Most of us understand the value of memorizing scripture. It helps us in our daily walk and it helps us to interject encouragements to others where needed. Hearing the word of God also helps us to increase our faith. Memorizing bible scripture is not an easy task though. There’s over 31,100 bible verses! That’s a lot of information to take in.
It’s easy to look at the memory experts and become awestruck at their capabilities. I’m doing good to remember the names of new co-workers I met yesterday much less memorize a deck of cards in under a minute! They’re “just normal people” you’ll often hear. Yeah yeah…and Olympians are normal runners. But I digress. There must be a way for the ordinary soul to better retain the scriptural information we’ve absorbed. And indeed there is!
You’re actually one step ahead of the memory experts when it comes to memorizing bible verses. Perhaps two steps ahead and you just don’t realize it. This is simply because the methodology they use is naturally encoded into what you’re trying to accomplish. The mnemonic activities they employ are not something you have to invent in order to remember ‘random’ things. Let me expound on this a bit more.
The memory system employed by the ‘experts’ is merely a system of creativity. Numbers and letters get transposed into pictures that are then used to create a story. Why do they do this? They do it because a story is much easier to recall than random sets of gibberish. Two jack rabbits clubbed my heart with a spade is much easier to recall than a jack of hearts and a jack of spades (well, it is when you have dozens of other cards to remember as well). Memory experts are not memorizing the cards, they’re memorizing the story that they created with it! Are you starting to see my point yet?
When it comes to memorizing scripture and more importantly, recalling those verses, you need to focus on the details of the story. Who was speaking? What was the reaction? Anything odd stand out? Ask yourself these questions and others like it to extrapolate the details. If you understand the details, you’ll find it much easier to recall the verses. You’re one step ahead of the experts because the Bible has its own story already in place, you don’t have to create one.
You don’t have to fully understand the depth of a bible verse to memorize it but you do need to know how it fits into the story and, equally as important, you need to acknowledge what you don’t understand in the passage. People tend to have a hard time memorizing what they don’t understand. To use a pun, this is understandable. If you single out the portion of the verse that confuses you then you’ll find recalling the verse in its entirety will be much, much easier. In other words, the doctrinal interpretation of a bible passage may confuse you but if you recognize you don’t understand what it means then you’ll escape the all too common mistake of ‘glossing over it’. When you just gloss over bible passages, you’ll surely forget them. If you want to see ‘glossing over’ in action then go read Numbers chapter 1
What people don’t want to hear is that memorizing large quantities of information takes practice. It takes a lot of practice. The memory professionals didn’t wake up one morning and just memorize a deck of cards. They spent countless years perfecting what they do. Likewise, you’ll have to spend a lot of time reading the bible. You can’t memorize what you haven’t read. So, first things first, flip open the pages and start reading. Second, read it some more. Third, read until you see it in your sleep!
Reading isn’t the only key to scripture memorization though. You need to exercise what you’re focusing on. There was a good reason my second grade teacher made me write spelling words on the chalk board (over and over and over). You need to work out what you’re putting in. If you don’t spend time exercising your recall then your ability to recall is going to suffer. That form of exercise can come in daily use during conversation or it can be more rigid: open up a notebook and see how much you can write before you start to forget the details!
Read the bible, exercise what you read, practice recalling it. Those are the fundamentals of memorizing scripture. It really is as simple as that. The more you do those three things the more you’ll be able to rattle off those bible verses during the times you need. Don’t try to complicate it by making it any harder. Stay focused on those three points.
To keep yourself motivated, set a goal. Let’s say your 10 favorite verses, start with those. Write those verses down. When you can recall them successfully by writing without looking, then add two more verses to see if you can write all twelve. Increase the limit to keep yourself challenged.
An additional tip I can offer is to use the King James Bible. It is much more poetic with the old English and therefore easier to recall. That Shakespearean overtone gives it a mnemonic hook to help you remember. Don’t confuse yourself by inter-meddling with other ‘modern translations’. Stick to the tried and true. The KJV is used more abundantly than any other reading and that fact alone will help you memorize verses better if you stay with it.
Last but not least, you should know ‘why’ you are trying to memorize scripture. If you’re hoping to win some holier than thou contest, start by memorizing 1 Corinthians 8:1. A car is a great tool in life if you’re willing to drive one according to the rules of the road. The same holds true for Scripture. If you’re motivations are off, you’re going to wreck your life no matter how many verses you memorize. Granted, it’s better to memorize the bible than to not memorize it but I feel compelled to chalk out that warning.
Best wishes in your efforts.Let me start you on your way to memorizing scripture by offering one that heeds you to remember!
I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (Psa 77:11)