Three Tips for Memorizing Scripture

Today I told my story at my church and how God has used His Word in my life.

But I originally thought I was going to talk about memorizing Scripture, so I came up with three tips if people want to try adding some memorizing Scripture into their devotional routine.

A few years ago, I talked about Why Memorizing Scripture is a great thing to add to your personal devotional life. Now I’d just like to mention three practical tips.

1. Consider memorizing entire chapters.

When you memorize an entire chapter, you get the train of thought of the passage. It’s easier to remember, and you get the entire context. You’re not just listening to a snippet here and there.

2. Consider memorizing by time, rather than by amount.

The truth is that different verses in the Bible take different amounts of time to learn. And different chapters take different amounts of time. Psalms are easier than the gospels, for example. But Psalm 117 has two verses and Psalm 119 has 176 verses. If you try to memorize a verse a day or a chapter a month, you may run into trouble.

Also, this makes it not about skill. I may not be *able* to learn some particular chapter in a month — but what I can do is spend 10 minutes a day memorizing.

This way, I don’t get mad at myself if I do it slowly. If it takes me a long time to memorize a chapter, I figure that God wanted me to spend more time on it.

I did an hour a day when I was a kid and my parents were paying me to memorize. Now I do ten minutes a day. This is something that anyone can do (or some amount of time), regardless of “ability.” So now you don’t have to even think about ability — but just spending time with God’s Word.

3. One Thing at a Time.

This works on the macro and micro level.

For chapters, I don’t try to keep more than one chapter in short-term memory at a time. I stumbled on this because my parents paid me to memorize and gave me half-price for chapters I reviewed a month later. 10 cents a verse the first time, 5 cents a verse every time after, as long as there was at least a month in between. It turned out that reviewing was where the real money was to be made!

But what I discovered was this: The second time I memorized a chapter, it was almost as hard as the first time. However, by about the sixth time, that chapter was firmly stored in my long-term memory and was mine for life.

But if I try to have everything I’ve ever memorized on the tip of my tongue at all times — I’m setting myself up for failure. Focus on one thing at a time. Then make a habit of coming back to chapters you’ve memorized before. Eventually, that reviewing process will get easier and easier.

When memorizing a long chapter, I don’t work on more than one thing at a time, either. I don’t learn verse 1, then verse 1 and 2, then 1 through 3. Instead, I first memorize each verse, one at a time. Then I go back and memorize each paragraph. (I won’t remember verse 1 when I start on the first paragraph. But it will come back after awhile.) Then, depending on how long the chapter is, I might go back and learn a section at a time. Eventually, I’m working on the whole chapter. I count it as completed when I can sit down and say the chapter perfectly the first time I recite it in the morning. If there’s a mistake somewhere — that means I need to try again the next day. God knew I needed more time with it!

(I usually then pick a verse from the chapter I’m working on that day and write in my journal, talking to God about it.)

Consider adding this habit to your daily devotions. It’s blessed me over and over again. Because God’s Word has power.

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