21 Days in the Word - Tool 16 - Memorizing the Word
One of the most important steps we can take with the Bible is to develop a Bible memorization plan. Psalms 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against God.” So very often in a critical moment of temptation or testing, there is not the opportunity to do a Bible Study or call a friend. When Jesus was ambushed by Satan in the wilderness he didn’t have time to think up a good response. What came out of his mouth almost instantly was a verse he had memorized. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Even on the cross, as Jesus cried out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me,” many don’t realize that he was actually quoting Psalms 22. His heart bled the word because He had taken time to memorize it.
Though everyone’s mind works a little differently, I’d like to share a couple of ideas that have helped me to memorize scripture.
1. First is to recognize a few reasons why a certain scripture might be helpful for you to memorize. If you have certain sins or areas of attack and discouragement that seem to repeatedly come against you, make special note of that and ask and seek for Scriptures that especially give you a response to that. For many years I would often struggle with looking back and being overwhelmed with regret for stupid things I had said or did. There were a couple of verses that when I saw them I knew I needed in my memory bank. Romans 8:1 says, “there is now therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” I also found Philippians 3:13 -14 that says, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching for what lies ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I knew these verses were especially for me to use with what I was dealing with and so I was motivated to spend the time it takes to memorize.
2. When it comes to memorization nothing can take the place of repetition. I’ve told myself that if I am willing to repeat this 50 times there is a good chance I’m going to memorize it. I like to use the method I mentioned earlier of taking one word at a time and repeating it just adding one word until I finish a whole verse. “There, there is, there is therefore, there is therefore now, there is therefore now no condemnation, there is therefore now no condemnation to, there is therefore now no condemnation to those, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
3. Singing is a fantastic way to memorize. It is wonderful that there are so many songs that are scripture quotations. I’ve memorized dozens of verses through songs. I’ve also found it helpful to sometimes make up my own song. I will take a familiar tune and then put the words of a scripture in and sing that tune. Amazing grace is a good tune to use.
4. Pictures are probably the best way to remember things. If we can turn a scripture into a string of pictures that tell a story it ups the likelihood that we will be able to memorize a verse. Maybe some of you have tried this with remembering names. For example if you notice someone whose name is Bill and notice he has noticeable ears, you can see in your imagination his ears as bells and say here comes ear bells. That association can help you remember he is Bill.
I have found that it doesn’t matter if the pictures and story you make up is totally bizarre. If you use it to write the verse in your mind you will soon forget the bizarre picture and remember the verse.
For example here is how I might imagine Romans 8:1: I have pictures for each number. Eight is a gate and a one is a tie. So I would see a Roman soldier opening a gate filled with ties. As the gate opens I see a picture of four cows with giant noses that is getting torn in two. (Tear is nose.) As the picture tears there is a general on the other side with a medal waiting to give a commendation by putting it around the neck of the Roman soldier. As the Roman soldier gets his commendation he puts his toes on a cross where Jesus suddenly appears to hug him.
As I would tell myself this silly story and picture a few times, I would then add what it means and say it out loud to myself.
I see a Roman soldier opening a gate with lots of ties on it, as he does there is a picture that was attached to the gate of four cows with long noses; suddenly a Jesus appears to the soldier and puts a medal of commendation around his neck. The soldier puts out his toes on a cross and gets wrapped up in the arms of Jesus.
With that picture in mind I would say Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” If I then repeat and sing it a few times I’ve got it.
5. Finally, memory requires review. One of the reasons that memorizing a chapter or part of a chapter is good is because it is easy to remember to go back to that chapter each day in your study time and work on it. With single verses I like to write them down and put them somewhere I will likely remember to pause to look, like my pocket, desk, or car. Now I sometimes use the notes part of my iphone. The bottom line is if you will set a part time and do whatever it takes for your mind to retain scripture you will live as a more victorious Christian.