When I was a new Christian, I was determined to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible. I wanted to read the Bible in full. But I also wanted to dig into some of the wilder stuff, like Revelation.1 I also wanted to figure out how to memorize Scripture.
There were people I knew who could rhyme off different verses verbatim in a way that I’d never seen before. I, meanwhile, could rhyme off quotes from Star Trek and High Fidelity. Eventually, though, I managed to memorize a few verses—and then an entire book of the Bible!
I still come back to this periodically, particularly the practice. The verses I have memorized haven’t always stuck; sometimes they get a bit fuzzy and it sounds like I’m quoting Scripture the way that the New Testament writers often did.2
Whether you’re a new Christian or you’ve been a believer for a fairly significant time, memorizing Scripture is a good idea. And whether you’ve tried it before, or you’re ready to give it a shot, I want to share three tricks—three mnemonic devices to help you memorize Scripture, and, Lord willing, keep it.
Memorize Scripture with music (and audio devices)
Music is inherently “sticky.” It gets into your head and it’s hard to get it out (as anyone who has heard Toto’s “Africa” can confirm). And there are already some pretty fantastic tools out there to help you use music to memorize portions of the Bible. The Rizers albums are really helpful for this and are ideal for listening to with kids. Listen to Verses is another great app that can help you with an immersive experience. And while it doesn’t put Scripture to song, the Dwell Bible app has excellent tools to help you memorize verses in just five minutes a day.
Write verses by hand
Writing down the words in a notebook, by hand, is tremendously helpful. Memorizing Scripture is a holistic discipline. It’s not just a matter of reading or of hearing. Those make a huge difference, but you should write down the verses, as well. Let your mind focus on the words as you write them (and not in a hoobity-boobity kind of way). “Own” the words by writing them by hand.
Read it out loud (and repeat)
When he was small, I read my son every Elephant and Piggie book. Multiple times. Because of this, I was able to recite significant portions of several of them for years afterward.3 While you might not be as comfortable doing this as the parent of young children, it is a helpful device for memorizing. You’re only hearing the Word, but you’re hearing it in your own voice. It’s pretty powerful and effective.
So those are three tricks to get you started. Have some other helpful ideas? Let me know on the social medias!
- This may not have been a wise choice right away.
- “It says somewhere…”
- For example, “I want to say Happy Pig Day in pig, but I am not a pig. I am an elephant. And I do not belong.”