This summer I’ve been studying Philippians as part of my morning quiet time. When I sat down to outline a post about what I’ve been learning so far from the passage, my mind outlined a different article.
As part of my study of Philippians, I decided to memorize the book as I went through it. Yes. The whole book. So far, I’m almost to the end of chapter 1. This memorization has proved to be the best part of my study and that’s what I want to tell you about.
Because I’m forced to think about this passage of Scripture more than once a day, I’ve learned much more of the message of book. In order to actually memorize this big of a passage, I have to review it and meditate on it and go over it throughout my day. Incorporating this Scripture into my day has been such a blessing.
Memorizing Scripture isn’t about checking off a “Good Christian” accomplishment. Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Memorizing, and therefore meditating on, Bible passages makes our hearts and minds attune to and sensitive to God and the way He enables us to live.
For example, one of the things I learned from the first chapter of Philippians is a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Paul lived to share salvation in Christ and to grow the faith of believers. Because I’ve been mentally chewing on a passage about this, I’ve been challenged in the way I live. Do I put the gospel on display to my world? Am I investing in the spiritual growth of my brothers and sisters in Christ? As I’ve been hiding God’s word in my heart, I’ve begun to live a more Christ-centered and less self-centered life.
So, how, you may ask, should a person go about memorizing Bible verses? That depends on how you learn. For me, I learn visually and kinesthetically. That means I look at the verse and repeat it so that I stamp what it looks like in my mind. Writing down the verse also helps me learn it. I’ve found that breaking a verse into small phrases and repeating each one, then adding the next phrase and saying them together helps me learn the verse. Because I’m a visual learner, I picture the verse in my mind phrase by phrase.
That is not the case for everyone. My college roommate was an auditory learner, which made for some entertaining study sessions! She remembered what she heard. If you learn that way, then listen to the passage. Download a Bible app on your phone and have it read to you. Maybe even record yourself saying the verses and then listen to it on repeat several times. Figure out what works best for you; remember, there is not one correct way to memorize.
And remember to review. This is key to effectively memorizing a passage. You might be able to repeat a verse after studying it for five minutes, but what about at the end of the day? Will you still remember it then? As I’ve added more verses, I’ve made sure to consistently review what I’ve already learned.
Memorizing Scripture sometimes seems like it takes a lot of time, but it is something you can use to redeem “wasted” time. For example, the other day, I was stopped waiting for a long railroad crossing, so I worked on learning a couple more verses while waiting in my car. You can employ this same strategy when washing dishes, brushing your teeth, folding laundry, or waiting for the elevator. I’ve found that reviewing the whole passage as I get ready for bed is a great way to solidify it in my brain and turn my heart to God as I wind down the day.
Along with reviewing the verses regularly, having someone keep you accountable is very helpful motivation to keep going. Countless times, I’ve started memorizing a passage and then petered out by about verse 4. Can you relate? Ask you roommate, sister, mom, or co-worker to quiz you on the verses that you’re learning.
When I taught 6th grade Sunday school, I challenged my girls to memorize the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Each week I gave them an index card with the verses for the next commandment. Since the girls assumed I would know each week’s verses, this challenge was excellent motivation for me to make sure that I didn’t disappoint them!
Hopefully now you’re at least a little bit inspired and prepared to memorize some Bible verses, but where do you begin? I would suggest picking a passage you are studying or verses on a topic that interests you. I’ve found that as I’ve memorized and meditated on Philippians throughout the day, it has been easier to memorize because I know the background, message, and point of the passage. The detailed studying combined with consistent reflection is showing me the richness of the Word of God.
If you haven’t done a lot of memorization, don’t start with a whole chapter or book. Thoroughly learning individual verses is very valuable. In tenth grade, in preparation for our summer missions trip, the youth group memorized ten individual verses. Over a decade later, when I read or think of Psalm 46:10 or 1 Corinthians 10:13 or several others, I still think of those two pages Summer Servants verses.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on memorizing Scripture! What are some tricks you have found helpful? Are you memorizing a passage now? What is the most impactful passage that you have memorized? And, if you see me, you can quiz me on Philippians!