How to Memorize Bible Verses
by Manuela Braga
Names, addresses, phone numbers, song lyrics, lines from our favourite movies… we retain information every day – including things which may not be that useful! Yet I find it remarkably challenging to remember the Bible’s precious words.
Many times I can only vaguely remember something I once read in the Scriptures. I struggle to recite the words or even remember the reference so I can look it up. But when an old song plays on the radio, I can effortlessly sing along. I feel like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do“.
But, WHY is it vital to memorize the Word of God?
For me, not memorizing God’s word compromises my life. Scripture memorization is essential to growing in Christ. I think that’s why the mandate to memorize is repeated over 17 times throughout the Bible.
Memorization helps ensure we hear God’s voice and not just our own. In Isaiah 55:8, God declares that His thoughts, “are not your thoughts,” and His ways, “are not your ways” – they are much higher! It’s both about turning down the voice of our own understanding and making sure that we are not mistaking our ideas with His.
Then too, we often feel conflicted and confused. But memorizing Bible verses helps us learn to trust His voice, His words. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding“.
Finally, this has been a time in which many people are searching. People around you may have questions about your faith when you are least expecting. As you share your testimony of faith, it is helpful to point people to Bible verses as evidence to back up your claims and support your story. When you have Scripture already memorized, you will be able to call it to mind immediately. Or rather, the Holy Spirit can bring it to memory and encourage others!
So, how do we make sure Bible verses stick with us? Here are some helpful tips:
- Find the right environment: For better concentration, find an environment where you can focus, away from distractions – maybe a quiet space at home or a peaceful place outdoors.
- Assemble your materials: To activate your kinesthetic and visual memory, be ready to write down Bible passages. Get a paper and pen – colourful markers will help too, but that’s completely optional! A digital notepad might also work for some.
- Pray and meditate: Much of what we remember easily – a phone number or an address – comes because it’s relevant to how we live. Or we associate a piece of music with a time or event or place. With Scripture, taking time to capture the importance of the words will help with recollection. Take your time when you read the passage. Absorb each and every word. Read it again and again, while praying for the Holy Spirit to speak into your life. The connection you make with each word will help embed it in your life.
- Read it out loud: Listen to the words you are repeating. Say it more than once. Pronounce each word clearly. Don’t forget to also read aloud the Bible reference.
- Write it down: Time to use your materials! Write down the verse on a piece of paper. Putting your body into motion to copy (or type) the verse will be key for the next step.
- Keywords: Highlight the keywords and their sequence. Read out loud or copy this list again and again on your notepad. For example, if you are memorizing John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son and that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life“, the keywords would be “God”, “loved”, “world”, “Son”, “whoever”, “believes”, “perish”, “eternal”, and “life”. Based on these keywords, try to recite the full verse.
- Memorize the reference: Don’t forget to include the Bible reference in your practice! If you are writing the verse down, include the reference in the beginning and at the end of the passage to make it easier to recall.
- Practice during routine tasks: If you are like me, what you remember and can recite after studying won’t be there the next day, unless you keep practicing. With a mental note (or a mobile alarm), the next time you are in the shower, walking the dog, cooking or brushing your teeth, repeat the verse to yourself. These daily habits can prompt you to keep practicing in the days to come.
Bonus: This last tip is from my mother, and it works! Rewrite the verses on index cards with coloured markers, and post them around you, in places you visit the most (your bed, above your light switch, bathroom mirror, etc.).
I hope these tips are helpful. If you are up for a challenge, try to memorize at least one verse this month.
Suppose you don’t know where to start. In that case, we invite you to check out our monthly Daily Manna, which contains a selection of inspiring Bible verses that you can read every day.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you”. Psalm 119:11