Why on earth should I memorize Bible scriptures if I can just look it up?
Nearly all the information I could possibly want is at my fingertips–quite literally. Memorization seems an outmoded system in our all-access information age, but what would happen if we lost connection? How would we remember those valuable ancient words?
There is more to memorization of the scripture than simply committing the words to memory. Memorization is about storing God’s word in our heart. These words protect us from temptation, comfort us in trouble, and strengthen us in adversity.
For memorizing smaller passages, check out 5 Benefits of Memorizing Scripture (And 4 Ways to Do It). You don’t have to memorize long chapters or books to commit the word to your heart. Start small! Work toward verses on God’s promises first (like Hebrews 13.6 or 1 Peter 5.6-7). Memorizing smaller verses eventually leads to longer sections… and longer.. and longer.
For longer passages, our approach may need to be modified. For the remainder of 2018, I am working on memorizing the book of James. I will be using some of the methods in the post mentioned above, but I am implementing a modified approach for book memorization.
Here’s how to memorize a book or long passages:
#1: Begin at the End
In memorization, our habit is often to start with a word or two at the beginning, gradually adding to it until we get to the end. What often happens is we have a strong start that peters off as we reach the end, fumbling around with the last sentence or word.
For a longer passage like a chapter or a book, begin with the end. In the image below, I’ve inserted a screenshot of James 5.13-20 taken from BibleGateway.com. The first segment to memorize would be verses 19-20 (surrounded in orange). The second segment could be verses 17-18. It does not always need to be limited to two verses; the second segment could include verse 16 to make it a complete thought. Try to group my verses so it makes a complete sentence or thought. Each time you practice your segment, tack on the following section you have already memorized. Be sure to quote the book, chapter and verse of each segment as well.
Beginning at the end will help you have a stronger grasp of the chapter. By memorizing it in sections, you’ll be able to remember “where” the passage is found in the Bible.
#2: Listen Daily
Listen to an audio recording of the chapter each day. At the present, I am listening to James 5 once each day so I don’t fall behind on my regular bible reading. Listening provides a flow of thought and a somewhat musical inflection to emphasize ideas. Certain phrases may stick out by the way they are read, helping you to commit it to memory.
I remember my dad listening to a King James Version audio of James when I was younger. The reader’s inflection of “Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool” made such a distinct impression that I’ve never forgotten the scripture regarding the sin of partiality!
#3: Get an Accountability Partner (or enlist some little helpers!)
When I told my mom I wanted to memorize the book of James, she asked to join me. We have been quizzing each other about once a week on Skype with a section we are both working on. You accountability partner can be a parent, a friend, a mentor, or spouse. Maybe they will join you in the memorization effort or maybe they will just ask you how it’s going once a week. Having someone check your progress will motivate you to stay on track.
My children have a copy of my verses at the table and they quiz me at every meal. They often giggle over my missed words and have me start over to fix small omissions. My “little helpers” are unknowingly reaping their own benefits. By hearing these verses over and over, they will recall these passages to mind in bible class or in future situations. By seeing their parents work toward memorization, they will know we place value on the task of memorization and be encouraged to practice their memory work too!
Have you ever memorized a book or a chapter? How did you approach it?