You’re right. For most of us – me included – it’s hard to memorize Scripture. It requires commitment, time, and purposeful effort. But the worth far outweighs the work.
A couple of years ago while preparing two messages for a women’s conference from the book of Philippians, the Spirit prompted me to memorize Philippians 4:4-13. The process deepened my understanding of the text, helped me embrace the spiritual truths, and personally connected me with that part of God’s Word. (See also “Why I Tackle Scripture Memory and How I Do It?”)
After the conference, I once again felt the Spirit’s prompting to memorize. This time, the whole book of Philippians! With a bit of apprehension, I said yes. It took me about two years, but I did it. Again, the process was hard, but I cherish the connection I have to God’s wonderful truths in Philippians. And I’m ready to jump into another large section of Scripture. The Sermon on the Mount is next! (By the way, you can hold me accountable.)
My Scripture Memory Cards
I’m really old school. First, I write out the verses on 5×8 index cards. Even though I now use other translations for study and devotional reading, I use the NIV 1984 for memory because I have other passages memorized from this translation. Use the translation you are most familiar with. (If you prefer a digital system, check out the BibleMemoryApp!)
Sometimes, when I know I’ll have a few minutes of downtime somewhere along the way, I carry the cards with me. But I also take photos of each card and put them in a folder on my phone. That way, if I’m out and have an unexpected few minutes to review and I get stuck, I simply look on my phone.
I work on a verse – or a thought if it carries over to another verse – at a time. I read it out loud until I can begin to say it back from memory. I start phrase by phrase, working up to the entire verse with the reference. When I feel comfortable with that, I add the next verse.
I can summarize my basic memory method with three R’s – Read, Recite, Review. (If you need some direction on where to start memorizing, check out the various Scripture Memory Plans on my resources page.)
8 Helpful Activities to Help You Memorize Scripture
There are other things you can add to those Three Rs to enhance the memory process. The first two are the most important. The exact benefit of the other suggestions will depend on your learning style. (Also see “Scripture Memory Tips.”)
- Consider the context – We want to have a correct understanding of any verse or passage we memorize. Taking Scripture out of its context is probably the most often cause for misunderstanding. (Also see “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context” and “Do You Misuse Philippians 4:13?”)
- Reflect on Key Truths – Spend a few moments reflecting on the spiritual truths the verse teaches. This will help implant them in your heart and mind. (See also “The 4 R Bible Study Method for Everyday Use.”) For instance, what does the passage teach about God’s character, purposes, and ways? What does it teach about the nature of mankind or salvation or living a life that pleases God?
- Identify Anchor Words – Identify two to four key words or “anchor” words in the passage to help you remember it. For instance, in Psalm 46:1, three solid anchor words to remember could be “refuge,” “strength,” and “help.” Circle these words on the front of the Scripture card and then write them on the back. Use these words as prompts during the memorization process.
- Draw a Picture or Symbol – On the back of your Scripture card, draw a symbol or picture that visually represents the verse. For instance, for Psalm 46:1 you could draw a fort or castle. Along with your anchor words, this picture or symbol will be another prompt to remember the truths and content of the verse or passage.
- Record It (great for auditory learners) – Use your smart phone, computer, or another device to record yourself reading or reciting the passage. Play it back throughout the day to further reinforce it in your memory.
- Choose an Object (great for tactile learners) – Select an object around your home or office that will remind you of the verse or passage each time you see it. For instance, for Psalm 46:1, a rock or stone object would remind you that God is your refuge, a strong safe place.
- Use Multiple Cards – Write the verse on more than just your primary card. Place these extra cards wherever you will seem them throughout the day and can take a moment to review – the bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink, your car visor, your computer monitor, above the washer and dryer, the refrigerator door.
- Reword it – Rewrite the verse in your own words. This will help you think about the meaning and how it should apply to your own life.
Let’s talk! Is there another activity that helped you memorize Scripture in the past you’d like to share?