“On Your Heart”, Part 2: 7 Tricks and Tips to Memorize Scripture

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this three-part series, you can check it out here. Are you convinced yet that memorizing Scripture is important for every Christian? As I said in Part 1, it’s not so we can check it off a holy to-do list, but because of the medium Scripture provides for the Holy Spirit to guide us, day by day.

Maybe you are sold that memorizing God’s Word is important, but you’re wondering where to begin. How does someone memorize Scripture, just read it over and over? Here in Part 2 of the series, I’m going to give you a few tips and strategies on how to memorize Bible verses.

Bible

First, let’s get a few technicalities out of the way. Before you start memorizing, I think it’s important for you to define what “memorization” means to you. Do you consider a Bible verse as “memorized” if you can write it all out? Or maybe write it out with a few of the filler words given (like, “a,” “an”, “the”)? Or should you be able to say it out loud, off the top of your head? Do you need to get every single word right, or is it okay if you say “disciple” instead of “disciples”? Or what if you forget the word “therefore” at the beginning of a sentence?

I know it all sounds technical, but it’s important for you to have a clear understanding of your goal, so that you know what success looks like for you. Success may look different for everyone, but I’d say that for Scripture to have an impact on us, we should be able to say it out loud, even if we get a few of the words wrong on occasion. We should aim to get all of the major words right 100% of the time, but if we accidentally say “a” instead of “the”, etc, we don’t have to sweat it.

In my opinion, being able to say Bible verses out loud is better than just writing them. As you’ll see below, I do think that being able to write out Scripture is an important way to memorize, but I think that the best way to tell if Scripture is “on your heart” is if you can speak it. From what I’ve experienced, when you can speak Scripture you can usually always write it out. However, being able to write it doesn’t mean you can also say it.

Now that we’ve gotten those knitty-gritty details out of the way, here is my list of tips and tricks to memorize the Bible!


First Method: Memorizing by Writing

Personally, writing out Bible verses is how I always begin with memorization. For me, once I get a grasp on the flow of the verses through writing, it is easier for me to start saying it out loud. I will start with writing it out and then move to speaking it as I’m writing it. Here are a couple tricks to writing Scripture.

pencil-paper

Trick 1: Erase words as you go

This is easiest if you have something like a chalkboard or whiteboard where you can easily erase words. To do this method, first write out the entire verse or passage you want to memorize. Read it over a few times, saying it out loud as you read. Then erase a few of the major words. Now go through it again, filling in those blanks with the correct word. Erase more major words. Keep erasing and keep writing the missing words in, while saying it out loud. Eventually you will be left with only the little words like “and” or “the”. You may even erase these little words!

Trick 2: Fill-in-the-blank worksheet

This is very similar to trick 1, but doesn’t require a chalkboard or whiteboard. After you’ve read through your verse or passage several times, create a fill-in-the-blank worksheet for yourself. You can do this on the computer or write it out by hand. Write out the Scripture, creating a blank for all the major words, leaving the small words like prepositions or contractions. Before you start filling it out, make copies! Or, just speak it, saying the missing words out loud.

Eventually you will get to a point where you could write it all out off the top of your head! But don’t stop here, be sure to take it to the next step: saying it out loud.

Second Method: Memorizing by Speaking

Like I said before, I think that the best way to evaluate if a Bible verse is memorized is if we can speak it out loud. But it can be hard to start with speaking it until we get a handle on the verse (done by writing it). Once you are familiar with the verse, now is the time to start speaking it! There is only one trick to this: speak! Say it over and over again. But here are a few tips to help you.

Tip 1: Be active while you’re memorizing

Walk around or jog while you memorize. Or even do something as simple as chew gum. Studies have shown that moving while you memorize helps you memorize faster. This is because you are using both sides of your brain at once!

walk

Tip 2: Act out what you are memorizing

You might feel a little silly doing this, but it can help you immensely! Make up gestures and actions that go with the words you are memorizing. Similar to tip #1, it will cause you to use both sides of your brain, and the actions will help you remember the key phrases.

Tip 3: Draw or imagine a picture of the verse

Create a picture of the scene or some kind of representation of the concept of the verse. The Scripture will cease to be just a string of words, but will seem more tangible. Envisioning the picture will help you recall the words.

Tip 4: Try the buddy system

If you have a friend who also wants to memorize Scripture, try memorizing together! Get together for a memorization date and try saying the verse back-and-forth, each of you saying only one word at a time. This is tough, but fun!

friends coffee

Not all tricks or tips will work for everyone. We all learn differently, which means we all memorize differently. Don’t be afraid of trying out some new methods to find out what works for you. If one trick doesn’t work, move on to another. Remember the old phrase: if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Find what works best for you, and don’t feel discouraged if memorization doesn’t come easy at first. It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it!

Here’s one last tip: make it visible

Keep the Scripture that you are memorizing somewhere you will see it often. Write it on your mirror. Put it on flash cards that you tape up around the house or in your car. Keep it visible and handy. The more often you see it, the more it will be on your mind, and the faster you’ll commit it to memory!


I hope these tricks and tips have inspired you to embark on a journey to hide Scripture in your heart! Be sure to comment and let me know of some of the tips you have used to memorize. And be on the lookout for Part 3 of this series, where I’ll give you an idea list of Bible verses to memorize.

“On Your Heart”, Part 1: Why Memorize Scripture?

As you may have read in my goals post for this month, I want to have Romans 1 memorized by the end of March.

I think in general, most people would agree, “it’s good to memorize Scripture.” But if we all agree to this, why don’t we do it?

Bible

Can I suggest that maybe the reason we don’t is because we have turned Scripture memorization into an item on a checklist of righteousness without ever actually considering what the Bible, itself, has to say about it? So let’s take a step back look at three passages that speak about Scripture memorization.

Deut 6:1-9

The lesson from this passage is pretty straight-forward. God instructs us to memorize his Word.

Here in Deuteronomy, God has just given the Israelites his commands. From this passage we learn that God gives us his Word to teach us how to live in a way that is holy and pleases him. God wants us to obey his teachings for our own good and well-being. He affirms that following his instruction manual isn’t a way to drag us down but to give us life to the fullest. But simply knowing of his commands isn’t enough; the way to actually carry them out is by memorizing them.

God wants his commands to “be on your hearts.” He says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (6:6-9)

God, himself, tells us that we should memorize his Word! He knows that the best way to truly follow his Word is to have it stamped on our hearts.

Psalm 119

If you need a reminder of how precious God’s Word is, head on over to Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible, this Psalm is actually a giant acrostic poem of 176 verses all about one thing: the value of Scripture.

(Truly, if you ever wonder why it’s important to know and read the Bible, I challenge you to read this Psalm and write down all the benefits of Scripture you find!)

I’m just going to focus on one verse for today, verse 11. It says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

This Psalm teaches us that memorizing Scripture is our way to obey God/combat sin.

Matthew 4:1-11

If you still aren’t convinced of this, let’s look at an actual example from the Bible of how Scripture memorization helped to keep one man from sinning.

Our example comes from Christ, himself: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Satan tempts Jesus three times in the desert. Every time Satan tempts Jesus, Jesus refutes his offer with God’s Word.

I think it’s interesting to note that when Jesus was tempted in the desert, he didn’t rely on his own willpower. What kept Jesus from sinning was the Scripture that was hidden in his heart.

What sin are you struggling with right now? Do you ever think, “I should just be strong enough to resist the temptation.” Or, “I just have to have more willpower next time.” Have you ever considered that if Jesus, Himself – our Savior, the Author and Perfecter of our faith –  didn’t rely on “willpower” to keep from sinning when he was tempted, then maybe we shouldn’t either?

Bible 2

After considering these passages, I think the Bible is very clear that memorizing Scripture is a crucial way to sustain a holy life in the midst of the temptations we face every day.

How does Scripture actually help us in our day to day lives? Through the Holy Spirit, who “guides us in all truth” (John 16:13). When we do our own part to impress his Word on our hearts, the Holy Spirit will bring those Scriptures to mind at just the right time. When we are faced with temptation, He gently nudges us with God’s Word at the pivotal moment. Every Scripture we memorize primes us to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives.

At this point you might be thinking, “I get this whole Scripture memorization thing theologically, but how can this practically work in my life?” We have doubts that it’s realistically possible in our hectic and over-scheduled lives.

Some common reasonings are

  1. We aren’t good at memorizing Scripture
  2. We’re too old to memorize things anymore
  3. We don’t have the time to
  4. It just sounds like a lot of work!

If you truly believe that what the Bible says about Scripture memorization is true, then don’t let discouraging thoughts hinder you from following through.  If you believe that you aren’t good at memorization, it may just be because you haven’t tried the right method for you. That is why in Part 2, I will be offering some tips and techniques for you to try.

Don’t be discouraged because of your age. Anyone can memorize Scripture, no matter what age. Older people can learn whole new languages, it just takes a little hard work. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside for memorizing, then I think you just have to be honest and ask yourself, “Is this something that is truly important to me? Do I truly think that God is nudging me to memorize His Word?” If it is meaningful to you, then it’s worth carving time out for. Look at your schedule to find just one activity you could cut out. Then pencil in even just 10-15 minutes a day or a couple nights a week to memory work.

For those who are hesitant to try memorizing Scripture because they think it will be hard, all I can say is, yes it will be! But if what the Bible says is true – that Scripture memorization is crucial for us to live in step with God’s direction – how can we afford not to put in the work?

So, are you convinced yet? If you are still unsure where to start with Scripture memorization, be sure to look for Part 2, all about tips and techniques for memorizing. Together, let’s live an intentional life, starting with embedding God’s Truth in our hearts.