How often have you thought or heard someone say, “I can’t memorize Scripture”. Then the list of excuses… “I’m too old. My mind doesn’t work that way. I have learning issues.” Truth is, memorizing is not actually an inability- we just might need some help going about it. Here are 8 tips to help you OVERCOME your excuses!
There are so many benefits to memorizing God’s Word. One of the greatest is the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to whisper the learned verses back to us during times when we need guidance, reassurance, or encouragement. Another benefit is the peaceful, soothing effect that His Word has on body, soul, and spirit. It reminds us that we are a small part of God’s big world. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world, we just have to walk with Him. As we grow and mature in our faith, God calls us to look beyond ourselves and minister to others. Being able to confidently quote and share Scriptures from His Word is more powerful when talking with someone than having to say, “I know it says something about _______ somewhere in the Bible, but I’m not sure where.” Finally, it makes a statement to God that we value what He has said to us. Using our time to learn His Word shows our confidence and belief in the verse from Proverbs 4:20-22, “…pay attention to what I say, listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.” and in Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
1. Use Music
Do you struggle to remember the words to “Row, Row, Your Boat”? How about ANY song on the radio right now? Can you “sing along”? Music is one of the EASIEST ways to memorize anything. When my kids were little, I set our address and phone number to a tune and sang it over and over until they could sing me their “address”. Really any tune will do. If you are able to purchase a couple of CDs, there are many “Scripture Memory” CDs available where someone else has already done the work of setting it to music for you. Whether you are working on the task for yourself or for your children, there are options available. Mostly what I have used are for kids. My favorites are:
- Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart
- GT and the Halo Express stories and Scriptures songs (the album covers are a little dated, but these are really a great resource for 4-8 year olds- and I LOVE them!)
- Seeds Family Worship CDs
A woman in Bible Study brought some adult CDs for me to try from Integrity Music.
2. Write or Type it
A resource I found this year that has proven helpful is ScriptureTyper.com. Scripture Typer lets you select the verse(s) you are memorizing and then it puts blanks for every other word and you Type in the missing words. Finish that a few times and then switch- it will alternate and let you type the other set of words. This will build confidence and fluency. The acts of writing, typing, or speaking your verses aloud will all help you to engage more of your senses in the process of memorizing. The more senses you engage, the easier it will be to memorize and better long-term success will be found.
If typing is not your preferred method, writing is also an excellent way to practice. I choose to take notes during sermons, Bible study videos, and conferences because I learn things better when I’ve listened AND written them down. Again, engaging more than one sense (hearing it, kinesthetically writing it, and seeing what I’ve written) helps solidify the information in your memory. Wasn’t that the idea behind the child standing at the blackboard writing “I will not talk during class. I will not talk during class. I will not talk during class…” Wasn’t the teacher trying to help the child internalize the statement?
Make your memory verse portable! Write the verse on a notecard (or more than one!). Carry it in your pocket. Put one in your wallet. Tape it to the radio in the car. Stick one to the bathroom mirror and another on the microwave. Every time you see the card, read the verse then try to say as much of it aloud from memory as you can. Frequency of review will be a genuine factor from moving the verse from short term memory (I can write it for the test, but don’t ask me to tell it to you the next morning!) to your long-term memory.
4. Add Illustrations
When studying the “Inductive Bible Study Method” I discovered the benefits and joys of using colored pencils to add very simple drawings to your notecard that will help illustrate the words- for example- put a triangle around the word “God”, a cross behind “Jesus or Christ”, a red heart around the word “love”, etc. I have done the same thing for my children when posting verse cards around the house. Adding small illustrations gives visual cues or hooks for our minds to grab onto.
5. Use Technology
Recently, I wanted to be able to frequently review a verse the Lord placed on my heart, so I took a picture of the verse underlined in my Bible with my phone and then set it as my background. This gave me the opportunity to see it several times a day when I turned on the phone. A modern day “notecard”!
I have found reciting verses as I fall asleep at night to be a great way to memorize. I think my spirit continues to say it after I fall asleep— I have even woke up the next morning still saying the verse. If you are trying to learn a longer passage- try adding a new verse each night. Recite the portion you already know and then review the new verse along with the rest of the passage. The cumulative review and adding just one part each day has worked well for me.
7. Explain It
Explain the meaning of the verse you are learning to someone else. Attempting to memorize words without any real thought to what they mean would be difficult for anyone! If a random set of words was given to me to memorize— I would really struggle to do it. But, when I’m learning a verse that has great meaning to me, it’s a lot easier to learn! Before attempting to memorize the verse, take the time to determine what it really means. Take it phrase by phrase. Breaking the verse into meaningful phrases will help you to learn the verse with fluency and understanding.
If you get hooked on memorizing Scripture and want to really commit to making it a regular part of your life, there is a system of organizing the verses you are learning into groups for daily, weekly, and monthly review. I stumbled across this system some years ago when doing some homeschool planning. You can read the official plan here. What it basically entails is getting dividers for a notecard box and label them with the days of the week and then numbered cards, 1-31. As you learn a new verse, it first travels behind the days of the week so you’ve studied it each day. As it needs less review, leave it behind one day of the week and review it once a week. Finally, after a month or so of that, assign it a day of the month and put it behind that number. Then, review it that day each month. So, as you build up this database of verses, each day you review a daily verse, a weekly verse, and a verse for the day of the month. This system keeps you learning new verses and reviewing older verses, that way the work you’ve done in memorizing is never undone. Those verses are solidly embedded in your lifelong, long-term memory.
We all have more things memorized than we realize… songs lyrics, movie quotes, and TV commercials. I even have a radio jingle memorized from the early 80’s. The company hasn’t existed for 20 years! We memorize most of those things without even trying. Hopefully we can apply some of the techniques that help us to effortlessly memorize things we aren’t trying to memorize. I hope that one or more of the suggestions offered will encourage you to pick out an encouraging verse from Scripture and “hide it in your heart” (Psalm 119:11)!