It’s been a while since I posted about how to memorize scripture and I figured it was time for a progress update.
When I was listening to the radio on Aug. 15, 2015 one of the guests referenced 2 Chronicles 7:14. He did not quote the verse but it popped into my head because I have been reading it every day. It reads: “and [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”1
While automatically being able to recall this verse is great, it gets better… During the course of a normal day, I will have Bible verses run through my mind. They are often triggered by something someone says, by an event, or even the headline news. I am not trying to remember the verses! They come to mind, no doubt, by the working of the Holy Spirit.
I’m trying to memorize about 50 verses currently. I would estimate I have about one third completely memorized, like Genesis 1:1 (yes, an easy verse), but others are taking longer. The totally memorized verses I pretty much skip and only read them about once a week to refresh. One set of verses in particular, Ephesians 1:18-20, is taking a long time. Since these verses were not “sticking” in my mind even after reading them for several weeks I went back and looked at the verses and decided to pare the verses down to 18 and 19. I am now making progress on these verses.
At first, I’d pretty much decided to only use the Scripture Typer app. This free app does everything I need, and it’s easy to use. However, I found out there is a 50 verse limit for the free version. So I ended up switching to the Remember Me app instead. When I initially picked these two apps, I mainly looked at the ratings and a few reviews. If you like other apps, please comment below or send me an email explaining why. I might change apps if you have found a better one.
I have a few new observations about this process:
1) As mentioned above, a single verses is much easier to commit to memory than multiple verses. But this may not be true for everyone. Some of my problems may be the translation I am using (Holman Christian Standard Version) because the translators tried to be literal and concise in their rendering of the Greek and Hebrew languages. The Scripture Typer offers to break up several verses for you, this was helpful for the Eph. 1:17-20 verses.
2) Memorization is helped, but not essential, when you know the context of the verse. For example, Ruth 1:14 is a lengthy one line verse, but it seemed easier than others because I know the context of the verse, and other related topics regarding the book of Ruth (such as the concept of Kinsman Redeemer and Jewish culture regarding widows). You can learn context by studying the book with the aid of a commentary or bible dictionary. A great website for self study is Blue Letter Bible, it has tons of free resources including video and audio commentary.
3) When learning about a new topic, your memorized verses will help inform you about the topics or direct you to a related areas of Scripture. This make the Bible richer in all ways and this will get better the more verses you know. Another way to think of this is like a system of highways, the more verses you know the more “roads” there are between ideas. You’ll get a fuller picture of the topic or concept.
4) Don’t be legalistic about your memorization. Perhaps I don’t need to say this but, while I have been studying Galatians, I realize how easy it is for humans to make rules out of anything. I’m not (and you’re not) better than anyone else because we are memorizing Bible verses. We should not “look down our noses” because we know so much Scripture. Rather, this is about deepening our love and relationship with Jesus so He can flow out of us like a river of living water.
5) Perhaps most importantly, your relationship with God deepens. I know I sound like broken record, this is a very important concept: The Bible is the mind of Christ. It is easier to have a conversation with Him when you know more about Him.
What I mean by this is? Well it’s easier to have a conversation with a close friend than a total stranger. With a stranger, more than likely you’ll talk about general topics, like the weather. Whereas, with a close friend, you can share deep problems and great joy much more easily, openly and deeply. The more you know the Bible the better you know Jesus Christ, and the more you will be conformed to his image (Rom. 8:29 and 12:2).
If you have had great, surprising, or even frustrating experiences memorizing Scripture. Please share. I would enjoy knowing about them.
1 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (2 Ch 7:14). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.