What does it mean to lay up God’s words in your heart and mind? Among other things, it means to be continually conscious of the Bible’s instruction as you go about your daily routine. And one way to make sure that God’s words are always close at hand is to memorize verses from the Bible. Scripture memorization is an often neglected spiritual discipline but the process of memorizing can be a profound opportunity to make sure that we “do not refuse him who is speaking” (Hebrews 12:25).
For many Christians, Bible verse memorization is something kids do in Bible school, not something that adults do. And if you didn’t grow up reciting memorized Bible verses to your Bible school teacher, the idea of intentionally memorizing parts of a book—even the Book—might seem odd.
But there’s virtue in the act of memorizing—of becoming so familiar with a word, phrase, or verse that it springs to mind instantly when something happens to trigger the memory. When you’ve truly internalized something, it can stay with you all your life—consider how easy it is to recall the lyrics to songs. And if you can still remember the lyrics to a pop culture song from your youth, you’re quite capable of committing a few Bible verses to memory! “In Scripture memory, learning the text by heart is secondary; taking the text to heart is primary.” (John Piper) The end goal here is not to just have a list of verses memorized (the Pharisees were rebuked for that) but to allow those memorized verses to have implications on our hearts. Scripture memory must always be done in light of the Gospel: In doing so, this discipleship tool can be used to advance the message of Christ and bring honor and glory to God the father.
If you’ve never tried memorizing a Bible verse before, it’s much easier than you think! Pick one or two of the strategies below and give them a try, adapting your strategy as you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. One thing is certain: you’ll never regret spending more time focusing intently on God’s Word. And there’s nothing quite so wonderful as an encouraging Bible verse springing forth from memory at just the time you need to hear it.
TIPS FOR MEMORIZING GOD’S WORD
1. READ the context of each verse you memorize.
2. GAIN a clear understanding of what each verse actually means. Read the verse in other Bible translations or paraphrases.
3. READ the verse through several times, aloud or in a whisper. This will help you grasp the verse as a whole. Each time you read it out loud, say the topic, reference, verse, and then the reference again. Speaking the word greatly aids in the memory process.
4. WRITE it down. But don’t just write it once; write it many times—five or ten times is a good start (and some people write out their memory verses up to 50 times!). Physically writing the words out is an extremely useful tactile memory aid.
5. LEARN the topic and reference, then learn the first phrase of the verse. Once you have learned the topic, reference, and the first phrase and have repeated them several times, continue adding more phrases after you can quote correctly what you have already learned.
6. PRAY. When you pray, include elements of the verse in your words to God. Pray that God will help you understand and apply the verse to your life. Pray for God’s help in fixing the verse in your heart and mind.
[Adapted in part from Navigators]
Each month, our entire church body will try to memorize a verse together. We will post the verse on the 1st day of each month on both the website and all of our socials. If you’d like, you can download a phone wallpaper with that month’s verse.