I have a knack for memorization.
I was a theatre major in college, so I’ve memorized innumerable lines of frivolous plays and musicals that have no eternal significance in my life whatsoever.
But Scripture memory is how we equip the sword of the Spirit, and how we offensively counter the flaming arrows of the evil one.
So if you have no weapons in your arsenal when temptation or doubt or fear arises, how can you expect to stand on the Word of God in times of trial if you haven’t hidden it in your heart, that you may not sin against God?
So this is my method for scripture memorization.
First, I don’t just select passages at random. I take one thought or phrase that stood out from my daily reading and I choose that passage or verse as the material for memorization.
I underline it in my Bible, and (because I have an eidetic memory) I commit the location (where it is on the page) to memory so that when needed, I can quickly reference it again.
Next I read the verse, at least 3 times.
After I’ve read the verse 3 times, I read it again, this time emphasizing each word as I read it. (For this exercise, it’s easier to use short verses, although I’ve done it with longer ones also.)
I’ll use my verse from today as an example, 1 Corinthians 16:14.
YOUR every action must be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14, HCSB
Your EVERY action must be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14, HCSB
Your every ACTION must be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14, HCSB
…and so on, and so on, until I’ve done every word.
Next, I read it through and paraphrase each word- sometimes I do this part with pen and paper to keep in my notes for teaching my Sunday school class or for reference in praying that passage. It would look something like this:
Your– belonging to you; personal possessive
Every– all-encompassing; nothing excluded
Action– deed; conduct; pursuit
Must– non-negotiable; expectation
Be– exist having or characterized by
Done- completed; carried out; fulfilled
With– characterized by; accompanying; connected to; alongside
Love– deep, Christ-centered care for another person’s soul and well-being; phileo love, because of and in light of the Father’s agape love.
Lastly, I make sure to memorize the reference- book, chapter, verse. Doing this gives you credibility and confidence in witnessing and in conversation as you can pinpoint relevant scriptures and they can be verified by the person to whom you’re speaking.
It helps to stay consistent with the translation you use and always memorize from the same translation. There are some passages I have memorized from childhood from the NIV, because that’s what was cool in the 90s. But overall, I prefer the linguistic fluidity and accuracy of the HCSB so that’s my go to for memorization these days.
I usually set aside time a couple times a week to look back over what I’ve read thus far in my daily reading and choose a passage for memory that way.
The beautiful thing about this is that as you’re memorizing it, your mind begins to meditate on the words and their meaning, and as you commit them to memory, the Word of God penetrates your heart and mind. I find myself praying the passage as I read it and as I memorize it; giving back to God in prayer the words He’s given me to reveal His character.
This can be done in 2-5 minutes a day. And when one considers that the average person spends about 11 cumulative hours on social media, I think giving even a fraction of that time to the Lord God of the universe is of infinitely more worth.
I cannot describe the difference this practice of spiritual discipline has made in my faith walk. It is incalculable. I pray you find it just as helpful in your daily walk.