How to memorize Scripture

We all know that we should be memorizing Scripture.  Psalm 1, Psalm 119, Joshua 1, and many other passages in the Bible tell us again and again that the Word needs to be firmly planted in our minds and hearts.  So I will spare you yet another admonition to memorize the Word.

The problem is that so many of us are convinced that we could never memorize Scripture because…

  • I don’t memorize well.
  • It’s just too hard.
  • I don’t have time.
  • And so on…

In his excellent book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper gives an easy and effective way to memorize the Word.  It is the same method he used to memorize the book of Philippians, which he then recited for his entire church.  You can watch the video here.  In other words, this method works.

Choose a chapter you’d like to memorize.  Yes, an entire chapter, not just a verse.  I recommend that you start with one of the following:

  • Romans 8
  • James 1
  • Colossians 3
  • Matthew 6
  • John 15

I’ll use Romans 8 in the explanation below, but you should work on whatever passage you feel would be most beneficial to you at this point in your journey with Christ.

Day One:

Read Romans 8:1 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes.  Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times.  You’re done for the day.

Day Two:

Recite yesterday’s verse, Romans 8:1 ten times out loud, being sure to include the verse number.  Look at the Bible if you need to in order to refresh your memory.  Next, read Romans 8:2 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes and including the verse number.  Finally, cover the page and recite it ten times.  You’re done for the day.

Day Three:

Recite yesterday’s verse, Romans 8:2 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.  Look at the Bible if you need to in order to refresh your memory.  Next, recite Romans 8:1 AND 2 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers.  Now, do your new verse, Romans 8:3 by reading it out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes, being sure to include the verse number.  Cover the page and recite it ten times.  You’re done for the day.

Day Four:

Recite yesterday’s verse, Romans 8:3 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.  Look at the Bible if you need to in order to refresh your memory.  Next, recite Romans 8:1-3 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers.  Now, do your new verse, Romans 8:4 by reading it out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes and being sure to include the verse number.  Cover the page and recite it ten times.  You’re done for the day.

This cycle will continue until you have the entire chapter memorized, and if you use this process consistently, believe me, you will have it memorized.  Even with doing all of your previous verses each day, this whole process shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes for an entire chapter.

Here are a few keys to making this work for you:

  1. Be consistent: Make this a part of your daily routine and do your best not to skip a day.
  2. Stick to the plan: Even if you do miss a day, do not try and do two verses at once.  Just pick up where you left off and stick with the plan of adding one verse each day.
  3. Don’t skip the review: It’s the review part of the plan that solidifies the verses in your mind and it cannot be skipped over.
  4. Be held accountable: Go to someone in your BASE group that you trust and tell them what chapter you are going to memorize and ask them to hold you accountable.  Each time you meet at BASE Group, recite your verses for your accountability partner.
  5. Have fun! memorizing Scripture is a discipline, but it should not be a chore.  It’s a delight to have God’s Word tucked away in your heart and mind and I pray you will find that to be so in your life.
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