Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture is a good way to hide it in your heart (Ps 119:11) and to meditate on it day and night (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2). It's also an effective weapon in combatting temptation (cf. Mt 4:1-11). And what if one day, as in other countries, the Bible is taken from us? Memorized Scripture will become a rich treasure.

If you are looking for a Scripture memory plan, I offer you mine as an example.

I use 3x5 note cards. On one side I write the verse to be memorized. On the other side I write the Scripture reference in the upper left-hand corner.

Three to four times a week (during my prayer time at the church), I pick up the stack of cards, reference side up, and work through a few of the cards. I read the reference, quote aloud the verse from memory, and flip the card and read the verse as it's written. Then I place it on the bottom of the stack, reference side down.

When I get through the stack--and I know that when I come to a card that is reference side down instead of reference side up--I shuffle the cards for the next run-through.

At the top of the stack every day are the new verses I'm learning and the verses I misquoted when I last had the stack in my hands.

Each time I finish working through the stack, I add 2-3 new verse cards. They always stay on top of the stack, as well as the 2-3 verse cards I added last time. Just under these cards are the verses I misquoted last time.

So here's the "order of events" when I work through my cards:

  • Quote new cards (usually 5-6) and set them to the side
  • Quote misquoted old cards from last time (hopefully none; sometimes as many as 5)
  • Quote several old cards (cards quoted correctly go on the bottom of the stack; cards misquoted are set aside)
  • Quote misquoted cards from this go-around and place them on top of the stack
  • Quote new cards again and place them on top of the stack

What Verses to Select
The fun is in picking out verses to memorize. I have selected verses for a whole host of reasons.

--Select verses to help you combat particular temptations. (I memorized Mt 6:25-34 to help combat anxiety and Prov 14:29 to combat anger.)

--Select verses that you think you should know. (Recent examples for me include 2 Cor 5:21 and Acts 4:12.)

--Memorize whole chapters, 3 verses at a time. (For me Ps 33, Ps 103, and Heb 11)

--Memorize verses that strike you during a sermon or your devotional time. (This is how I've selected many of them, like my newest 3: Dt 8:2; Jn 21:18-19; Rom 14:17.)

--Memorize verses that are formative to your thinking about some aspect of theology. (For me, Eph 5:18 and Jn 7:37-39 for my thinking on the filling of the Holy Spirit, and Rom 6:8-13 for my understanding of our relationship to sin as Christians)

--Memorize verses that encourage you. (Lam 3:21-23 has ministered to me countless times.)

--Select passages that you find beautiful. (2 Sam 1:17-27, to me, is a beautiful lament and eulogy to Saul and Jonathan.)

--Memorize passages that help aim your life in the way it should be aimed. (Ps 27:4)

--Select passages that give you perspective when times get tough. (Mt 5:11-12; Rev 2:10; Acts 5:41)

--Memorize Scriptures that are just fun to know. (1 Kings 20:11; Jud 14:18)


Kent said...

Good post!

Anonymous said...



Dear Kent,
The late Dr. William Forest Weddle always felt that familiarization with the Bible was best gained by utilizing cross referencing center-column or marginally-printed reference Bibles. "Pretty soon," Dr. Weddle said, "you wont have to look a verse up; because you'll already know what it says." Memorizing specific verses, chapters and/or even whole books is extremely advantageous, as both Christians and people in the Jewish faiths do. I think I remembered reading once that Billy Graham's family had a Bible verse around the breakfast table each day. I do know Dr. Graham made it a habit of reading 5 chapters of Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs every day after he became a Christian. I have done that myself, especially the 5 chapters of Psalms part of it. As a very young man, I read through all of Proverbs much. God helped me so much through this. When I first started reading Scripture, I would only read the words of Jesus in red letters. (I was only interested in what God had to say.) I learned later that in Scripture He said a lot more too. In recent years I have pressed to become more completely familiar with the entire Bible. Therefore, throughout the recent years, I have pressed to read 5 chapters of the Bible itself in order without fail each day. They say if you read 4 chapters of the Bible of the Bible each day without fail you will get through it in one year. I try to make sure of that. (I do often sense the Spirit's presence, while reading those 5 chapters.)
We have help from God on Bible memorization, Kent...
John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
AND there is obvious evidence of it early on in New Testament times, what with the Church's first martyr, Stephen in Acts 6:9 & 10. Yet, truly, if one is to have the Holy Spirit Himself to call Scripture to his remembrance, he must first know the Scriptures in order to have it recalled. --Dad