If you’ve ever heard me teach the Bible, you know that I don’t use a Bible when I do!
Weird, I know.
The reason is that I can’t see the Bible. (If you’re new to the 4:13 Podcast, this might be a good time to tell you I’m blind.) Instead, I try to memorize the passages I am teaching.
For that reason, I am often asked how I memorize Scripture. So, I thought I would share with you how I do it.
But, before I do, can I please say that the reason I began to memorize Scripture was out of necessity? I want to dispel any myth that I am some kind of unattainable super spiritual saint!
Sister, no way!
I do love the Word, and I do love the Lord. Yet, I have a feeling if I could see a Bible with my own eyes, I may be less motivated to memorize It.
Because of this, one of the best gifts that came with blindness was the need to memorize Scripture. Memorizing it is the only way I can access it.
However, it has also taught me that even if we can see to read the Bible, we still need to hide it in our hearts.
So, on this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, I give you nine surefire ways to train your brain to remember what matters most. Friend, no matter how great or awful your memory is, you can do this. You can memorize Scripture. All it takes is a little Scripture memory muscle building—and these tips will help you.
9 Surefire Ways to Memorize Scripture
- Understand the Scripture first. If you want to memorize a verse, your first step is to seek to understand it. If you don’t understand it, it’s going to be harder to memorize. Plus, the point of hiding Scripture in your heart is so it can inform, change, and comfort your heart. So, you also want to ask God to show you what that verse is saying to you personally.
You start by meditating on the verse. If you’ve never meditated on Scripture before, it simply means you read it over and over again. Or, if it’s on audio, you listen to it over and over. You do this to help it sink in, and, as you’re listening or you’re reading, you are pondering what the words mean.
- Write out the Scripture. There’s a direct connection between your hand and your brain, so writing helps you more deeply encode into your brain what you’re trying to learn. It’s interesting because God actually deals with this concept in Deuteronomy 17, which you can read more about here.
Research shows as we write something down, as far as the brain is concerned, it is as if we are actually doing that thing. Writing further convinces the brain of what is important. What we write down, we are more likely to remember, even if we don’t refer back to our notes. It’s the process—not the notes themselves—that helps fix ideas more firmly in our minds.
- Draw or sketch it. In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists found that sketching new information resulted in it being memorized more effectively than it would have been by just simply writing it down. It might be a little more difficult to apply this to memorizing Scripture, but we can still be creative and apply the concept.
Here’s what you do. You write out a verse and, where you can, substitute a picture for a word. For example, Psalm 3:3 says, “You, O Lord, are a shield about me.” You would draw a shield there to help you remember it. That way, your mind can see it, and your hand and brain have made that connection.
- Create groups and connections. Your brain loves patterns. So, when you create meaningful connections and groups, it makes memorizing easier for your brain. Instead of trying to memorize a verse of 23 words in order, you memorize one thought, one pattern, or one group. For example, when I was memorizing Isaiah 6:1, I noticed that Isaiah is the only person mentioned in the verse. So, my meaningful connection is that verse 1 has one person.
You can also find contrasts and use this as another way to make a meaningful connection. Phillippians 4:6 is a good example of a contrast. On one hand, you’re not to worry. On the other, you’re to pray. If you detect if there’s an opposite or a contrast, use it to make a connection for you.
- Create acronyms. An acronym is when you create a list of words, and you take the first letter of each word and you make a sentence or another word out of it. Some Scriptures have a lot of lists, and they’re hard to memorize. Philippians 4:8 is one of them because it has a list of virtues and it’s a hard list to get in order.
What I did was take the first letter of each of these virtues and I made a sentence: The noble raccoon prays loudly about eating peanuts. The “T” is for “true,” the “N” for “noble,” and so on. Whenever I think of that verse, I see this in my mind. That’s the idea of creating an acronym.
- Practice interleaving. Interleaving is the idea of mixing or alternating concepts you want to memorize. This method might seem confusing at first, but studies show that it brings better results than simply spending long periods on one verse.
Here’s an example of how it works. You spend some time reading a Psalm you want to memorize and you seek to understand it. You meditate on it. You see it in your mind’s eye and then you’re done. Next, you go back to review a verse from Ephesians that you memorized yesterday. After this, you follow that up by testing yourself on a verse that you learned last month before you go back to the Psalm, and you write it out or sketch it.
- Test yourself. For a memorized verse to move from your temporary working memory to your long-term memory, two things have to happen. First, the verse needs to be memorable, which you’re already working on by connecting it with images or concepts. Second, it also needs to be repeated. This doesn’t mean you constantly re-read it. It means you try to say it. You think through it in your head and you try to recite it.
- Sleep on it. Studies show that your brain processes and stores information while you sleep. This means you should try to review the verses right before you go to bed, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Try it and see if doing this helps better embed those Scriptures in your memory.
- Chew gum. Yes, I’m serious! Research conducted at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England, has linked our ability to remember chunks of information to chewing gum. Seventy-five participants in the study were asked to take a 20-minute memory test. One-third of them chewed gum during it. And among the gum chewers, researchers found that their ability to recall was improved thirty percent. So, try chewing gum as you are memorizing Scripture—this study says it will help!
This week, challenge yourself to memorize just one verse. Even if you have never memorized Scripture before, give it a try. Because, friend, your real power to memorize Scripture comes from Christ’s power in you—and remember you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking By Faith, Not By Sight
- Walking By Faith: Lessons I Learned in the Dark Bible Study
Links Mentioned in This Episode
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What verse will you memorize this week?