotten out of the habit recently. This gave me a boost and reminder of just how powerful and necessary it is! I’m looking forward to getting started again and keeping God’s word close to my heart!

    March 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      It really does make a difference! I find it so helpful.

      March 19, 2020 at 1:43 am Reply
  • Rachel

    We certainly have a lot of time this next two weeks for memorizing!

    March 18, 2020 at 6:16 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      Yep, I’m planning to do a little extra!

      March 19, 2020 at 1:43 am Reply

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