“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
A guest speaker in a well-known mega-church once asked the congregation to raise their hands if they had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The vast majority responded affirmatively. He then told the people who had known the Lord for less than five years to lower their hands. “Of those of you who still have your hands in that air, how many of you know twenty-five scripture verses from memory?” he inquired. Very few hands were visible at this point. “I want to speak to those of you who just now lowered your hands,” the man of God continued. “Do you mean to sit there and tell me that you know and love Jesus, the Living Word of God, and you have a relationship with him, when you can't even memorize five Bible verses a year!” Someone then dropped a pin.
These may not be the exact words said from the pulpit that night, but that one point driven home by a speaker whose name we cannot remember impacted us immensely. We were new Christians and had been memorizing a few scriptures here and there, but not in a systematic way. Methods of memorizing scripture abound. Find what works for you and whatever it is, do it!
“But why should I memorize scripture?”
The precedent is set for us in the Bible.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”—Psalm 119:11
There is guidance for us in the scripture.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”—Psalm 119:105
Scripture has power to save us from sinning. Even Jesus used scripture to defeat temptation and fend off the devil.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”—Matt 4:3-11
Notice that Satan knows scripture! However, he twists it, misquotes it and uses it out of context. He has been doing that ever since his little conversation with Eve. It is so important that we be able to recognize a misquoted or abused scripture!
“I don’t have time to memorize Bible verses.”
Yes, you do! We just do not take the time. Here are just a few times, places and ways to incorporate scripture memorization into your day.
Keep a small card (business card size, 3×5, etc.) with the verse to memorize on one side and the place it is found in the Bible on the other. Read the verse to yourself. Repeat it by memory, even if you are starting with a short phrase at a time. Once you have those few words down, add the next little part of the verse. When you are working on the verse in its entirety, don't forget to say the address at the end. The scripture alone will be powerful, but you will do yourself and others a great service if you can easily find that verse in the Bible.
To make it easy for you to get started memorizing scripture, you can download free Bible Memorization Cards—just print them on cardstock and cut them apart.
“Now, what do I do with that card?”
“How can you quote so many verses?”
Have you ever met someone who seems to have the entire Word hidden in his heart? Okay, maybe just the Pentateuch and the Gospels, but you get the point. Actually, there are too few of this type of person around. Here is the secret: If you do not use it, you lose it. (I wonder if a version of that phrase is in Proverbs?) To keep your scriptures in your memory, REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW. I must admit I used to be able to quote many more verses that I can now, because I quit reviewing my stack of cards a few years ago. I am grieved by this loss and am gradually reacquainting myself with them. How many new ones could I be adding during the time I spend restoring what I threw away?
“I just can't do it.”
Yes, you can. You can do all things through Christ which strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). You do not have to memorize a new scripture each week, though this may be a good goal for some people. One a month may seem more realistic to you and that is great if you can keep going with it consistently. Just be careful that you do not get so comfortable with one verse that you forget to add a new one when the next month finally rolls around. You do not have to be on a set time frame at all, just start a new scripture as soon as you are comfortable with the last one.
Here’s one more little tip.
If you need a little boost to get started, think of every scripture you know by heart. Maybe you know John 3:16 or Genesis 1:1. How about the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.”—John 11:35? Start out with these and you will already have a little stack of scripture verses that you did not even realize you knew! Can you quote the Ten Commandments? (Exodus 20) How about the two supreme commandments (Matthew 22:37-39)? Next, find scriptures that are meaningful to you. They are so much easier to memorize if they are really speaking to you at the time. Just pick something and get started. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Bible Memorization for Children
Children can memorize nearly effortlessly! Children can recite their favorite books, movies, songs, rhymes and a lot of other nonsense. How do they learn it? By repetition. How do they keep it? By repetition.
When our son was three we began teaching him to recite scripture verses. He picked up on them easily and quickly. People would ask us why we would do that when he did not even know what the verse meant. We would tell them it was because when he was old enough to know the meaning, then he would already have the verse hidden in his heart. It was easy and fun to teach him God’s Word.
We put together a little booklet for our son with a variety of scriptures and a simple graphic below each verse. We then read the booklet to him, pointing to each picture as we said the corresponding verse. He quickly picked up on them and could “read” his book to himself, as pre-reading children often do with other types of books. What a blessing to hear him reciting God’s Word instead of some nonsensical poem!
We have updated this Bible Memorization Booklet (free pdf download) for you to use in your family. It can be used by anyone old enough to speak the words. The entire family could use the same method and memorize scripture together. This is great for the visual learner. The graphics are simply cues to associate with the verse printed above them. They don't necessarily have to relate to the verse and you would eventually move on to practicing the verse without the picture, using the citation as a cue.
We hope this will be a great blessing and encouragement in scripture memorization. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11.