How to Memorize Scripture

iStock_000001547067SmallWhy is it important and what are the benefits of memorizing Scripture?  Scripture memory is a powerful tool in growing deeper in your walk with Christ.

The Benefits of Memorizing Scripture

Dallas Willard- “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation.  If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.  This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it!  How does it get in your mouth?  Memorization.”

There is a direct joy that comes from memorizing Scripture.  When your mind is filled with the word of God, it brings a direct joy in that it reveals to you the beauty of Christ.  The word reveals the person of Christ, His perfection, His grace, and His love.  The word of God reveals the tremendous promises of God.  There is also an indirect joy that comes from memorizing Scripture.  When your mind is filled with the word of God it brings indirect joy in that it weans you off the toxic pleasures of the world by means of the superior pleasures of Christ.

Life is going to throw some tough stuff at us.  Temptation to sin, either through lust, greed, pride, anger, you name it.  We will have crushing blows that seem to defeat us. People will disappoint us.  Tragedy will bring great grief.  Notice how many Scripture verses there are that directly apply to so many of the situations we face in life.  What if we had those verses already memorized when those tough challenges come our way?  Psalm 119:9,11- “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word… I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Let’s say you’re facing a situation that tempts you to sin. What do you have in your toolbox to fight against such a temptation- just your willpower?  If so, you’re probably in trouble.  But what if the Holy Spirit brings to mind at this point of spiritual battle a verse from God’s Word? All of these are illustrations of what Eph. 6:17 calls the “sword of the Spirit.”  When the Holy Spirit brings to your mind a pertinent spiritual truth at just the right moment it is a weapon- a sword- that makes the difference in spiritual battle.  Jesus did this in Matt. 4:1-11 when Satan tempted him.  Each time Satan tempted Jesus with a different temptation, Jesus had a spot on Bible verse that directly refuted the specific temptation Satan was throwing at him.  Jesus used Bible passages as weapon against temptation.  But that weapon has to be in place. This is where Scripture memorization comes in.

We can apply this same principle to times when we are trying to encourage someone going through a difficult time, sharing our faith, or making decisions.

Chuck Swindoll- “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture… No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!  Your prayer life will be strengthened.  Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective.  Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change.  Your mind will become alert and observant.  Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced.  Your faith will be solidified.”

So, memorizing Scripture is beneficial to spiritual health and daily life.  But how do we do it?

The Method of Memorizing Scripture

You can memorize better than you think!

Many people say they cannot memorize Scripture because they have a bad memory.  Forgive me, but this is really just an excuse for the vast majority of us.  The problem is not our memory, the problem is we don’t want to be disciplined to put in the work required to memorize Scripture.  What if I offered to pay you $1,000 for every verse you memorized for the next 7 days?  How many verses do you think you could memorize then?  Also, how many movie lines, slogans, and cultural idioms have you committed to memory?  Several years ago the Lord convicted me of how many lines I had involuntarily memorized from movies I had repeatedly watched compared to the amount of Scripture I had memorized.

How do we memorize Scripture?

Write the Verses

1. Buy a pack of Post-It notes. Determine a color that suits your tastes. A color that is too dark or neon does not lend itself to memorization.

Write (in black ink) on each Post-It note one phrase of the verse. Continue this until you have written the entire verse.

Affix the Post-Its to a highly visible place in your bedroom or bathroom where you look often. Post them in vertical descending order. Take additional Post-Its and cover all phrases except the first one.

Memorize the first Post-It. Recite it out loud, 5-10 times without error.

Uncover the next Post-It. Follow step four again, this time with both Post-Its. Do this until the entire verse is memorized.

For a passage of Scripture, write out the passage on a page.  Cover the passage with a sheet of paper except for the first verse.  Recite the first verse 5-10 times and then move to the next verse reciting the previous verse(s) with it.

Memorize Word Perfectly

It’s a temptation, especially when you’re first starting out to fudge on the exact wording.  You get about ¾ of the verse memorized, then insert a few words you made up.  Don’t settle for just getting close, or for the main idea of the verse, or leaving off the reference number of the verse.  Why?  Without an objective standard of measure, you may keep lowering the bar and then eventually quit altogether.  Also, if you don’t have the verse memorized exactly you will lose confidence in sharing that verse to help a friend or witness to someone.  Incidentally, verses you know word perfectly are easier to review than those you don’t know so well.

Seek Accountability

Find a friend to whom you can recite your verses.  This will build accountability.  Here’s a great idea: find a person who doesn’t know the Lord to listen to you recite Bible verses.

Draw Picture Reminders

Sounds silly, but the reality is that most of us are visual learners- especially in this era of technology.  Doesn’t have to be elaborate or “good” art, but making a verse visual can help it stick in your mind better.

  • Psalm 119:11- a heart with a Bible inside of it.
  • Matt. 5:13- saltshaker over planet earth
  • Matt. 7:3-5- plank in the eye

Review, Review, Review!

Reviewing a verse takes a fraction of the time than actually learning or saying the verse aloud. Review your memorized verses once a week, then perhaps once a month, then every 6 months.  It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep a sharp edge on remembering verses. Review verses when you are waiting in traffic, or for an appointment, or trying to go to sleep at night.  Review is important or you will lose what you memorized.

I hope you will make the effort to memorize Scripture.  I believe it will give you a love for God’s Word and will in turn be life-changing.

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