Blog, Spiritual disciplines

Scripture memory? Too hard…

One of the spiritual disciplines I feel like is hardest to sustain is memorizing Scripture. Not many people do it, so it’s hard to find accountability. It’s difficult- you have to engage your mind in doing something that gets more challenging each year. It can also be discouraging- you can’t remember the verses even a week after you memorized them. It’s overwhelming- trying to pick a way to memorize, what verses to do, and trying to review everything you’ve already learned. So hopefully this will help re-energize you to pick up memorizing and try it again.

First, there are so many benefits to memorizing Scripture! It can help keep you from sin.(Psalm 119:11) It gives substance for the Holy Spirit to bring up when you’re tempted. It can also help you share the gospel or answer objections to your faith others might have. It can offer encouragement when you’re down and help you set your mind on heavenly things.

One of the most helpful benefits to me is the way it encourages me to meditate on the Bible. If I’m memorizing a verse, I have to think about what it says. I make observations about the verse that I wouldn’t normally make and pick the verse apart. For example, when I was memorizing the first chapter of Ephesians, there were a few huge run-on sentences! The only way to remember the order of the phrases was to meditate on them. Why was it in that order? How did it flow together? To learn it I really had to engage my mind. And that’s a huge part of the reason I work to memorize. I want to love the Lord with my mind.

So how do you memorize? There are several methods to pick from. One is to use index cards. You write the reference and maybe a key word to jog your memory on one side and write the reference and full verse on the other. You can put them in a “verse pack” or use a ring and hole punch the cards. Then you can review them easily. When using this method, I memorize by phrases. I start and say the first phrase over and over until I can say it by memory. Then I add another phrase and repeat until I know both phrases. I continue until the verse is memorized. This may take a few days and that’s ok. This method was helpful in college, when I memorized verses as I walked around campus.

Another method is one my husband uses. He keeps a list of the verses and just reads them once through every day for seven weeks. (He has checkboxes.) After that, he has the verse memorized. He adds one new verse to the list a week. After each verse is memorized, he reviews them once a week for seven months, then once a month for seven years. So I guess you could call this the “Sevens” way to memorize.

The most recent way I’ve been memorizing Scripture is using an app. There are several out there like Fighter Verses, but my favorite one is called “Bible Memory.” It lets you just type in the first letter of each word of the verse and checks to see if you’re correct. I like this app because it automatically tells you when you need to review a verse and you can change the settings. It has sets of verses you can memorize or you can add your own. It does cost for some extended features, but you can try it for free.

How do you find the verses to memorize? You can google it. Several apps and websites have lists of key verses you should start with. I’d recommend starting with those and adding some of your own. I have a list of key verses I use, but I also pick some of my own. If I come across a verse in my quiet time or a sermon that really encourages me or I just think is cool, I put it on my list. If I’m struggling with a sin, I look up a verse to memorize that could help me. I have also memorized verses that help me share the gospel or answer specific questions someone may have about my faith.

The bottom line is this: I want to be a godly person. I want to be thinking about Scripture constantly. I want that to be what comes to my mind when I’m alone. I want to speak the Bible. I want it to roll off my tongue naturally, like it’s my second language. I want it to change me. So to me, the effort it takes to memorize it, even if I don’t always remember everything I’ve ever worked on, it’s worth it. So why not pick a verse today and start hiding God’s Word in your heart?

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