Rediscovering Scripture Memory
By Artie C. Gheen
(Scripture memorization is an excellent tool to use in Spiritual Warfare. Here’s an excellent article to consider sharing with your Men’s group at their next meeting. — Editors)
I hadn’t thought much about my lapsed habit of Scripture memory until I began leading third- and fourth-grade girls at my church’s Awana club. This youth program places heavy emphasis on memorizing verses. I decided that the girls might feel more challenged if I went through the program with them. I informed them that anyone who could beat me through the workbook of memory verses would receive a prize. Before long, I was back in the swing of memorizing. It wasn’t as difficult as I remembered. Feeling rather inspired, I picked up some of the extra-credit verses in the back of the book. At the end of the club year, I tallied everything up. To my surprise, I had memorized nearly 200 verses!
Even though the club year was over, I derided to keep memorizing Scripture. My goal was to work on one chapter of Romans at a time until I could recite the chapter word for word.
During the summer I memorized three chapters and was delighted by the outcome. I found that I could recall what I had memorized with accuracy. While talking to my family one evening, I surprised even myself by quoting a relevant verse reference and all off the top of my head!
The truly impressive part, however, was what happened in me. For a long rime I had equated meditating on God’s Word with doing my daily Bible reading. Each day I read a passage, considered how to apply it to my life, and made an earnest effort to follow through. I was genuinely focused on God’s Word and sincerely seeking His will. But when I began memorizing again, I discovered that although I had regularly read my Bible I hadn’t truly been meditating on it. The repetition required to memorize verses forced me to think about each passage in greater depth. I was amazed at how my understanding of God’s Word grew in the 15 minutes a day that I spent committing it to heart.
Memorizing Scripture also made applying it much easier. God’s commands became a part of me. When I encountered a difficult situation, I no longer had to track down a Bible and concordance to discover what Scripture said about it; the Holy Spirit could call to mind verses I already knew. This enabled me to respond Christ’s way the first rime.
Finally, I discovered the truth of Psalm 1, which compares the man who meditates on God’s Word to a tee planted by rivers of water. As Jer. 17:8 says, when drought comes, this man doesn’t waver, but continues with the same peace and assurance he had before the trial. The Scripture I’ve memorized serves as a comfort and a constant reminder of the sure love of my Savior.
For those who aren’t quite as go-get-’em as I am, memorizing chapters may sound overwhelming. The point is not how much you memorize but simply that you memorize. To help you get started, I’d like to offer some suggestions that have worked for me and my third- and fourth-grade girls.
Pick a translation to memorize from, and stick to it. I’ve tried memorizing in three different versions simultaneously, and let me tell you, it gets difficult after a while.
Since you will be the first and primary beneficiary of your memory work, it’s best to choose a translation you find easy to understand, memorize, and explain. If the wording seems awkward, pick another translation.
There are other factors you may want to consider. In addition to personal growth and encouragement, how will you use the verses? If you teach Sunday school, you may want to memorize in your church’s preferred translation. If you’re memorizing with your kids (a terrific way to stay motivated and reach them at the same time), pick a translation they’ll understand, such as the New International Version or the New Living Translation. Do you counsel other believers or talk frequently with the unsaved? Choose a translation they will find easy to grasp (and relate to).
If you’re not familiar with many translations, check out a few at your local bookstore. Your pastor or Christian friends may also have good suggestions. Ultimately, whatever translation you choose will yield the same result: a deeper understanding of God’s Word.
Decide what to memorize. Selecting a verse or passage to memorize can be a challenge. The Bible is a big hook, and all of it is good!
The easiest solution is to buy a packet of preselected verses, available through many Christian retailers. The verses are usually arranged into topical categories. You can also search a concordance for memory verses. Pick an issue that you struggle with or a topic you would like to learn more about. Another great place to start is a verse that really hit home during your Bible study or a passage you refer to consistently
Once you’ve chosen a translation and a passage, you’re ready to memorize. These strategies can make the process less intimidating.
Take it one bite at a time. Memorize passages verse by verse rather than in big chunks. If the verses are long, work line by line or from one comma to the next.
Use the beat. Some portions of Scripture have a rhythm. Go with it. A number of girls in my Awana club recited verses to me as if they were rappers. A friend of mine with a gift for music makes up tunes to help her and her children remember Scripture. Some people memorize Bible passages like hits of Shakespearian poetry. These methods may seem untraditional, but they work.
Copy it. Sometimes making your own copy of a verse helps you to see it in a different light. A word stands out or you catch an inflection that you didn’t before.
Most of my Awana girls rewrite their verses on 3-by-5-inch index cards. I type mine into a word processing document and Print them on make-your-own business cards. (These aren’t terribly expensive, and they stand up in your back pocket much better than the average sheet of paper. You might also photocopy the Bible page on which your verse appears. If you can visualize where the verse is on the page, you’ll he more likely to recall it.
Find a study partner. Ask someone – a spouse, a Sibling, your best friend, your prayer partner – to hold you accountable and double-check your work. Several of my girls work on verses with schoolmates on the ride to school or at recess. If a potential partner needs a little extra motivation, offer an incentive. A cup of coffee maybe enough to get your friend interested in memorizing or at least thinking about it.
Pick a convenient time to work on your verses. I set aside 15 uninterrupted minutes in the morning for Scripture memory.
If your schedule is packed from one end to the other, look for creative times to memorize. Try repeating verses while you exercise or while eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. Tape scriptures to your dashboard, and work on them while you’re stopped in traffic. Carry a copy of your verses in your pocket or purse so they’ll be available while you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting at the doctor’s office. Or memorize while you’re waiting for church to start. The key is to work on your verses regularly–even if only for a couple of minutes every day.
Keep it visible. Place copies of your memory verses where you will see them – on a bathroom mirror, in the cereal cabinet, taped to a computer monitor, or as bookmarks in your Bible. That way, you’ll be reminded to work on them each day.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Sometimes you just have to say a phrase over and over until it’s burned into your brain. If repeating the same verse gets tedious, try memorizing something else for a while. Often, focusing on a new passage can help you memorize the old one.
Review regularly. After working hard to memorize a verse, it’s a shame to forget it. I set aside one morning a week to review. Rotating through the passages I’ve previously learned keeps all of my work fresh in my mind.
Don’t give up. You might think, I’ve never been good at memorizing. True, it may be difficult at first, but Scripture memory is one of those things that gets easier with practice. Remember, it isn’t about how much you memorize. The ultimate goal is to grow more like Christ through hiding His Word in your heart. Keep your focus, and you’ll find the blessings are beyond anything you could have imagine!
“Rediscovering Scripture Memory,” By Artie C. Gheen.
�This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”