Of all the ways to grow in my personal relationship with God, memorizing His Word has been my least favorite. In fact, outside of studying for the Bible Bowl of 1999, I have never consistently memorized Scripture. Oh, I’ve read it! And I’ve thought on it and studied it. I’ve even taught on it. But I’ve never committed it to memory. Honestly- I didn’t think I could.
But lately, I have felt the Lord calling me deeper into His Word. As Jen Wilkin once said, “If we want to feel more deeply about God, then we need to think more deeply about God.” What better way to think more deeply than to memorize His Word?
I’ve never run a marathon (nor do I ever hope to) but I am told it’s not something you just “up and do”. You have to train for it. I felt memorizing a multi-chapter book was a bit like running a marathon. I knew I needed to start small and work up to it. I decided to start off with one of the shorter books- or the shortest: 2 John.
Drafting My Training Regimine:
As I researched how to memorize books of the Bible, I stumbled upon a lovely e-book by Dr. Andrew Davis. In his booklet, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture, Dr. Davis lays out very simple steps to memorizing Scripture. I took his basic plan and tweaked it to fit my personal learning style.
First, I set a deadline.
Dr. Davis suggests learning one new verse a day. So, I looked at my calendar and counted out thirteen days (2 John has 13 verses). Then, I added three days, to give myself some grace. Having a deadline kept me moving forward when I accidentally skipped a day. And let me tell you, I used every one of those grace days!
Then, each day, I would read, recite, and write, like this:
- Read over my old verses one time.
- Read my new verse out loud ten times, with the verse address (i.e. 1:1).
- Cover up the new verse, and say it out loud ten more times, with the verse address.
- Write out all of the old verses, plus the new verse.
That was it for the day! Dr. Davis didn’t suggest writing out the verses, but I learn best when I write something out, so I did that for myself. Even on the final day, it took me less than 15 minutes to read over it, recite it from memory, and write it out.
Three Things I Found to be Difficult:
Remembering to Learn My Verse: After the initial excitement faded (circa day five) there were several days I completely forgot to learn my verse! I eventually set a daily alarm on my phone to prompt me to sit down and do the work.
Remembering to Learn the Addresses: Dr. Davis makes a pretty big deal about taking this extra step. While I can see why it’s important now, in the beginning, I frequently forgot to do this and had to go back. It was pretty annoying.
Remembering the Exact Wording: While I could usually remember the overall idea of a verse, I struggled to remember the exact phrasing. I would get discouraged when I would miss words and I couldn’t figure out a way to correct myself when it happened. A friend later shared an app that really helped in this area…we’ll get to that in a moment.
Three Things I Found Helpful:
Writing it out: In college, I found I absorbed information best when I wrote it out, so I decided to use that approach here. It not only tested my memory, but I believe the process of thinking it and then writing it reinforced the words two times over. I purchased a cheap spiral bound notebook and loved watching the verses take up more and more space each day. I hope to one day see the entire notebook filled with the books I’ve committed to memory!
Learning the Verse Address: While I’ve mentioned how frustrating this part of the process was for me, it ends up Dr. Davis knows what He’s talking about. Learning the addresses is extremely helpful in recalling specific verses. It kept me from skipping over verses and when I would get stuck, the address often reminded me what verse should come next.
Bible Memory App: This is the app I mentioned to you earlier. It is perfect for extended scripture memory. You just key in the set of verses you want to memorize; it breaks it up verse by verse, and then quizzes you- like a game. You type in the first letter of each word and it buzzes you each time you miss a word. You have to get 86% right to pass on to the next verse. I particularly love it now that I am in the “maintaining” phase with 2 John.
Once you’ve memorized an entire book, Dr. Davis suggests repeating the book once a day for 100 days. After 100 days is up – glory upon glory- he suggests letting it go. For some reason, I thought once I began learning books I had to keep up with them all. But Dr. Davis points out, while a released book may not be fully accessible, it’s lessons and main points will stay with you. You will always know where to look for a verse, even if you can’t recall it word for word. And once you have internalized a book, the Holy Spirit will always be able to recall it to your memory when needed.
Since I finished memorizing 2 John on Feb 16, I plan to “kiss it goodbye” on May 27.
I loved memorizing 2 John. As I memorized it, I also studied it and now, each time I recite it, I remember the important message John shares about Christ’s love and walking in His truth. God has used each step of this process to renew my mind and transform my heart.
I hope you can see how easy it is to memorize a book and that you’ll give it a try! If you do, I’d love to hear your experience!