Have you ever tried to memorize scripture? Started out with big plans to memorize say, a chapter a month. Failed miserably after trying for just a week? This method emphasizes finding a workable plan for you, starting with one or two verses a week. The usefulness of this plan is in its simplicity.
Let’s discuss a simple seven-step plan to scripture memory that will have you on your way in no time at all.
Everybody wants things broken down in simple steps right? So here we have Seven Steps To Scripture Memory Success. This is based on an article published on the Bible.org web site by Greg Herrick, a Pastor near Toronto.
He makes seven observations about scripture memory that I want to begin with and expand a bit, so I’ve turned his remarks into Seven Steps To Scripture Memory Success.
I’ll talk about these seven steps then I want to show you a tool to assist you on your scripture memory mission should you chose to accept it – as they say in Mission Impossible. But there’s a difference – this is mission possible.
1. Understand The Importance Of Scripture Memory
Greg Herrick says “memorizing the Bible is one of the best ways to “get the Bible into your life” on a daily basis. The moments spent in memorization and meditation pay off rich dividends in your relationship with God, with others in the body, and indeed in explaining the gospel to those who have not yet heard. I have personally seen the lives of countless people, including myself, enriched as a result of Scripture memorization and meditation.”
He’s so right. Imagine you are driving along reciting to yourself this week’s scripture passage. Let’s say its Ephesians 4:29-32
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Then, out of the blue, bam! Some guy cuts you off in traffic and you have to swerve to miss him. What comes out of your mouth next is the proof of what is in your heart. You certainly may have reason to be upset. But maybe the person didn’t see you – maybe he was on his way to the hospital with his pregnant wife.
We may well be angry but if we are hiding God’s Word in our hearts how we display our anger will be very different from the times we’ve struggled with our anger.
(Psa 119:11 NIV) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Our relationships with our families will be transformed with God’s Word in our hearts.
Dealing with difficult people will be less of a chore for us with God’s Word fresh in our hearts.
Those times you’ve been challenged with a question about your religion will be easier to answer with the help of the Holy Spirit because you’ve been tucking away scriptures for future reference–scriptures that deal with what we believe and why we believe it.
So we must understand the importance of scripture memory.
2. Have A Plan
Herrick says,” some people want to memorize, but often fail as the result of lack of a plan.” The scripture memory guide I’ll be sharing with you in a bit is an attempt to provide a plan or structure for Scripture memory.
It’s been said “failing to plan equals planning to fail” and “if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it”.
1 Corinthians 14:40 in the NIV says;
But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
We serve a God of order. God created the earth in six days in a way that was purposeful and in order. Then God instructed Adam to name the animals. God wanted there to be some organization and order to things.
We may realize that scripture memory is important but if we fail to have a plan we’ve already planned to fail.
That’s why it’s important to keep things simple. We all have busy lives. Our days are filled with doing the next thing. We need a plan that’s workable. In the guide to scripture memory I’ll be showing you in a moment there are ten sections. Herrick says, ” These categories are generally recognized as providing an organized structure for the main areas of scriptural revelation.” The sections are:
1. The Bible
3. Jesus Christ
4. The Holy Spirit
6. Man and Sin
8. The Church
9. End Times
10. The Gospel
Each section is further broken down into categories. You should plan to just take small bites. Start with the first category in the first section and chose the first verse or two to memorize this week. Take those two verses and write them on separate cards with the topic above the reference and text of the verse and just the reference and topic on the other side.
The Navigators and others emphasize memorizing the topic with the verse – this is important for future recall of the passages during conversations with friends and family and those in need of Biblical answers.
So we must understand the importance of scripture memory, have a plan and we must…
3. Ask For Help
Greg Herrick says “seek God in prayer for the strength and the discipline to memorize His Word. Find a friend and the two of you encourage each other to memorize verses.”
We should approach this mission of scripture memory prayerfully. Satan will not be pleased when he finds us memorizing God’s Word. We can probably plan on some opposition. Shouldn’t we go to the Lord and ask for His protection, and guiding hand as we set out to memorize the scriptures?
We should also be willing to ask someone else for help. For single folks, it may mean finding someone in the church to join you in this scripture memory mission.
If you are married you and your spouse should hold one another accountable. Or children and parents could hold each other accountable. Kids love this kind of stuff. “Hey dad can you say this week’s memory verses?”
Eccl. 4:9-12 is a great example of how we can be an encouragement to one another.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
So we must understand the importance of scripture memory, have a plan, and ask for help.
4. Put The Verse Into Context
Herrick says “diligently read the context before and after in order to correctly understand what the verse means. I like to write out in a sentence or so, how a verse relates to its context (i.e., the paragraph or book as a whole).”
This is important for us to do if we are to understand and apply scripture to our daily lives. Memorizing the scriptures at hand is great but understanding the significance and meaning within the context of surrounding verses is important. For one thing it helps prepare us for the inevitable conversations we’ll have with others when applying scriptures to the daily issues of life.
Understanding the verse within its context also guards against doctrinal error. If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves picking and choosing verses to apply to situations. In effect what we end up doing is making God’s Word say what we want it to say, instead of letting it speak to us and direct our lives the way God intended.
5. Repeat The Verse Aloud
Herrick says “repeating the verse aloud several times immediately after memorizing will help you retain it.”
Repetition of the scripture passage that we are memorizing each week helps us retain that passage throughout the day. I’d recommend taking a moment early each day, maybe while you are getting dressed to read the verse from the index card aloud and then repeat the verse several times aloud from memory. Then try to make time throughout the day from time to time to repeat the verse aloud. A good time would be when you are driving to and from work or while you are doing dishes or laundry.
6. Review Verses Memorized
Herrick instructs that “prayerfully reviewing a few of your verses daily will help you to remember them for present and future use.”
What good would it do us to memorize one or two verses each week if we didn’t review them occasionally? With the exception of those of us who have perfect memories, we’d soon forget the passages we learned.
The idea here is to keep a few of your scripture memory index cards with your memory card/s for the week. After working on this week’s verse spend a moment refreshing your memory from previous weeks verses. Get a small card file box and make up a simple rotation to your memory cards as you’ve reviewed a couple of cards that week move them to the back and chose two or three from the front for the next week.
7. Meditate On the Scriptures
Finally, Herrick says “meditate on the word of God as you memorize it, asking God what he means by the verse in its context and also what he wants to communicate to you through the verse. Prayerful meditation will lead to personal application which in turn, if done in a personal and honest way, leads to a deeper spiritual life and increased love for people. This is the goal of Scripture memory.”
It is vital that we spend time each week, each day, making application to our lives from the scriptures we are memorizing, We ought to be prayerfully asking the Lord to teach us through the use and memory of these passages. We need to seek to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading as we apply these truths to our lives.
The result of this personal application should be a rich spiritual life that in turn shows the love of Christ to those around us.
So that’s it. Pretty manageable I think. Now go to Bible.org and get a copy of Greg Herrick’s Advanced Scripture Memory Program. It’s free to download and full of scripture to get you started.