The advantages of memorizing God’s word are many. The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee,” (Ps. 119:11). Being able to recall and recite applicable portions of Scripture is an effective safeguard against the temptations of Satan. Jesus effectively used this technique as he was tempted of the devil for 40 days, (Mt. 4:1ff). In the face of each of the recorded instances of temptation, representing the three major types of temptation, Jesus was able to recall and quote from memory a passage which addressed and refuted Satan’s call to sin.
If our Lord recognized the value in memorizing Scripture, so should we. One of the reasons many Christians struggle with temptation and fall away from the faith, is their failure to memorize and recall applicable passages from God’s word. They either refuse to call it to mind when needed, or they neglect to place it (“lay it up”) in their mind in the first place, or both.
Consider the following reasons why some Christians do not memorize the Bible as they should. Some are not convinced of the need to do so. But again, the example of our Lord should be sufficient to persuade us of the importance and urgency of scripture memorization. Others fail to memorize Scripture because they think they can’t do it. Somehow, despite ample evidence to the contrary, they have been persuaded that they have a “bad memory” and simply can’t remember things. But with very few exceptions, every responsible person memorizes things every day. We memorize how to dress ourselves, how to eat, how to move about our house, or drive our car. In fact, if you are reading and understanding this article, you have the ability to memorize. And the good news is, such abilities can be sharpened and improved.
The other reason some Christians do not memorize scripture as they should is perhaps the most dangerous of all. They simply neglect doing what they should, and they do not try hard enough to succeed. These people often memorize all kinds of numbers and sequences for work, names of professional contacts, job requirements and all sorts of business procedures, but when it comes to their spiritual abilities, they become suddenly helpless.”Oh I can’t do that!” They can memorize the names and standings of all 32 football team in the NFL, but can’t remember the names of the 27 books of the New Testament. Maybe we need to stop kidding ourselves and get serious about doing God’s will.
So what are some strategies which work when it comes to memorizing the Bible? How can I improve my retention of God’s word, so that I can recall it as needed? Here are a few methods which have proven helpful to others:
1. Use index cards. Write out the verse in full, with proper spelling, punctuation and capitalization, on one side of the card, and write the verse citation (e.g. “John 3:16”) on the other. Practice reading the verse out loud several times, followed each time by reciting the citation. You will be surprised at how quickly you can quote the verse by simply looking at the citation. When you have mastered that index card, create another, and so forth until you have a dozen or so working verses in your memory. A good time to practice with your cards is during your morning commute, or while you are waiting for an appointment, etc. Try to do it at about the same time each day, when your mind is refreshed and clear.
2. Use a friend. Make it a team effort. Quiz one another and make it a friendly competition. See how many index cards you can accurately recite before making a mistake. Husbands and wives can do this at bedtime, or over the dinner table with the children. Remember, a big part of the learning process is actually writing out the verse, word-for-word, in the first place. Each person should have their own index cards.
3. Use Listening and Reinforcement. When you hear a verse which you have memorized referred to or sighted in a sermon or class lesson, you should instinctively recite the verse in your mind and reinforce what you have learned. Try to recall the verse word-for-word and recite it silently. Run through the verses in your mind while doing household tasks, mowing the lawn, painting, etc. Use “idle” time to strengthen what you have already memorized.
4. Don’t be discouraged with slow, but steady progress. It will take more or less time to memorize passages, depending upon your age and abilities. Recognize the importance of memorizing even one verse. Most of all, remember the importance of what you are doing, and don’t get discouraged — keep memorizing God’s word!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.