When I was young(er), I went to a program at my church where, among other things, we memorized verses. These verses impacted me a lot and built the foundation for biblical knowledge. When I graduated into the next program, I memorized 108 verses. Do I remember them all? Definitely not. There are some I wouldn’t even recognize if I heard them. But there were many I did remember for a long time and a few that I still know. These verses taught me theology, gave me faith, and influenced my behavior. Memorizing Scripture can do the same things for you.
…And I just lost half of you.
You can make more of a case for memorizing the Word than for reading it. So I think it’s pretty important. Reading the same words over and over and over again does a lot more for you than simply reading them once. Having these verses in your head will get your mind off of you and your situation and onto what God thinks. You will see benefits.
I Can’t Memorize
What’s your name? What’s your address? What are the lyrics to “Happy Birthday?” How many family members do you have? What are their names? How are you reading this right now? Which channel is your favorite show on? What is your email password, or your Facebook password, or your Twitter password, or your online banking password, or your Netflix password? How do you get to work, or school, or church? What item on the menu do you like to get at ________? If you know the answer to any of these questions, you can memorize. It may be hard, and you may need to repeat things for years before you get them, but you can. So don’t say you can’t. Say you don’t want to.
I understand you! It’s not easy for me to memorize things! I have to work at it, but that’s normal.
The How-To On Memorization
Most of the words that need to be spoken about memorization are not about the need to do it, but how to do it. So I will give you some things I’ve learned in a year of (trying my best at) Scripture memorization.
Tip #1: Start Small
You can’t begin your memorization journey by jumping into something huge. Leave the books for later. Start with (1) small chapters or (2) topical verses. Write down a list of your top ten favorite verses, write them out by hand on little cards, and practice daily for a few weeks. Just pull them out and read them each once, and after weeks of doing this, you’ll have them in your head. If you want to go with a small chapter, I would encourage you to (1) choose a chapter you’re very passionate about, (2) read it at a certain time each day, and (3) use the same Bible. Something about seeing the words in the same place helps.
Tip #2: Use a Method that Works
There are many different methods to memorize. These include:
- Reading it (out loud) over and over and over and over…
- Writing it (or typing it) over and over and over and over…
- Acting it out (while reading) over and over and over and over…
You’re pretty much stuck with repetition. But repetition isn’t bad. God made memorization work this way so it would get drilled into your head!
I think different methods work differently for different people. I tend to go with the first method I mentioned. I’ll sit with the Bible I’m using for that passage and read it and read it and read it until I can say it without error and in the right tone of voice. The same thing might work for you, or you might try something different.
Tip #3: Memorize to Perfection
You know what I mean by this. Work on the passage until you know it like the back of your hand. Some people say you should work on it until you can write it out perfectly and with confidence. This is because you should be able to pass Scripture to others should persecution arise. (Or if you are in another country.)
Tip #4: Review
I have memorized 1 Corinthians 13, James 1, James 2, much of the crucifixion story (with “Memorize with Me“), the Christmas story (from Luke 2:1-20), and Philemon (for its shortness). Right now I could probably recite half of that. And that’s because once I finished, I just let each go. That’s a mistake.
Once you’ve memorized something, you will feel as if you will never forget it. But sadly, you will. If you don’t want that to happen, you need to review often.
Tip #5: Persevere
The first time I memorized completely of my own will was with James. I probably should have started with something smaller. I managed to memorize the first chapter-and-a-half in a year’s time. Now I have gotten a little further, but I think it is crucially important to persevere in anything you really want to do. Don’t give up like I have so many times!
What to Memorize
Here is a short list of passages or verses that would be fairly easy to start off with:
- Romans 8:28-30
- Ephesians 6:14-17
- Hebrews 4:15
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
- 1 Corinthians 13 (thirteen verses)
- Any chapter in James
- Romans 7, 8, or 9
“And that’s it.” (my little brother says that all the time)
Writing this blog post has helped me to remember again the importance of Scripture memorization in my life. I have some topical verse cards that I started working on and I’m hoping to start on a new chapter or book soon.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas and/or inspired you to start memorizing!
Next Friday I’ll have a post up about studying the Word of God and meditating on it (Lord willing), with a tidbit or two about applying the Word to your life. That post will finish up the section of this series about disciplines surrounding the Bible.
God bless you as you seek to let His Word transform you!