If you’re like most people, the idea of memorization can bring back bad memories from school. You think of all the times you were forced to memorize endless lists of facts and then reproduce them on a test, only to forget them a short time later.
However, memorizing Scripture is very different than trying to master a list of arbitrary facts. When we commit God’s word to memory, you reap the benefits for the rest of our lives.
First and foremost, before we learn how to memorize scripture, we should know why it's important to. We should memorize Scripture because it is God’s word. The living God has revealed Himself to us in His word. He has given us wonderful promises and commands. He tells us what He is like and the things He desires. Because the word of God is so important, we should commit it to memory.
Second, we should memorize the Bible because the Holy Spirit will use the Scriptures we memorize to make us more like Christ. When we are tempted to sin, the Spirit will bring the commands of God to mind and help us flee from temptation. When we are discouraged, the Spirit will give us hope through the promises of God. When we’re sharing our faith with someone else, the Spirit will give us specific verses to share with that person.
Psalm 119:9-11 puts it this way:
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Now let’s talk about some specific methods for memorizing Scripture. There is no single right way to do it. Every person learns differently, and you might find that some of these methods work better for you than others. Discover what works best for you and stick with it.
When you’re first getting started, it’s important that you start small.
If you try to memorize a huge chunk of Scripture right off the bat, there’s a good chance you’ll become discouraged by your lack of progress and give up. Scripture memorization is like any skill: the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Start with just a verse or two. As you make progress, slowly add in a bit more. But don’t go too fast! Make sure you’ve really got the first few verses down before you start adding in more. Remember, there’s no rush. You’re trying to create a habit that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
When selecting your first verses, it can be helpful to pick ones that are relevant to your life. For example, if you’re struggling with anxiety, Philippians 4:6 would be a great verse to memorize: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…”
It can be helpful to have a specific plan to guide you through your Scripture memorization. Instead of selecting random verses to memorize, a Scripture memory plan gives you a specific set of verses to work on.
Unless you’re a genius with a photographic memory, you’re going to need to go over the verses you’re memorizing again and again. There simply is no substitute for repetition. Your goal is to get the verses burned into your brain to the point where you can repeat them easily and without error.
Don’t worry if you make slow progress. The goal isn’t to memorize verses as fast as possible. The goal is to begin storing up God’s word in your heart over time.
Pastor Adrian Rogers said:
"Hide the Word of God in your heart. Don’t say, 'I just can’t memorize!' Memory comes with concentration, motivation, and use. Your mind is a marvel, and you can remember far more than you think you can. Fill your mind with the Word so what is inside will flow forth blessing and honor to God."
When it comes to memorization, music is an incredibly powerful tool. If you’ve ever gotten a song or jingle stuck in your head, you know just how powerful music is. You can tap into this power by listening to Scripture set to music. As you listen, you’ll be amazed by how quickly the verses get stuck in your mind!
Thankfully, many people have put Scripture to music and made those songs available to everyone:
You can listen to these verses as you drive to work, go for a jog, or do yard work.
Thanks to technology, it’s now easier than ever to memorize Scripture. A smartphone app can guide you in terms of which verses you should memorize and provide you with specific tactics for improving your memorization.
For example, the Bible Memory App offers 55 different collections of verses, with each collection focused on a different subject. There are collections about eternal life, faith, healing, giving, freedom from sin, God’s plan for me, and dozens of others.
The app also offers three different ways to memorize Scripture:
You can also join groups of people who will challenge you to go further in your Scripture memory.
One easy way to ensure you get a lot of repetition with your verses is to put them everywhere! Write the verses on a sticky notes or index cards and then:
Your goal is to expose yourself to the verses as much as possible. When you get into the car and see the verses on the steering wheel, say them out loud at least once. When you’re waiting in the doctor’s office, pull the verses out of your purse and give them a quick run through. When you sit down at work, read the verses on your computer monitor. All these seemingly small actions will quickly add up and you’ll find yourself making great progress.
If you know more than one language, translating the verses you’re memorizing from one language to another can be a tremendously effective way to memorize Scripture. When you do translation, you have to focus very closely on what each word means. This forces you to slow down and think hard about the verse, which causes it to be pressed into your memory.
Have you ever wanted to know what the Bible says about certain topics such as salvation, obedience, peace, prayer, and sin, to name a few? Then, you've come to the right place. Here, LWF provides Scripture references for key topics that concern many people who are searching and growing in their faith. For further study on any of these topics, visit the LWF Resource Center.
More than anything else, it’s essential that you stick with Scripture memorization over the long haul. There are no shortcuts. The above tips for how to memorize Scripture can make things easier, but they’re no substitute for diligence. Tactics can’t replace perseverance.
As you work to memorize the Bible, you probably won’t see a huge amount of progress in the beginning. Don’t let that discourage you. You’re not superhuman and you shouldn’t expect your brain to be able to memorize huge chunks of Scripture right away.
But if you stick with it, you’ll be absolutely amazed at how much progress you make. Over time, you’ll commit hundreds, even thousands of verses to memory, and God will use the memorized verses in amazing ways in your life. The way you think and live will be transformed by the word of God.
Pastor Rogers said:
It’s amazing what people do to try to purify themselves – fast, pray, kneel, walk, self-flagellate, hibernate, isolate. But sadly, they discover that human efforts aren’t the pathway to purity because they keep doing what Zig Ziglar calls “stinkin‘ thinkin‘.” Before we can hope to have a life of purity, we must have a clean thought life.
God works from the inside out. He knows you can’t purify the water by painting the pump.