Memorizing Scripture

The last time I remember actively memorizing scripture was in Awanas – which was early elementary school – so quite a long time ago. I noticed throughout my junior high/high school/college years that I had a knack for memorizing. I enjoyed writing flashcards and going through them countless times until I had them all memorized. I would memorize my high school/college speeches so I didn’t have to improvise when it felt like a billion eyes were staring at me. I knew I could trust my memory. While I say I had a knack for it, it still took countless hours of work to commit it to memory. Now that I think of it, maybe I didn’t have a knack for it, maybe instead I just worked super hard at it. Either way, it worked.

I was later exposed to memorizing scripture when my pastor would memorize and recite the scripture passage before he preached on it. I admired his dedication to always memorize the passage, no matter how long it was.

I started memorizing scripture in January 2017 as part of Beth Moore’s challenge in her Entrusted Bible Study series on 2 Timothy. I memorized 2 Timothy and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I have continued this practice and memorized the five chapters of James.

Memorizing books of the Bible does take patience, time, endurance, and lots of prayer. I have learned quite a bit along the way and thought I would share. Some of this took trial and error, but I found out what works for me and ultimately have come to learn the incredible value of memorizing scripture.

What Works for Me:

  1. Choose one translation and stick to it. This makes continual memorization much more fluid and consistent.
  2. Read the whole book first. This helps give me a sense of the book and the style of writing.
  3. Only do a few flashcards at a time. Instead of writing the entire chapter in one sitting, I write on flashcards only the verses I plan to memorize that day. I find it is helpful because it is fresh and has me interacting with the material right away.
  4. I personally am more alert and ready to learn in the morning. So I do my Bible study for 45 minutes to an hour then spend about half an hour on memory work.
  5. I do memory work Monday through Friday. Monday, I review everything I have memorized up until that point. I get scratch paper and write everything down from memory. Then I use my Holy Bible App to play the audio of the part I had written down. That way I can listen to the scripture and compare it to what I have written down. Then I go back and see the places I need to work on.
  6. I memorize a chapter a week. Which ends up being about 4-5 verses a day.
  7. I find that I memorize much better when I speak it out loud. I stand up and walk around our home with my flashcards and read them out loud, then recite them over and over until I have them down.
  8. Once I memorize the 4-5 verses of the day, I say a few verses before that passage, so I start to become familiar with the context around the passage. That way when I go back to recite the whole chapter or book, I know how it all flows.
  9. I recite it throughout my day if I am doing mind-less tasks – like taking Louie for a walk, doing laundry, or cleaning. In fact, these seemingly mind-less tasks challenge me to try reciting it with some distraction.
  10. Forgiving myself. I try to stick to this schedule, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I completely forget what I learned the day before and have to spend my time re-learning it. I’m not perfect at it. But ultimately, I don’t feel that God needs me to be perfect at it. I’m not doing this for the accomplishment. I do it because I want to learn and grow and know this is an area that challenges me to grow.
  11. I know my tendency to be legalistic and create rules and structure to strictly abide by. While the above points help me memorize, I use them not as rules, but as guidelines. Some days, I only memorize two verses, some days, I memorize ten. Some days I just review everything I know so far. Other days, I completely skip memory work.

What I Learned:

  1. It gets progressively easier – which seems counter-intuitive. The more I have memorized, the easier it is to memorize. I honestly don’t know how to explain this part.
  2. Lots of prayer. I get nervous to recite everything. I’m afraid that I will completely blank on the next portion of scripture- and I’m not even saying in front of anyone but my dog! I stop mid-sentence and say, “Holy Spirit, I can’t remember what comes next, please help me.”
  3. It helps me reference verses verbatim. Instead of, “That verse somewhere in 2 Timothy,” I can confidently say where it is and the context around it.
  4. I have a new understanding of the book and its’ author. By constantly reciting the verses, I notice trends from chapter to chapter and I am more aware of the context around verses. If I simply just breeze through the book, I am less aware of these trends or why the letter was written in a specific order.
  5. When I have trouble falling asleep at night, I start to repeat what I memorized. I find it calms me down and I usually never get through it all since I fall asleep in the middle. This happened so often that I started mixing up my starting spot, so I’m not constantly just reciting Chapter 1.
  6. I feel confident sharing the Gospel and keeping it intact when I have it memorized.
  7. It’s a conversation with God. All Scripture is inspired by God. It is His Word. He loves it when we repeat it back to Him. I’ve learned to look at memorizing as a conversation with Him. I enjoyed meditating on His word and seeing how He beautifully crafted the paragraphs and phrases to fall in relation to one another.

What’s Next:

  1. Keeping it memorized. Honestly, I think this is the greatest challenge.
  2. I encourage you to try. These tips worked for me, maybe they will work for you too. Start with a small book of the Bible. Make sure to study the book as you go, so that you learn along the way!

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5 thoughts on “Memorizing Scripture

  1. Scott Smith

    Insightful post, Megan. You were both talented and worked hard at memorizing Scripture when you were a child. At one time in my life, I had memorized James 1 and Philippians 1 but I couldn’t recite them now but maybe I could with a little practice.

    Also, there was a good device called Topical Memory System that organized Scripture around topics that I used in the car while driving. The other key for me was to pick just one version of the Bible and stay with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bible Study: Reflection on 2 Timothy – Hungry for Authenticity | Megan Johnson

  3. Pingback: 2 Timothy Memorized – Hungry for Authenticity | Megan Johnson

  4. Pingback: James Memorized – Hungry for Authenticity | Megan Johnson

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