Have you heard about people who memorize entire books of the Bible? It's incredible. I've even heard about Bible memory competitions where 8-year-olds spout off entire chapters of the Bible at a time. Wow. Yet while I'm amazed at such awesome feats, hearing about them sometimes leaves me feeling inadequate. It feels unachievable for a normal person like me.How could I, a mom of three young kids who struggles to remember what day it is, memorize an entire book of the Bible?
But before we count this one off to the professionals, let's consider how much we already have memorized in life. Think about how many song lyrics, or baby schedules, or sports statistics you know by heart. It's not that we can't memorize information; it's that we often fill our minds with other things.
To memorize the Bible, we must make it a priority and regular practice in our lives. So, if you'd like to memorize large passages of Scripture, prayerfully consider these steps:
- Know Your Why
Why do you want to memorize the Bible? And why do you want to memorize a larger passage of Scripture? Personally, I want to know the Bible because it is God's Word, and it is my guide in life. I can't even count the number of times that God has brought Scripture to mind at just the right moment to correct, rebuke, or encourage me. I want to have God's Word hidden in my heart, so I know Him better.
I also want to memorize Scripture so that I can store it away for rainy days. Jen Wilkin talks about this idea by referring to Bible study as a savings account. Day after day, we invest into our savings account by reading the Word, praying, memorizing Scripture, and studying it. We may not always understand why we're memorizing a certain passage of Scripture. It may not immediately feel effective. But, as we sow God's Word into our hearts, we trust that it does not return void. He will use His Word in our lives to shape and transform us. We may even be able to share a word with someone else, at a later date, as an encouragement to them. God's Word renews our minds and transforms us into His image. His Word brings us encouragement, hope, and strength when we need it.
I also love memorizing large passages of Scripture to know the verses of the Bible in context. The heart is deceitful, and we all tend to twist God's truth to fit our own desires. I want to know God's Word as He intended it to be read, not taking it out of context or using it for selfish purposes. Memorizing larger sections of Scripture helps me do this.
- Find an Accountability Person
Spiritual disciplines are contagious. When we see a friend following after the Lord wholeheartedly, it makes us want to run after Him too. If you desire to memorize a larger section of Scripture, ask a friend to join you! If your friend doesn't want to memorize the verses with you, ask if she will test you on them each week. All she'll need to do is read the verses as you recite them to her.
The Christian life is hard, and on our own, we will often give up. Seek out accountability systems to help you in this process.
- Pick a Method
In college, I wanted to memorize Scripture regularly. I'd regularly try out new methods, but within a few weeks, abandon them altogether. I'd write down verses on notecards but never look at them. Then, at the beginning of every semester, I'd get a pretty new notebook to write down memory verses. "This was it," I'd be convinced."This was the notebook to change everything. I'll finally stick to it this time." But once again, I'd start this new Bible memory system, only to fall off the wagon within a few weeks, until the next semester, when I'd start the cycle all over again. I assumed that I had a poor method, but what I really had was poor follow-through.
Really, there are many systems of Scripture memory from which you can choose. But the best system is one you'll consistently use. Start with small, realistic goals. If you've never memorized the Bible before, start with a verse or two. Then work up to a chapter or section of Scripture you'd like to memorize. Study it first to make sure that you understand its meaning. Then break the section down into memorizable pieces, perhaps a verse at a time.
Create a plan to memorize your chosen passage. Some sample methods include:
- Use a Bible memory notebook such as the Daily Grace Co's Dwell Scripture Memory Journals.
- Memorize a verse a week. Recite the new verse seven times a day until you have it memorized. Then rehearse the entire passage altogether. The following week, add a new verse, reciting it seven times until you have it memorized, then reviewing the entire passage. Continue this method until you've memorized the whole passage.
- Use time alone in the car during your commute, or recite the verses out loud in front of your kids each day. This is also a great way to model Scripture memory for your kids.
- Try an app, such as the Bible Memory app. If you find that you're on your phone a lot, this can be a great way to redeem your phone time as well.
- Write down the first letter of each word from the verse on your hand. For example, you could write "TITLWAYHP35" on your hand, which stands for "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" Proverbs 3:5, and look at it throughout the day. Review the passage until you can recite the verse without looking. Then, add another verse to your hand.
- Write down each verse on a notecard and hang the cards around your house.
- Put Scripture to music.
While you may find that one method works better with your personality, there is no magic method. Memorizing large sections of Scripture will require discipline and endurance, but it is a worthy endeavor.
4. Create a schedule
Whatever method you choose, make it a regular part of your day. Life is busy, and unless we prioritize Bible memorization, it will not happen naturally. Find a time of day that works for you, and stick with it.
At the same time, if you find that you forget to memorize your verse for a day, don't abandon the system altogether. As GK Chesterton said, "Anything that is worth doing is worth doing badly." If you want to memorize the Bible, stick with it, even if the process is not as consistent as you would like. The big-picture goal is to know God's Word better. This is worth doing, even if we miss a few days.
God wants us to know His Word, and He will help us in this process. As you try to memorize a larger section of Scripture, ask God for help. He can help us memorize His Word, and He can even help those of us with bad memories.
For more resources on memorizing God's Word, check out:
- Dwell: https://thedailygraceco.com/products/dwell-scripture-memory-journal-psalms
- Dwell Bundle: https://thedailygraceco.com/products/dwell-scripture-memory-journal-bundle?_pos=2&_sid=e7218f75b&_ss=r
- Daily Grace Co Scripture Cards: https://thedailygraceco.com/search?type=product%2Carticle%2Cpage%2Ccollection&q=scripture%20cards*
- The Bible Memory App: https://biblememory.com