Monday, March 7, 2011

Practical Scripture Memorization Tips

Few will deny the usefulness of scripture memorization, but few find it easy or enjoy consistent discipline in this area. While I am new to a daily discipline of scripture memorization, there a few practical tips that I've gleaned from others and discovered in my own experience, which make memorization easier and more alive. In my own life I have found the key to memorizing scripture is not tips or tricks or mnemonic techniques, but a heart that is motivated to meditate on wisdom and experience communion with Christ through His word. 


Soak yourself in the scripture; savor the words and meditate on God's wisdom. It may be helpful to use a lectio divina approach or simply to pray through the scripture talking to God about what it means and how it applies. The more deeply you experience scripture, the more you will remember it. Scripture memorization is not to impress your friends, but first to worship and commune with God through His word. Meditation applies both the head and the heart to the text. Read deeply. If you experience the Word both mentally and emotionally, engaging both the intellect and the passions, the experience will be memorable. We remember those things that greatly impacted us. We remember things that touched our hearts as well as our minds. Most of us are in a context of constant intellectual input. Information assaults us constantly, and we have developed instincts which discard all but the most pertinent. Those things that engage our hearts survive this filter as they penetrate deeper into our souls and change and transform us. Our goal in memorization should be a deeper experience with the Word. We will remember what scriptures we experience deeply.


Both the Navigator's Topical Memory System and Scripture by Heart recommend that you spend no less than 15 minutes and no more than 30 minutes everyday memorizing scripture. I've found this to be an excellent chunk of time, as it will allow most people to memorize at least one verse and review three to five others. This portion of time is manageable and relatively easy to keep in your disciplines.


The On the Box blog (On the Box is a half hour daily show broadcast on U-Stream, featuring evangelist Ray Comfort) features an excellent article on scripture memorization and using a simple white board to memorize. The technique involves writing the verse on the white board, reciting it with the reference and then erasing all or part of the verse and reciting and rewriting it. I highly recommend the post; I use this technique and find it extremely helpful and interactive. The technique involves multiple senses, interaction and progresses at your own pace, whether you need to memorize word by word, or by phrases or by the whole verse. It also encodes the verse in a way that you can both access the information by both reciting and writing the verse.


Review is vital for memorization. Repetition is the mother of knowledge. Using note cards remains an easy and effective way to review memory verses anywhere. Carry them in your pocket (I carry mine inside my pocket New Testament) and pull them out during spare moments, before meals etc. to review verses and keep the scripture in your long term memory.


Learning and memorization are aided by multiple sensory inputs. We remember something better when we experience it in multiple ways. Try to find inventive ways to engage your senses in your scripture memorization. One of the reasons the white board technique is effective is because it engages you visually when you see the verse, tactilely when you write the verse and audibly when you read and recite the verse aloud.


Fellowship greatly aids our experience with the Word. Just discussing scripture with a brother or sister may greatly implant that scripture in our mind and heart. Accountability in this area is also greatly rewarding as we become part of someone's experience with the Word. Quoting scripture back and forth is a great way to review and a great way to learn. A number of people learn best through social interaction, and while it may not be possible for everyone, it can be a tremendous blessing to have someone memorizing the same verses with you. Pray about asking a close brother or sister to memorize a list of scripture or a book with you.


The most practical aid to memorization is finding the proper motivation. Thinking, "I should do that" is not enough. Desiring knowledge, or even desiring wisdom, may not be enough to keep you engaged and disciplined for the long haul. Memorization will be difficult and seem dry at times, but if your motivation comes from a heart that desires to know and worship God, that passion will endure and overcome the most difficult moments and the most hectic schedules. If memorization becomes an intimate experience with Jesus and a communion with the Word as made alive by the Holy Spirit, you will find it renewing a daily passion within your heart.

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