Tips for Memorizing Extended Portions of Scripture

Scripture memory is important in the life of every believer to fight the good fight of faith. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). I have especially found the memorizing of larger portions of Scripture to be helpful.  Here is some advice to help you in the process.

1. Pick a portion of Scripture you want to memorize. An extended portion of Scripture is good. It helps for the sake of context. Try an entire book of the Bible or several chapters.
2. Find a form of accountability. Our family has done some memorization together. It can be great fun.
3. Using pen and ink, write out the verses you want to memorize neatly on cards. I have uses the backs of old business cards. They are portable and can be carried wherever you go. It’s important that the cards not be typed, because handwriting is unique. You can often “picture” the card in your mind.
4. If possible, secure a recording of the portion of Scripture you are memorizing. Play this tape or CD over and over and over again. It will help familiarize you with the words you are trying to memorize and will make the learning of new verses easier. It can also be used nicely for review.
5. To learn a new verse, start by reading it out loud over and over again. I have found that 10-15 times is often sufficient. It’s important that you read the verse out loud. There is something about forcing your mouth to say the words and hearing the words with your ears that helps you retain the verse. Developing a chanting cadence or rhythm to the words are very helpful.
6. When you memorize a new verse, memorize the chapter and verse as well. For instance, if memorizing 1 Peter 1:1, say “One one Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, …” When memorizing 1 Peter 1:2, say “One two according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” When memorizing 1 Peter 2:24, say, “Two twenty-four and He Himself bore …” You may not like the practice, but believe me, it is well worth your while. It will keep you on track when reciting larger passages and it will help you recall individual verses in the future.
7. Before learning a new verse, review your older verses first. In fact, begin with the verse(s) you memorized yesterday. Then, review the verse(s) you learned the day before. It does no good to learn something new if you can’t recall what you learned before.
8. Short, frequent sessions work better than long, infrequent sessions. Your brain works even when you don’t. What is difficult today will come easily tomorrow after your brain has been working on it for 24 hours.
9. Redeem the small moments of time that you have to work on review. You would be surprised at all of the little moments that you have in your day when you can review the memory verses you have learned.
10. Consider memorizing each verse to be a bit like rolling a ball up a hill. At first, the hill is very steep and you need lots of work to get the ball up the hill. But, after a little bit, the hill isn’t so steep and the effort required to keep the ball rolling isn’t so much. Some time later, you will find that the hill is almost flat, which requires very little effort.
11. Read Dr. Andrew Davis’ excellent little booklet entitled, “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.” This little booklet has been of immense help to me. You can find it here. Dr. Davis is the senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

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