Memorizing Bible verses is an important way to get God’s Word inside our hearts so that it can transform us. The psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). As we intentionally make God’s Word an integral part of our thoughts, we begin to see sin the way God does. But memorizing can be difficult for many people. Even so, there are a few techniques that may help make it easier. The following are some tips to encourage the memorization of God’s Word:
1. Read the entire chapter in one sitting over and over again. Memorization is easier when we understand the context. Many verses are part of a bigger idea, and, by understanding that idea, isolated verses make more sense. By reading an entire passage, we may decide to include a verse or two before or after the selected scripture to make a more complete thought. Reading the whole passage many times makes it more familiar, and we find it easier to memorize that which is familiar.
2. Handwrite the selected verses on notecards, and take them with you. By working on the verses a little at a time throughout the day, we are also keeping God’s truth foremost in our minds. By writing only a few words of the verse on each card, we gain a sense of accomplishment when we master a card. Breaking up the verse also makes it feel more manageable.
3. Find a memory buddy. Memorizing with a friend helps keep us accountable and motivated. If the friend gets ahead, natural competitiveness kicks in, and we want to keep up. Having someone sharing our memorization journey also gives us opportunities to exchange thoughts about what the verse means to us and how God wants us to apply it. In doing so, we do more than simply repeat words in order. We allow the truth of them to go deeper where they take root and bear fruit.
4. Incorporate meditation as part of the memorization (Psalm 1:1–2). Meditation is deep and focused thinking about the personalized application of a specific truth. The Bible encourages us to meditate on the Word: “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (Psalm 119:15). When we meditate on the meaning of a particular passage and consider what it means to our lives, we go further than simply memorizing. We are obeying Jesus’ command to abide in Him and allow His words to abide in us (John 15:7). Memorizing and meditating on Bible verses is a good way to abide in God’s Word.
5. Read and recite the verse aloud. Or sing it. As we see it, say it, and hear it, we are using a variety of our senses and helping our brain store the information. The more “actively” we participate in the learning of a Bible verse, the more distinct that verse becomes in our long-term memory, and thus the more memorable it becomes. This is also why using hand motions can often help a child learn a song or memorize a Bible verse.
6. For those with artistic flair, illustrating a Bible verse is a good way to memorize it. Reducing the words to drawings or symbols requires a different part of the brain and may help cement the ideas in lasting ways. Illustrations also help children memorize. Encouraging children to draw their own pictures helps them personalize the verses and learn to meditate on God’s Word.
When we have memorized significant portions of Scripture, God uses it to speak to us. For example, if we are praying about a decision, in the midst of our prayer a verse memorized long ago may float unbidden into our minds. We weren’t trying to think of a verse, and the one brought to mind isn’t always the one we would have chosen for an answer. But, because we are abiding in His Word, the Lord is free to use it to answer our questions.
We can also incorporate memorized verses into our own prayers and pray them back to God. In that way, we have the assurance that we are praying in His will (1 John 5:14). When we have worked to memorize passages of Scripture, they naturally weave their truths into our prayers, correct us when we are praying wrongly, and reflect what our hearts are trying to say (Romans 8:27). When we are committed to hiding God’s Word in our hearts, He will bless our efforts and use those verses to help us grow (1 Peter 2:2).