It always makes me so sad when I hear someone say that they aren’t capable of memorizing scripture.  God has given us clear principles throughout scripture that urge us to memorize His Word.  God would not expect us to do something that He has not equipped us to do.  If you know Jesus, then you absolutely can read, study, memorize, and yes, even understand the scriptures. 

I began memorizing scripture when I was 5 years old.  We memorized in school, and in AWANA at church.  The older I got, the more scripture I memorized.  In youth group, 7-12 grade, we had a total of 40 verse cards to memorize.  Each card would have anywhere from 1-5 verses on it.  If we memorized all the verses, did our quiet time every day, attended youth group faithfully, read 5 Christian books and completed a bunch of Christian services, and passed a scripture memory test at the end of the year, then we got a huge scholarship to go to camp in New York every summer.  Each year, you had to do review tests of all the past years in addition to the current test.  Since there was no way I could pay to go to camp, I was highly motivated to work hard and earn that scholarship.  So, I learned how to memorize scripture for the long-term and it paid off!  While I was definitely excited about being able to attend youth camp, I also recognized that all this scripture memory, along with the quiet times and Bible study was building a firm foundation of faith in my life.  This foundation not only gave me the right focus on my hardships growing up, but also prepared me for the hardships to come in my adult life. 

Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  If you want to live a life of obedience to God (which you should), then it’s important that you know His Word.  Knowing the Bible helps you discern the lies that surround our culture.  If we don’t know the Bible, we will fall very quickly for false spirituality and empty philosophy.  Our world is full of ideals that sound good on the surface, but at their core are completely anti-scripture.  The only way to be prepared, and stand on a firm foundation is to read, study, apply, and memorize God’s Word. 

I have learned many different methods on how to memorize, but there is one that is my regular go-to.  I hope that it helps you as you begin or continue to memorize the Word of God.

Here are the steps I use to memorize scripture:

  1.  Read the passage multiple times.
  2. If it’s a larger passage, such as a chapter or book, I break it into smaller sections of a few verses at a time.
  3. Now I re-read just the first section, repeating it over and over again until it becomes familiar.  I write out the section I am currently memorizing onto a 3×5 card and put it somewhere that I will see it every day.
  4. The next step is to write out the first letter of each word in a notebook.  Then, I use only those letters to review the section. See the illustration below to understand this step better.
  5. Once I can quote that entire section from memory, I move on to the next section, adding it to my review book. 

Here is an example for you.  I am currently working on memorizing the book of 1 Peter.  I grew up doing all my scripture memory in the old King James, and have also done a lot of memory from the NKJV and NASB.  I chose to memorize 1 Peter from the NLT this time just to change it up a bit.  Using multiple translations when you read really helps you gain a better understanding of the text because it requires your brain to slow down and step out of the “familiar” that you’ve always heard.  I am hoping that the same concept applies to scripture memory.  Here’s the steps again applied to 1 Peter.

  1.  I read the entire book of 1 Peter several times in a row.
  2. Then, I broke it down into small sections.  I’ll use the first section for this example, I Peter 1:1-2.  “This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.  I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy.  As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.”
  3. I read it over and over, and put it on a 3×5 card on my desk where I do my quiet time in the morning.
  4. This is the step that really helps make sure I have it committed to memory.  I write out just the first letter of each word in a notebook.  It looks like this:

T L I F P, A A O J C. I A W T G C P W A L A F I T P O P, G, C, A, A B. G T F K Y A C Y L A, A H S H M Y H. A A R, Y H O H A H B C B T B O J C. M G G Y M A M G A P.

5. Now I move on to the second section, I Peter 1:3-5 and follow these steps again.

This is, of course, just one of many methods of memorizing scripture. If you do not memorize scripture on a regular basis, I encourage you to start!  If you have a specific sin that you struggle with, memorize verses that address that sin or ones that will encourage obedience.  Another great place to start is memorize one verse a day(or week) from Proverbs.  Once you really get going on scripture memory, take on memorizing an entire book.  Whatever it is, just start somewhere. The important thing is not HOW you memorize, but THAT you memorize.

I’d love to hear from you!  Let me know if you try this method and how it works out for you.  If you have other ideas on how to memorize scripture, put it in the comments below.