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In the last issue, I gave ten Biblical reasons why one should memorize Scripture. In this issue, I will give specific techniques to aid in memorizing verses from the Bible. Prayerfully consider making Scripture memorization an on-going part of your devotional life. Then you too will be able to say: "I have hidden Your word in my heart" (Ps. 119:11).
As discussed last issue, Scripture memorization is valuable for many reasons, among them: it helps us understand the Bible more as we meditate on the verses, it aids in witnessing because the verses are at one's finger tips and it prevents vain thoughts because the Scripture meditation crowds out less edifying meditation. A good starting place for memorizing Scripture is the memorization of individual verses. This article will give specific techniques to aid one in memorizing verses that I personally have found helpful.
One of the most valuable tools for me in my memorization of the Bible is the spiral-bound set of 3-by-5 cards. They are very handy because their compact size and the fact that they are bound makes them easy to carry around. Also, they are durable. As a first step, I recommend that you visit your stationer's and buy a few sets (the stores never seem to keep enough on hand!).
To get started, choose a verse that you would like to memorize. Then, give the verse a "title" that describes the content of the verse. Write the "title" of the verse on one side of a card. On the other side of the same card, write the reference (chapter and verse) and the actual verse. Now you are ready to start memorizing. Here are some tips on doing the actual memorization:[Footnote #3]
1. Pray about the selection of the verses to be memorized, and pray also for success in memorizing them.
2. Read the context of the verse in the Bible to better understand the verse.
3. Before trying to memorize, read the verse several times through until you think you have a clear understanding of the verse. You will find that, as you memorize and practice the verse, your understanding of the verse will grow.
4. Work on the verses aloud, if possible.
5. When reciting the verse, always say the "title" that you have given the verse, then the reference (such as "John 3:16"), the verse, and then the reference again.
6. When starting to memorize the verse, first learn the "title", the reference and the first phrase as one unit.
7. Continue to memorize by adding additional phrases one by one.
8. As you memorize, think about how the verse applies to your own life.
9. Use spare moments during the day to practice your verses, such as while driving, waiting in line, etc.
10. Make sure you know the verses "word perfect" (don't leave out "ands" or "buts" etc.).
11. Review new verses that you are memorizing at least once a day, until you know them fluently.
The spiral-bound 3-by-5 cards make it easy to test yourself. Look at the "topic" on the one side of the card and try to recite the reference and verse written on the other side. Then, flip the card over to check yourself and repeat the process with the verse on the next card.
Once you have memorized a lot of verses, it will become too time consuming to go over all the verses every time you review them. So, after you have memorized a lot of verses, only review the new verses every day. Also, review five of your "old" verses, so that you do not forget them. If, while you are reviewing an old verse, you find that you are having problems with it, treat it as a "new" verse and review it every day until you know it fluently again.
It is best to only work on one or two "new" verses at a time, so keep a list of verses that you would like to memorize in the future. The best way to choose verses is to jot down the verses that "stand out" as you read the Bible. Also, during a sermon, a verse may "stand out". Jot down the reference and add it to your memorization list. I have found that the verses that I memorize come in two categories: verses that I have chosen for my own edification and verses that I have chosen to be ready to witness to or edify others.
Here is a list of verses (along with the "titles" that I have given them) that I have found edifying and useful to memorize and meditate on:
God's Desire for Our Faith Heb. 11:6
The Fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22,23
God's Work in Our Lives Rom. 8:28
God's Omnipresence Heb. 4:13
Salvation in Jesus Only Acts 4:12
The Inspiration of the Bible I Tim. 3:16,17
How to be Saved Rom. 10:9
The Way to Resist Evil Eph. 6:13
God's Will: Thanksgiving I Thess. 5:16-18
The Law Is For Us Deut. 6:24
Resisting Temptation I Cor. 10:13
Preparation for Witnessing I Pet. 3:15,16
Confidence in Prayer I John 5:14,15
Living in Christ Col. 3:17
Care in Living Eph. 5:15,16
Encouragement Heb. 10:24,25
Judgment: All Must Face It II Cor. 5:10
Spiritual Renewal II Cor. 4:16
Peace in Jesus John 16:33
Gaining God's Guidance Prov. 3:5,6
Results of Denying Jesus Matt. 10:33
We, as a Living Sacrifice Rom. 12:1
Diligence in Bible Study II Tim. 2:15
God's Providence Matt. 6:33
Disposition of the Lord's Servant II Tim. 2:24,25
All Scripture to Teach Us Rom. 15:4
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus Heb. 12:2
We as Heirs Rom. 8:17
How to Love God I John 5:3
These should be enough to get started! May the Lord bless you as you store His word in your heart. And now, Father, give us the time, opportunity and desire to store Your word in our hearts and to meditate on it. Guide us in the verses we choose and, by Your Spirit, give us a deep understanding of the verses we choose to keep in our hearts. In the name of Jesus, we ask these things, Amen.
(In the next issue, we will look at techniques for memorizing long passages of Scripture.)
3. Adapted from "The 2:7 Series, Course 1, The Growing Disciple", NavPress, 1987.
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