By Chuck Lawless
A few months ago, I posted on this site a series of reasons to memorize the Word. As leaders in God’s church, we should model scripture memorization for believers. More than that, we need to hide God’s Word in our heart so we don’t sin against Him (Psa 119:9-11). If you don’t already memorize the Scriptures, here are some simple steps to get started.
- Decide that scripture memorization matters. It does, not only because we need to know His Word intimately, but also because the day may come when we no longer have free access to the Word. If your ministry were ever limited to the Bible verses you have already stored in your mind, how strong would your ministry be?
- Tell somebody about your commitment. Tell your spouse. Let your children know. Inform your pastor or staff. If others who matter to you know what you’re doing, you will fight harder to reach your goal. By the way, your school-age children make great accountability partners for scripture memorization. They’ll always ask about your verses, and they’ll learn them at the same time.
- Take advantage of apps and other internet-based resources for memorization. Do a search for “apps for Scripture memorization,” and you’ll find dozens of possibilities. Watch the comments after this post to see particular apps our readers recommend.
- Memorize verses from your quiet time study. Some folks choose texts to memorize apart from their personal Bible study; that works, but I’m not convinced it’s the best approach. As you do your Bible study, watch for verses to memorize. You’ll be more inclined to remember the texts if the Lord directed you to them during your time with Him. In fact, I write the verse on one side of an index card (see #8 below), and I then write on the other side the devotional date and overall reading from which the text came.
- Always have a verse in your pocket, on your phone, etc. Think about how much free time you have throughout the day to memorize a verse or two. Waiting at a traffic light. Standing in a line. Walking between meetings. Sitting at a lunch table. Taking a break in the bathroom (seriously…). Use your time productively by focusing on the Word.
- Start by memorizing one verse at a time every other week. That approach means you’ll memorize 26 verses over the next year. Remember, let the verse be one the Lord brought to light for you in your own study.
- Use the “off weeks” for review. On week 2, review the text from week 1. On week 4, review the texts from weeks 1 and 3. Review is critical, so plan those times.
- Simply read the verse dozens of times each day. My process is to write on an index card (a) the scripture reference, (2) the text, and (3) the scripture reference again. That way, I read the reference twice for every time I recite the verse. Read the verses over and over and over again throughout the day, and you can almost learn them without trying.
- Practice strategically. Once you have generally learned the verse, ask others throughout the week to check your memorization. Ask a co-worker. A neighbor. A family member. Your boss. Someone in the grocery line. Here’s what happens when you follow this technique: you proclaim the Word of God to others in the midst of practicing memorization. The Word will not return empty (Isa. 55:11), so only God knows what He might do when you strategically proclaim it to others.
- Just start. Memorize something. Today. Perhaps even right now.
What memorization strategies have worked for you? What apps do you recommend?
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.