What is the Best Way to Memorize the Scriptures?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Scripture Memorization

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deut. 6:6-7, NIV).

Q: I Struggle terribly with memory verses, and wondering if you have any guidance that can help me out?

Hank Hanegraaff: No, I don’t think it’s a block that you’re never going to get over. In fact, the whole of Scripture lets us know that the Bible is actually given to us in such a way that it is inherently memorable. If you look at the very early stages of human history, we see them outlined by Moses in Genesis in such a way that you could remember them with the ten fingers of your hand. Likewise, the way Jesus presents the Beatitudes is an inherently memorable fashion.

The Bible was actually given in an oral culture. It was meant not only to be written down on paper but also written down upon the tablet of your heart. As Jesus said, “Let these words sink into your ears” (Luke 9:44, NASB). I think that everyone can memorize but it is a lost art in our culture. Because it’s a lost art so many people think, “Well, I just can’t do it.” The reality is you can.

Now if you look at someone who has memorized a tremendous amount of Scripture, you say, “Wow, I can’t do what that person does,” and you therefore might give up. What you ought to do rather than give up, is set realistic goals. It is often said, “He who aims at nothing invariably hits it.” You have to set realistic goals, and those goals have to become attainable goals. If your goals are unrealistic you will undoubtedly become to give up. If you say, “I’m going to memorize a chapter a day,” believe me, you’re going to get discouraged and ultimately, you’re going to give up. Rather, what you ought to do is set goals that are attainable. Maybe you set out to memorize a verse a month. Then you’ll say, “That’s not very much, I can do that very easy.” So just memorize that verse and go over and over again for that month, and then the next month do another, at the end of the year you’ll have memorized twelve verses, which is probably twelve more than you did the previous year. That’s called setting an attainable goal.

Now once you can attain that goal, instead of it being an unfinished monument in your life, it becomes a light in your life. You’ll say, “I did that. In fact, I can do more than that.” Pretty soon you’re going to be memorizing a verse a week. And now you’re in the process of doing the very thing that the Bible calls us to do.

I would also say this: From a practical standpoint, memorize Bible verses with a family member or a friend. This is so important because then there’s an accountability structure which really helps you in the process. Like exercising with someone, sometimes hard to do it on your own, but to do it with someone else makes it not only a joy but gives you an accountability structure.

I also normally use unproductive time to review what I have memorized. I could be standing in a line, I could be waiting at the airport, I could be walking on the treadmill. There are a thousand different times a week in which you can review verses that you’ve already memorized. The objective is to take these verses from the short-term to the long-term memory and that’s done by repetition and review.

People would laugh at me because I used to have a page out of the Bible. I’d have one Bible that I’d pull apart page by page, stick the page in my wallet, and I’d be standing in a line somewhere, in the grocery line, and I’m kind of impatient anyway, and I’d pull that out and I’d start reviewing or memorizing and pretty soon I’d be at the cashier. I’d think, “Wow that went way too fast.” So it really changes your perspective.

But, again, I think the real key to Scripture memorization is to set small attainable goals to begin with.

Blog adapted from “Scripture Memorization.”


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