Maybe you already memorize Bible verses. Maybe you’ve never tried. This isn’t a post about why you should or shouldn’t. It’s just about some ways you can.
1. PRACTICE WITH FIRST LETTERS
This helps in the early stages. Insert the verse you’re memorizing in the empty box on this site—“How to Memorize Verbatim Text”. Click “convert” to get the first letter of each word. Then by looking at the first letters only (you don’t have to memorize these), practice saying the verse. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can say the verse using only these letters.
For John 15, I’m reviewing only the previous week’s verses and the current week’s verses twice a day this way. I copied the letters into my Outlook calendar as a recurring appointment each morning and afternoon. Each review takes only about 30 seconds.
2. LEARN THE FIRST WORDS
A big stumbling block is the inability to recall the first word of each verse. Make special efforts to learn it solidly. Try highlighting the first word of each verse of a chapter or section you’re memorizing. Then look for loose patterns among those first words. With Isaiah 55, verses 8-10 all started with “For.” Even though I wasn’t consciously trying to memorize that, it helped push me from the end of one verse to the beginning of the next.
When you’re memorizing several verses in a row, little things can give you a huge boost forward.
3. DRAW IT UP
Make a cartoon sketch to capture the flow of the verse, using whatever images help you best remember the words (sometimes the crazier, the better). You don’t have to draw out every word, but at least hit the main nouns and verbs.
I don’t do this with every verse, but it definitely helps burn a verse in my memory when I do it with hard ones.
4. MAP IT OUT
Hard-core memorizers of random strings of numbers and cards use a map method [read Joshua Foer’s book, Moonwalking with Einstein]. It should work even easier when memorizing connected things. Here’s how I used a mental map to memorize Isaiah 55.
Isa 55:1 – “Come, everyone who thirsts” (Start at my kitchen sink)
Isa 55:2—“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread” (Go left to the pantry where I keep bread)
Isa 55:3—“Incline your ear” (Keep going left to hear the ice maker—it’s a stretch, I know)
And so on with each verse, one step at a time around my kitchen. 13 verses, 13 sequential stopping points. With John 15, I’m mentally starting at my bedroom door with verses 1 and 2, working through dresser drawers, windows, wall pictures, etc., with subsequent verses.
5. DISSECT IT
If word etymology interests you, look up each main word in its original Greek or Hebrew to uncover a fuller meaning. (I use e-Sword.net which makes it super easy and it’s free.) Better understanding the original intent makes it stickier in your memory. I only spend a few minutes at the beginning of the week doing this, but it goes a long way in comprehending and remembering the text.
Also try reading your verse in different translations, looking up what others say in commentaries, cross-referencing key words to other passages, etc. Your memory verse can be a great study opportunity.
Don’t do every thing every day! You’ll give up after the first week. [Read “5 reasons to not give up”] Just a few minutes per day of concentrated effort can take you farther than you imagine.
Because in the end, it’s your relationship with God that matters the most, not how many words you’ve memorized.
Embedding his words in your head is worthless if they don’t do something to your heart.
Like any other spiritual discipline, memorizing scripture is only one means to this beautiful end: discovering how much God loves you and loving him back because of it.
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- Are you good enough to witness?
- I hate fat pillows