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15 Tips for Memorizing Scripture

I have fond memories of attending Awana as a kid. I remember the team games and the fun prizes and the yummy snacks, but my best memories are of getting new handbooks and working hard to memorize the verses in them. To this day, I can still recite some of those Bible verses.

By far, the spiritual discipline has yielded the most spiritual fruit in my life is Scripture memorization. Now I must confess that I’ve had an on again off again relationship with Scripture memory through the years, but I recognize the value of it in my life, and am working towards making it a regular, ongoing habit.


Why Memorize Scripture

Scripture tells us that transformation happens through the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). As we constantly dwell on the truth on the truth of God's Word, we are changed. There are so many distractions in this world, so many things our minds are continually pulled to, so we need to be intentional to meditate and dwell on the life-giving Word of God.

Not only do we want Scripture to roll around in our minds continually, but we also want to treasured it in our hearts. We need the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to stand firm in the midst of temptation. As we memorize Scripture, we give the Holy Spirit material to work with as He reminds us of the truth.

Memorized verses that we can quickly bring to mind are useful in everyday conversations. We can use these passages to speak truth to a friend, to encourage a coworker, or to exhort a family member. When we hide God’s word in our lives, He will use it in daily life.

But the main reason to memorize Scripture is to get to know the Author of the Bible. We don't want to become performance-oriented and perfectionistic, forgetting that the purpose of memorization is insight and growing knowledge of God and His Word. 

So regardless of whether you are brand new to Scripture memorization or you are a seasoned pro, my prayer is that you will find something helpful in this list of 15 tips for memorizing Scripture:


1. Be Encouraged! You can Memorize!

Many people say they just can’t memorize. They insist their brains just aren't wired that way. But let me encourage you, everyone can memorize Scripture. Think about the things we memorize in daily life. We memorize song lyrics, lines from movies and sports stats. God has given us minds to memorize. We are capable of memorization. So don't allow yourself to think that you cannot memorize Scripture. You can!

2. Ask God for Help

The Spirit of the Living God lives on the inside of us. So ask Him for help. Ask Him to give you the mental capacity and the supernatural ability to commit His Word to memory. That’s a prayer He loves to answer!

3. Make Memorizing a Part of your Daily Routine

Scripture memory doesn't happen by accident. You need a plan. You need intentionality around this spiritual practice. Think about the times and spaces in your day where you can memorize. Perhaps it's during some mundane task like putting on your makeup or folding the laundry or walking on the treadmill. Also consider habit stacking. This means that when you do ____________, then you will memorize Scripture. It works best when you connect it to a habit that you want to do. For example, when I sit and drink my coffee in the morning, then I will review my verses. You might also want to set an alarm several times throughout the day and take 5 minutes to review the verse you are working on. Regardless of how you do it, make memorizing a part of your daily routine.

4. Start Slow

Memory is a muscle. While you would never try to bench press 100lbs on your first day at the gym, you would not want to set a goal of memorizing an entire chapter of Scripture in a week. Start slow. Start with one verse a week, and then over time add another verse and another verse. I suggest memorizing longer passages instead of memorizing isolated verses. This is actually easier because you see the verses in context. And pick a book of the New Testament, because it's probably more familiar to you. Also, pick a translation that's easy to recit.

5. Read the Passage Repetitively

Repetitive reading helps with memorization, so this is where you want to start. Read the verse aloud ten times. The more you read the verse, the quicker it will become memory.

6. Say it Aloud

As you are memorizing a verse, it's helpful to say it aloud. There is something about hearing your own voice say the text that commits it more deeply to memory.

7. Write it Out

Handwriting your memory passage is another way to increase memorization. As you slow down and write out each word, you are memorizing.

8. Write out the First Letter of Each Word

Write out first letter of each word in your verse on a card. Then refer to that card as you are saying your verse aloud. This little memory aid helps you as you are memorizing.

9. Move while Memorizing

Moving while memorizing is especially helpful for kinaesthetic learners. There is something about moving our bodies when memorizing that helps cement it in our brain. You could walk outdoors, walk on the treadmill or stand and use appropriate hand gestures.

10. Prioritize Reviewing Older Verses

Spend 70% of your time reviewing older passages and 30% of your time learning the new verse. This repetition helps with memory. But don’t try to retain everything you’ve ever memorized for your whole life, since this will limit how many new verses you can absorb. Be willing to “kiss the verses goodbye” after a reasonable time of reviewing them. This is a humble acceptance of your limited time on earth, your limited head space, and the joys still waiting for you in the books you have yet to memorize. The goal is not perfect retention of everything you've ever memorized, but a breadth and depth of knowledge that will take a lifetime to develop. So move on when the time is right.

11. Post Verses

Visual cues are always helpful with memorization. Post your verses around the house to remind you to spend time working on memorization. You could post verses on the bathroom mirror, by the kitchen sink, in the shower (laminated or in a ziplock bag), or on spiral index cards in your purse.

12. Use the Down Time in Your Day

We all have random 5-10 minutes throughout our days. This could be when we are standing in line, waiting for a kid to come out of school, or waiting for dinner to cook on the stove. Instead of picking up your phone, choose to use those random pockets of time to memorize Scripture.

13. Use Apps

There are many good Scripture memory apps to use. Two that I want to recommend are:

  • Verses (IOS). Learn Bible verses by playing games.

  • Bible memory (can be used on IOS and android)

14. Memorize in Community

It's always more fun to do something with friends than alone. Leverage the power of accountability by memorizing in community. You could recite your verses to your family, or memorize with a friend by sending an email/text/ with your verses each week.

15. Celebrate Progress

Memorizing Scripture is not easy, so make sure you celebrate your progress. I don’t know what this might look like for you, but it could be a reward every time you finish a chapter or a longer passage (e.g. a dessert, a new book, dinner out). Regardless of how you celebrate, make sure that you do.




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