I have never chosen a word for the year or a life verse or anything like that. But at the beginning of last year, I decided to memorize a short passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11. It’s only five verses, so no problem, right?
But it never happened. Somehow, in all 12 months of the year — all 52 weeks, all 365 days — I didn’t even memorize the first verse.
I bumped last year’s goal to this year because I still want to memorize this passage. And guess what? We’re just a few weeks into the new year, but I’m already three verses in. Maybe I can knock the rest of this out before Super Bowl Sunday.
Memorizing Scripture is nothing new. Generations of believers have seen the value of committing God’s Word to memory, and some have done so in impressive quantities: Fanny Crosby memorized five Bible chapters every week.
Most likely I won’t increase my memorization capabilities to anywhere near that level. But as we start out — or even if you’ve been memorizing verses for years — it can be helpful to try several different methods of memorizing Scripture to find what works best.
Writing it out. I’ve heard this suggestion many times, so it must be helpful for a lot of people. Writing something down forces you to slow down and think over the words as you write them.
Remove a word. I loved this as a kid! My mom wrote out verses one word at a time on little cards. At first, we would practice the verses with all the cards, trying to put them in order. As we improved, we could take cards out and fill in the blanks from memory. A great hands-on, visual memorization tactic.
Repeat it. This is my go-to. If I take one verse at a time, or even just a phrase at a time, and repeat it over and over, accenting each word as I go along, it helps me remember even the smaller words that are easily interchangeable (like “each other” or “one another”).
Post it somewhere visible. Probably not your car dash (unless you promise to only look at it when your car is parked), but maybe the bathroom mirror or by your computer? Wherever you think you will see it often when you have a couple minutes to say it a few times to yourself.
Make use of technology. There are a few apps available for Scripture memorization. Some apps are likely better than others, but this could be a helpful option. Sometimes I find myself reaching for my phone more out of habit than any real need to do anything with it. What better way to redeem that impulse than to open a Bible memorization app each time?
Practice with a friend. Not only does this method have built-in accountability, but a friend can tailor how much help they give you to how much help you need. When you’re practicing with yourself or with technology, there’s only so much adaptability possible. A friend can give you a hint when you need it to help you get to the next level.
No matter which method you decide to try first, memorizing Scripture will take work — and repetition. Whether you write it out or say it out loud, practice your verse or passage several times a day to help your work move from short-term to long-term memory.
Ultimately, any or all of these methods may work well for you. But as my lack of success last year shows, memorization takes more than being interested — it takes work. No matter how well-thought-out or strategic any of our memorization plans may be, none of us will memorize any Scripture in the coming 52 weeks unless we choose to work at it — unless we choose to value Scripture over our entertainment, to-do list, or any other distractions.
What is our motivation in memorizing Scripture? Why are we doing this? A few of these verses can be a great way to kick off our memorization plan and help us remember why Scripture memory is valuable:
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple…More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:7-11
“…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17
What are you waiting for? What verse are you going to memorize first?
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