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Trouble memorizing Scripture?

How many times have you caught yourself saying something like, “Somewhere in the Bible it says something about…um…er….”   I have had people tell me that they can’t memorize their way out of a paper bag. But God doesn’t ask us to stuff His Word in with the groceries; He wants it firmly planted in our hearts so that we will remember Him.

Jewish children are still taught to memorize the Torah by 12, and many learn the entire Old Testament by adulthood. And yet we struggle trying to remember where John 3:16 is!

My own brain cells get a little rusty at times, and thankfully, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has some handy tips on how to strengthen our armor and memorize verses and their addresses. If you have any tips for memorizing Bible verses, add them to the comments section.

How to Memorize Scripture

by Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry CARM

Many people don’t think they can memorize their way out of a new shopping mall let alone remember a verse in the Bible.  I’ve spoken with dozens of people about Scripture memorization who say the same thing: “I have a terrible memory.”  My answer to them is, “Nonsense!”  Everyone memorizes all the time.  You’ve learned to speak, haven’t you?  You’ve memorized thousands of do’s and don’t’s in life, right?  You know your social security number, your phone number, your address, how many brothers, sisters, or children you have, how to get to work and what to do when you get there.  The problem is not that people can’t memorize, it’s that they won’t memorize.

The Bible is the foundation for witnessing and you must memorize verses to be able to use it — this applies to your devotional life as well as witnessing.  One serious problem I’ve found is that most people have memorized fewer than seven verses.  The average Jehovah’s Witness has committed many more to memory and, given the opportunity, could make the average Christian feel about as knowledgeable as banana bread. What I would like to do is help you memorize better.

Four easy steps to memorization

There are four easy steps to Scripture memorization.  Let’s use 1 Peter. 2:24 as an example: “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed” (NASB).

Step 1: Location

The first step is to memorize the location, not the verse.  The reason for this is if you forget the verse, but you’ve memorized the location, you can always go look it up.

First, memorize the location: “1 Peter 2:24.”  Say “1 Peter 2:24” over and over again. Don’t worry about what it says at first, just memorize the location.  Make sure that when you say 1 Peter 2:24 it flows smoothly off your lips.  Say 1 Peter 2:24 emphasizing different syllables.  Say 1 Peter 2:24, or 1 Peter 2:24 or 1 Peter 2:24 or even 1 Peter 2:24.  But say 1 Peter 2:24 enough times that when you say 1 Peter 2:24, it is as natural as breathing.

Step 2: Gist

The second step is to learn the gist of what the verse is.  In this case it is very simple, “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross.”  Say, “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross” in different ways.  Say, “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross,” or “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross,” and “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross,” etc.  But say “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross” enough times that when you say, “Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross,” it is as natural as saying 1 Peter. 2:24.  (Kind of repetitive, isn’t it?)

Step 3: Association

The third part is more fun.  This is where you associate the two together.  Say, “1 Peter 2:24 is Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross.  Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross is 1 Peter 2:24.  1 Peter 2:24 is Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross…”.  Say this over and over again, about ten times.  In no time, if you do this, you will memorize.

This association part is important because it helps you to think of one part whenever you think of the other.  For example, if someone asked you “Where does it say that Jesus bore our sin in his body?”, you’d immediately reply with “1 Peter. 2:24.”  It works.

Step 4: A piece of paper

The fourth and final part is to take a piece of lined paper, 8 1/2″ by 11″, and draw a vertical line about one inch from the left hand side.

Write the verse location in the left column on your paper and on the right side simply write the verse.  Do this with each verse you want to remember.  Fold it up, put it in your pocket or purse, and carry it with you everywhere you go.  When you forget a verse or its location simply pull out the paper and refresh your memory.  In no time at all, you’ll have over one hundred verses committed to memory.

Memorization is like exercise.  The more you do it, the easier it gets; the less you do the harder it gets.  So do it.  If you follow this procedure your mind will become like a sponge, you’ll end up memorizing all sorts of stuff with the greatest of ease, like how many socks are in your drawer, everything that is in your refrigerator, and even where your car keys are.

And one more thing.  You will be amazed at how the Lord uses what you’ve memorized.

Recommended verses to memorize

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2 Responses to “Trouble memorizing Scripture?”

  1. Mr Davis #

    What is missing here is the exercise part. When you develop a habit of talking about the scriptures which we are supposed to be in the habit of doing,

    Philippians 4
    8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: (That would be Paul the apostle not nessesarily your pastor because there are not many who follow Paul who are considered pastors) and the God of peace shall be with you.

    Your own frustration with not knowing where something is will drive you to memorize because it will be important. Then there is the application part. We are not just to be hearers of the word but doers also. If we hear and do, it is not our will we are following but the one whose message we hear. Then the more we do it the more we know it.

    There is a promise in John 8

    31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    To know here means "to really know" or heart knowledge not just head knowledge.

    Hebrews 5 yet another

    14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    Romans 12 another

    1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    If we are hearers only (our actions do not reflect what we know) we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. James 1:22 So we have a problem right out of the gate as indicated Romans 8

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    The flesh looks to justify itself always, it always seeks the loopholes, it always blames others, the flesh envies, the flesh boasts, the flesh looks to itself. Fortunately for us this is also how we can identify the spirit of false hood/ the anti christ for this is exactly how the world speaks. This is proof by the way of Satan's dominion here. The world is following after its king and does his bidding. Fortunately for us this is all under God's direction and according to His divine purpose which He purposes in Himself. We have a Champion and He it is who overcame the world. Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28

    1 John 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

    So this must be our practice
    Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    May God bless you in all Spiritual Blessings after the Truth that is in Christ that your life reflect Him and your hope in Him remain steadfast unto the end.

    May His peace be will you all.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:43 AM Reply
  2. Rose Vosburgh #

    I like to memorize whole chapters or a psalm. I write out a few verses on index cards. I work on those verses until I know them and then add a few more until I have the entire chapter or psalm on notecards. (I use the largest cards I can find.) As I go over the verses each day, if I leave out a word or get stuck on one part, I circle it in red. Once I have the entire chapter memorized, I review it every day until I have it mastered completely. Once it is completely mastered, I don't forget it. But it takes reviewing it daily…maybe for a whole month or more to get to that place. It is work to memorize, but fun and rewarding also. But, as Mr. Davis, says what really makes it all worthwhile is the 'exercise'…applying what we are learning to recite to our every day lives…living out the verses and growing in Christian character and in faith.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:28 PM Reply

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