If you are like me, then Scripture memory is a discipline that is hard work. But it brings such blessings!
I confess that most years I’ve done little or no Scripture memorization. But I have also enjoyed some success. Early in our marriage Zonya and I memorized the book of 1 Peter. Later we memorized the Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. That took us only four months! Since then I memorized (or nearly so) the first four chapters of John, as well as several chapters of Isaiah. I say this not to boast (I’ve memorized little in the last year), but to encourage you. It can be done!
And what blessings it brings! I can guarantee that the surest way to understand the sweep of a Bible book and to mine its depths is to store it in your memory, rehearsing it day after day.
Today I can still recite most of Ephesians. John and Isaiah are much less secure, and 1 Peter is nearly completely gone. What makes the difference? Two things: (1) Most importantly by far, review. Since memorizing 1 Peter, we rarely reviewed it. To make it worse, we switched Bible translations, now using ESV instead of the NASB in which we had memorized. (2) Secondly, memorizing verse numbers along with each verse. This technique helped us immensely in developing a mental map of Ephesians.
Having a good plan for memorization and a good plan for review makes a big difference. Here are some tools to help you memorize successfully:
- An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture – Andrew M. Davis — This 16-page booklet is the single best help I’ve found for memorizing long passages and keeping them in your long-term memory. Zonya and I used Davis’ technique when we tackled Ephesians, and it’s why I still remember much of the book today (though I haven’t reviewed as I should). Davis has memorized multiple books of the Bible, including the entire gospel of Matthew–at a rate of 6 verses per day. He speaks from experience, and my own experience tells me his approach is doable. If you need motivation to begin, he will command you from Scripture, dismantle your excuses, and lead you by the hand.
- The Easiest Way to Memorize the Bible – Kenneth Berding — “Before I prepare to preach a series of sermons on a book of the Bible, I first read it out loud 50 times before preaching it.” That sentence was spoken by a man who, according to Berding’s guess, “had all of the New Testament and large sections of the Old Testament committed to memory.” Reading and rereading is the simple key here. I think the title of this article might be true, although I think Davis’ approach is more likely to lodge a passage in your mind long-term. (Isaiah according to Berding didn’t stick as well as Ephesians according to Davis–mostly, I think, because of the missing verse references.) This is an inspiring article and might offer the best approach for you. And I think the advice about sermon preparation is flawless!
- Two More Tools — I’m a bit skeptical about relying on widgets and gadgets for Bible memory. But here are two tools that we’ve used some at our house. Both are designed to get a passage into your short-term memory. Memorize Now is a website where you enter text and it presents it back to you with an increasing number of random blanks (missing words) to test your memory. It can also show you just the first letter of each word. You can save your entered text and use this tool offline, too. Remember Me is an app you can use on just about any device. I liked how you can add whatever text you want (from the app library of over 40 translations), edit it to add or remove references as you wish, and then have the app read and reread the text aloud to you. I have achieved my best successes in Scripture memory without using these apps, so I encourage you not to let technology distract you from your task. But maybe one of these will help you.
If you have a Bible memorization success story or tip, share it in the comments below!