How to Start Memorizing Scripture: Tips, Techniques, & Resources

Anastasis Faith
We’re not just talking about memorizing John 3:16 here. Remember my friend Dani who has memorized entire books of the Bible? I’ve been slowly plugging through Psalm 119—and she’s already memorized the entire thing plus so much more.

We are excited to have Dani back on the blog from last week! To read WHY Scripture memory is absolutely critical to your walk with Christ, read this post. In that post, I asked the question, “When we can just google any verse, what is the importance of memorizing it?” She had a fabulous answer that you should read if you haven't already.

Today we’re going to talk about HOW to memorize Scripture and this is coming from someone who is a pro at Scripture memory.
Dani, we are so happy to have you back with us on the blog! My next question is this: what advice do you have for someone who WANTS to memorize verses, but never seems to actually DO it?

 Oh, that depends SO much on personality! But here are my tips.
1. Incentives
Use incentives that you would use for other things you want motivation for. When my youngest sister was starting really intense memorizing, my other sister would light a candle when she was diligently studying. When the candle was burned down to the bottom, they had a tea party.
2. Competition
To anyone who knows me much, I’ll probably sound like the broken record of a commercial, but I’m going to say it again. Competition, I once heard Brett Harris say, is God’s way of tricking us into doing our best. And the competition I’ve found to be helpful is the National Bible Bee. The Bible Bee consists of a summer competition, where you study a book of the Bible with a study guide, and memorize usually 14 passages, around 60 verses total. At the end of the summer, you can take a test, though you don’t have to. The top 120 kids per age group across the nation advance to Nationals, and that’s where it gets rough. They memorize between 600-900 verses (depending on their age group) and study a book of the Bible on their own. If this does pique your interest, you can check it out here. Registration is currently open through the end of May. You can also watch the National Bible Bee Game Show at ChristianCinema.tv. The episodes are available for playback through the link for a week after airing. (I’m in the episode that aired on April 11!)
3. Accountability
Have someone to keep you accountable. Last year, as I studied for Bible Bee Nationals, I finally had consistent accountability partners, and I found that sooooo helpful! Having to tell someone you didn’t do the amount of work you could have done is embarrassing! And quoting passages to someone and constantly messing up and not getting better is also quite embarrassing. So find someone who can help you stick to your goals!

What have you found to be the most helpful and effective ways to memorize verses?
1. Music
My number one top tip is music. Setting verses to music is several times more effective for me than anything else. There are several artists on YouTube and online that set verses to music, but eventually, you’ll probably have to start making up your own. Don’t worry if you’re not ‘musical’. If you can carry a tune (aaaand maybe even if you can’t…), you can put verses to music. My mom mostly uses tunes from the hymnal or psalter. Another mom from our local Bible Bee would carry a recorder with her, and if a tune popped into her head, she’d hum it – or sing the words if that’s how she thought of it. Then start listening to your verses at times when you’d normally listen to something less valuable.
2. Rote Memory
The main way I pound verses into my head is rote memory – reading and repeating a phrase at a time until you can say it multiple times without looking, and then adding another phrase. This is gritty work, but very effective for just about anyone, whether auditory or visual learners.
3. Erase-a-word

Erase-a-word is a fun technique that we usually do with at least one passage each summer with our local Bible Bee. You write the whole passage out on the whiteboard, read it, erase a couple of words, read it again, erase a couple more words, and so on and so forth. When you have it all down without any of the words on the board, you line up and take turns writing it up a word at a time!
4. Loci Method
Another method that I just started using (after being told about it by fellow Bible Bee-ers for many years) is called the Loci method. This is for hardcore memorizers, and waaay too complicated to describe here. It’s used for all sorts of memorization, and is the technique used by memory performers.
5. Other options
Other techniques are quite useful, such as drawing out the passage, word mapping, writing the passage out over and over again, and so many other that are out there to discover! Don’t limit yourself to one or two techniques, but vary it! That way, it will help passages to stay distinct in your head.

Where should I start memorizing?

That really depends on preference. As I find the Psalms easy to memorize, I would recommend starting there. Find a few short chapters you like and work on memorizing them. But if you don’t find them easy, go searching! Is there a passage that you already love to read, and are familiar with? That would be a great place to start. Preferably, work on something with simple wording and rhythm.

Wherever you start memorizing, I highly encourage you to work on full passages. That way, you will get the context, you’ll know what the passage is talking about as you meditate on it throughout the day, and you will stretch your mind gently without confusing it by hopping around.
So this is what I would recommend:
1. Psalms
2. Start short and simple
3. Find something familiar
4. Full passage

Anything else you would like to share?

1. Use one translation
Please, please, please, when you start memorizing, pick a version and stick to it. Please don’t jump around between versions. It makes it so much more confusing! Just trust me on this one! I still haven’t gotten some passages switched fully from NIV, which I used until I was about six, to NKJV, which I’ve used since. It will stick, and it will confuse you!
2. Make Scripture memory a priority

Don’t think you have time to memorize? Try again! Make it a priority! For all the reasons listed above, it should be your number one priority! My advice is to print out passages on cards, in large letters (12 or 14 pt.). Carry those with you everywhere. Whenever you have a little moment of spare time, pull them out and work on them! One time of day that I often have some time is while washing dishes or cooking. I spread my cards out on the windowsill or counter and memorize as I work.
3. Make Scripture memory a deliberate goal
Make memorization of God’s word a deliberate goal. Set aside time each day, both for reading Scripture and memorizing it. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you longer than you want – with time and diligent practice, you will get much faster at memorizing.
4. Review
Memorizing isn’t much good if you don’t retain it, however. You’ve got to review what you memorize! Eventually, the more you review a passage, the longer you will retain it, and the less you’ll have to review it. Memverse.com is a website that uses this concept really well! Another useful website is ScriptureTyper.com. The best review method, though, is reciting out loud to another person. Alternatively, you can record yourself and then compare it to the passage during playback, which helps you track where your mistakes are. When you memorize, your brain is literally building new neural pathways, and review will help those become stronger and not simply decay. 
5. Mix it up

If you find yourself having a difficult time concentrating or getting passages to stick after a while, break it up! Go somewhere where you don’t normally memorize or try a new technique.

6. Enjoy it!
Above all, enjoy it! Memorizing Scripture is not something that should feel like a chore (if it feels like a chore, but you’re still sticking to it, I applaud you! It will get better!). We have the privilege of putting God’s spoken Word into our minds. Not everyone gets that opportunity. Savor it while you can, treasure it up while you are still young and able to take in such large amounts of information! And don’t get so bogged down in the act of memorizing that you forget to look to the One who gave it to you. Let it point you to a deeper understanding and love for your Father who gave you life!
 
Dani is an Alaskan MK who loves the Lord with all her heart. A large part of her childhood has been spent competitively memorizing Scripture through the National Bible Bee. She has seen the immense blessing of the Lord in her life through it, and wants to share that blessing with others in whatever way possible. In her spare time, she does school, learns languages, and practices piano, violin, viola, or various other instruments. She also heads up a team of girls that publish A Hoe In My Hand magazine


Thanks so much for joining us, Dani! So much insight and practicality in this post! 


Okay girls, let's chat. What passage are you memorizing right now? (You should get one if you don't already have one!) What tips do you plan on implementing? Do you have any tips, techniques, or resources to add? Share in the comments!

Anastasis Faith / Author & Editor

Anastasis is a Texas girl who enjoys writing, blogging, and music. You can connect with her here on her blog, or at morningglorypursuingjesus @yahoo.com

9 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Dani! My family is working on memorizing Philippians, which has been really fun to do together. Hearing other people say the passage can be really useful. 😀

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    1. Praise the Lord that it encouraged you, Katherine! Philippians is a really enjoyable book to memorize. :) Have you used the 'first-letter' method? That's what our family uses when memorizing books.

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  2. These are great tips, Dani! Glad you finally got converted to loci, haha. And yes, to memorizing full passages! Sometimes it's hard when parts of it seem boring, without deep theological insights, but they deepen your understanding of the entire thing! Thank you for being such a great example and encouragement to all of us!

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words! Yeah, I'm glad I got converted, too. :D

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  3. Thank you so much for your tips and advice, Dani! This was very helpful.

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    1. You're more qualified than me to write this, Anna! I've learned a lot of techniques and study tips from you! :D

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  4. Thank you so much for these tips! I am really inspired to try and memorize more scripture. Are there any specific passages you recommend? Also, how do you memorize all of, say, Phillipians? Verse by verse? Are there any methods?

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    1. Hi, Abigail, I would recommend starting with familiar passages. Psalm 1 is a great place to start. When I started memorizing chapters/books, I was going through verse by verse. The difficult part with such long passages is review. One technique that my family has found very effective is printing out the passage using just the first letter of each word. That first letter gives a little 'jump-start' to allow you to recall the word. This website will do the conversion for you: http://www.productivity501.com/how-to-memorize-verbatim-text/. Lately, more of my books that I've memorized have been simply by absorption - for example, for John 1-15, I spend two years studying that portion, which included writing it out and listening to it. I have CDs (the Word of Promise CDs) that have somewhat dramatized the scripture, while still keeping it (almost) verbatim.

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  5. I know Bible memorization is important, but I still struggle to set aside time for it. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    https://tizziestidbits.wordpress.com/

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